UCSB Heralds Developments in Energy Efficient Lights, English Ballads

UCSB touted two achievements of its faculty Thursday, though in two disparate departments.

The university announced Thursday that its college of engineering will be opening the Solid State Lighting and Energy Center (SSLEC), a research establishment that will further examine a new, energy-efficient source of illumination. Called “solid state” because light-emitting diodes are solid objects and therefore unlike the vacuums or gas tubes that glow in incandescent or fluorescent lights, this illumination technology loses less energy to heat and is more durable than traditional sources.

The department is the immediate descendant of Solid State Lighting Center, now with a new focus on light that will not contribute to global warming. A press release from the center claims that such innovation is critical, as 22 percent of energy produced for use in America goes to lighting. Professors Shuji Nakamura and Steven DenBaars will head the center, which has already been pledged financial support by the Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation in the form of $2.5 million over the next six years.

Similar in manner early_modern.jpgto how solid state lighting puts a new spin on a familiar technology, a different research department has also found a way to combine the antiquated with the groundbreaking. UCSB also proclaimed Thursday that its Early Modern Center — a research unit of the English department — has posted its first project, a collection of 1,800 ballads that researchers there catalogued, transcribed and posted. Though the actual texts are housed in the Pepys Library at Magdalene College in Cambridge, England, anyone with internet access can now view the reproductions of the poems and gain an understanding of day-to-day life of the people that would have been familiar with them. Most composed anonymously as far back as the 16th century, the ballads were performed in their day to the tune of folk songs and commented on news, “much in the same way that tabloid magazines and newspapers do today,” the press release states. Those working at the Early Modern Center purportedly aim to one day have posted all extant ballads composed between 1500 and 1800.

By archiving the texts online, researchers hope to both make them available to others who could use them in academic pursuits and to help translate them. Though technically written in English, more primitive printing techniques and unconventional spelling can make the ballads hard to read. As such, the website also includes a key indicating any substitutions that those posting the documents have made to clarify the original meaning. For example, whereas original texts may include the word “ye,” transcriptions substitute the equivalent “thee,” with which more readers would be familiar. Researchers have even attempted to post the transcriptions so as to match the layout of the text in the original documents.

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