Your Life Needs More Drama!

The cast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from July 2017. Photo: EDS

It’s that time of year again, with fresh faces filling the halls of Kollegenhaus, professors dusting off last year’s syllabus, and stress and excitement running high over the beginning of the new semester. What better outlet for all your energy and emotions than drama? Now is the time when the university’s English Dramatic Society (EDS) holds auditions for its biannual play!

In July, you might have had the chance to see the Shakespearian classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the summer semester production by EDS. This winter semester’s production will be staged in February, but auditions are on right now.

EDS plays are held at the end of each semester in the Experimentiertheater, located in the Audimax building. Rehearsals are held throughout the semester on Mondays through Thursdays from 8 to 10:30pm at Bismarckstrasse 1. If you are interested in participating this semester, get in touch with EDS right away on their Facebook page!

I spoke with Kirsten Henry, director of EDS for the last 20 plays, and former FAU Theater Studies student. She was cast in her first EDS play, “The Front Page,” while a student in 2001. Henry told me that new participants are always encouraged to come audition or support the plays in other ways behind-the-scenes, from costume-makers to set-builders to make-up artists to ticket-sellers. EDS has a loyal group of both students and non-students who come back from semester to semester, but new members are always encouraged. Henry assured me that you don’t need to be a native speaker of English to join either – all those interested in theater are welcome.


„If I were…“ – FAU-Student wins UNESCOs 2017 Global Youth Contest

This is the awesome photo by FAU-Student Sulaiman Vesal. Copyright: Sulaiman Vesal & UNESCO

“What would your life be like if you were somebody else? Have you ever imagined stepping into someone else’s shoes and how would you react to a given situation?”

Those were the lines with which UNESCO invited people to participate in their photo contest “If I were…”. Participants were invited to step into the footsteps of another person’s life and express their experience and feelings in one photo by changing their perspective and expressing themselves differently. The idea was to illustrate their feelings if they were this other person, change their perspective and express themselves differently while developing their empathy and leaving their prejudices behind!

UNESCO received over 837 submissions, from over 117 countries around the world. One of those submissions was by FAU-Student Sulaiman Vesal, who ended up being one of the winners. Originally being from Afghanistan he had an encounter with two kids on one of his trips visiting his family, which he could not forget. He was at a cemetery on a cold winter morning with -13 C, when he noticed two kids, who spent the whole morning selling water to visitors. It is custom in Afghanistan to show respect to the deceased by cleaning their gravestone. To do so people need to carry water from the closest dwell to the gravestone, which sometimes is very far away. The kids offered to carry the water and clean the tombstones for as little as 15-20 cents. When Sulaiman asked the kids, who were wearing their schoolbag, why they do this, they answered they work on the cemetery every day before and after school, in order to support their family and be able to go to school. Both motivated to make and work hard for their own future.


The Oldest Teeth on Earth

These teeth are smaller than one millimeter. Photo: Bryan Shirley

We’re all aware of global warming; the extreme temperatures in Erlangen this summer were enough of a reminder! Although the world’s current warming crisis is the result of human industrialization, the Earth has passed through other periods of massive climate change over the course of its 4.5 billion year history. But how do we know this? We can hardly trust the TV weatherman to accurately predict rain tomorrow, so how can we know what the climate was doing millions or billions of years ago?

For the answer to that question, says international student Bryan Shirley, we just need to look at a set of teeth.

Shirley recently completed his Master’s in micropalaeontology and paleoclimatology with the submission of his thesis on a really, really, really old set of animal teeth. The teeth, which are around 425 million years old, were discovered in Sweden and belong to the conodont, an eel-like marine creature from the late Silurian period, about 7 times older than the dinosaurs. Indeed, they’re the oldest teeth ever discovered from any form of life on Earth.

Shirley had been working on his Master’s at the University of Lille in Northern France when one of his lecturers connected him with FAU to study the teeth. His specific goal was to examine the deformations in the teeth to determine what had caused those deformations, and to thereby learn more about how the teeth grew and about the conodonts‘ way of life.


37.05 Teraflops for the win

The FAU Team. Photo: Benedikt Oehlrich

Congratulations to the six FAU undergraduates (Egon Araujo, Fabian Fleischer, Lukas Maron, Benedikt Oehlrich, Phillip Suffa, and team captain Jannis Wolf) who earned the Highest LINPACK Performance Award and set a new record at the Student Cluster Competition in Frankfurt last month, beating teams from universities like Harvard and MIT. Wow! But what does that mean?!

Benedikt Oehlrich, who was on FAU’s team for the third cluster competition in a row, explained the importance of High Performance Computing, or HPC, more commonly known as supercomputing. Oehlrich pointed out that HPC plays a vital role in making new developments in environmental protection. For example, today’s airplanes use dramatically less fuel than those of the past due to wing optimization that has been done with supercomputers. Quantum science, he added, would take years longer or be impossible on a basic computer. HPC is used in a wide variety of other fields, too, from predicting comet paths, to analyzing risk on Wall Street, to forecasting the weather!