English

I’m a reporter at DER SPIEGEL and write about science and technology. This is my private blog.

To contact me, write to admin ((at)) schmundt.de

Here are some of my articles that got translated into English for SPIEGEL International.

How Finding Higgs Could Change Physics: Physicists have already discovered 12 of nature’s building blocks. Now, after a 50 year search, the most elusive one may be at hand: the Higgs boson. But if the so-called God particle is indeed discovered, will it mean the end of physics?

Europe vs. Google: American Goliaths like Google and Amazon are quickly cornering the digital book market. Will online libraries doom the scholars and small presses of old Europe?

The Dawning Age of Mind-Reading Machines: Imagine controlling machines, typing text or juggling balls using nothing but the power of thought. What sounds like far-fetched science fiction is gradually becoming possible, providing hope for disabled patients — and new gimmicks for the computer gaming industry.

Suzanne Vega in the New York Times about being a one hit wonder and about „Tom’s Diner“ as the inspiration for a German scientist when inventing the MP3 format: „So Mr. Brandenberg gets a copy of the song, and puts it through the newly created MP3. But instead of the “warm human voice” there are monstrous distortions, as though the Exorcist has somehow gotten into the system, shadowing every phrase. They spend months refining it, running “Tom’s Diner through the system over and over again with modifications, until it comes through clearly. “He wound up listening to the song thousands of times,” the article, written by Hilmar Schmundt, continued, “and the result was a code that was heard around the world. When an MP3 player compresses music by anyone from Courtney Love to Kenny G, it is replicating the way that Brandenburg heard Suzanne Vega.”

Abandoning the Stacks for a Multimedia Wonderland: Many predicted that the rise of the digital book would signal the demise of the library. But the opposite has been the case. The world’s top architects have designed a number of modern libraries in recent years — though the focus is no longer on the books.

Web Access for All Rwandans: In Rwanda, among Africa’s poorest countries, an American millionaire is developing one of the world’s most modern wireless networks. The Rwandan government hopes the project will help make the country an African counterpart to the Indian high-tech city of Bangalore.

Debate on Saving Historic Film Explodes: Is it acceptable to destroy cultural objects as if they were land mines? This is a question faced by archivists in Germany, where many of the country’s historical films were shot on explosive nitrocellulose. A bitter fight has broken out in Germany over whether the film should be preserved or destroyed.

Does Secularism Make People More Ethical? Non-believers are often more educated, more tolerant and know more about God than the pious. A new wave of research is trying to figure out what goes on in the minds of an ever-growing group of people known as the „Nones“.

Experts Warn of Impening Phosphorous Crisis: The element phosphorus is essential to human life and the most important ingredient in fertilizer. But experts warn that the world’s reserves of phosphate rock are becoming depleted. Is recycling sewage the answer?

EU Project Sees Flying Cars in Europe’s Skies: An EU-funded project is developing technology that could make flying cars a reality. But to avoid the inevitable dangers of a crowded sky, researchers are borrowing lessons learned from robots and bats.

Building the UN’s University in Tokyo: The United Nations has had its own university for more than 30 years, a little-known endeavor with no regular teaching operations. But now the new rector, a Swiss mathematician, wants to turn it into a serious academic institution.

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