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Player piano

A player piano is a self-playing piano, containing a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism that operates the piano action via programmed music recorded on perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls, with more modern implementations using MIDI. The rise of the player piano grew with the rise of the mass-produced piano for the home in the late 19th and early 20th century. Sales peaked in 1924 declined as the improvement in phonograph recordings due to electrical recording methods developed in the mid-1920s; the advent of electrical amplification in home music reproduction via radio in the same period helped cause their eventual decline in popularity, the stock market crash of 1929 wiped out production. The idea of automatic musical devices can be traced back many centuries, the use of pinned barrels to operate percussion mechanisms was perfected long before the invention of the piano; these devices were extended to operate musical boxes, which contain a set of tuned metal teeth plucked by the player mechanism.

An early musical instrument to be automated was the organ, comparatively easy to operate automatically. The power for the notes is provided by air from a bellows system, the organist or player device only has to operate a valve to control the available air; the playing task is ideally performed by a pinned barrel, the art of barrel organs was well advanced by the mid-18th century. The piano is a complex instrument, requiring each note to be struck with a different force to control the dynamics of the performance; the entire force required to sound the note must be given by the performer hitting the keys. It proved to be difficult for a player device to combine a variable percussive force and a controlled note duration. Barrels do not provide a percussive force, but a gentle switching motion. Early barrel pianos moved the hammer back and forwards continuously as the operator turned the handle, but the hammers did not strike the strings until moved forwards by a pin in the barrel; the hammers hit until the pin was removed.

This played the note, but with a tremolo action quite unlike a pianist. The development of the player piano was the gradual overcoming of the various difficulties of controlled percussive striking and note duration; the earliest practical piano playing device was the Forneaux Pianista, which used compressed air to inflate a bellows when the barrel pin opened a valve. This bellows so played the note; the acceleration of developments leading to the pneumatic'player' device started in the 1840s and began to reach some recognizable device in the 1870s. The start of the player period can be seen as the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia, USA. At this exhibition were a number of automatic player devices, including the Pianista, that contained the elements which would lead to the player; the earliest description of a piano playing device using perforated paper rolls was Claude Seytre's French patent of 1842. The concept was sound, but the device described was impractical in the way it read the roll and operated the piano.

In 1847, Alexander Bain described a device that used a paper roll as a'travelling valve' that allowed air to flow through the reeds of a reed organ. Simple reed and pipe organs using this sort of system are still being produced. However, the air flow is not sufficient to drive a piano mechanism. In 1848 Charles Dawson of England described a more complex travelling valve device which added little to Bain's. Hunt & Bradish of the US, 1849, used a roll read by sprung fingers, the springs being strong enough to operate the piano mechanism directly; this device applied the entire playing strength to the paper, so would have shredded it and the device would have had to be as wide as the piano keyboard. In 1851, England, submitted a patent that recognized the need to remove the playing force from the paper, using light springs to read the roll and activate a more robust device which plays the note—a mechanical amplifier; the first device to address the practical requirement of operating a piano mechanism was Forneaux's, of 1863.

This recognized. It used a traditional barrel, but tripped a pneumatic device that inflated bellows to operate the note. In 1871 a perforated cardboard book was substituted for the barrel, but it was still read using sprung fingers; this device entered manufacture, is regarded as the first practical player device. It was exhibited in Philadelphia in 1876. Van Dusen's American patent of 1867 was the first to describe a pneumatic striker operated by a roll, it was based on the work of John McTammany. A leap in thought occurred in the 1873 patent of the Schmoele brothers, they described a'double valve' system that acted as a pneumatic amplifier, reading the roll electrically and operating the pneumatics with an electromagnet. They exhibited at Philadelphia. With some modification, pneumatic reading of the roll, this would become the final player piano some 20 years although the Schmoele brothers never benefited from it. In 1876, John McTammany exhibited a working player in Philadelphia that used a paper roll read using sprung fingers whose slight movement triggered a mechanical player device.

This operated a reed organ. McTammany had been experimenting since the mid-1860s, went on to be one of the key names in the early player industry, he claimed to be the inventor of the'player', but not the'player piano'—an important distinction. As of 1876, in Philadelphia, three working devices were exhibited that between them contained all the components that the final player piano

Signature in the Cell

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design is a 2009 book about intelligent design by philosopher and intelligent design advocate Stephen C. Meyer; the book was well received by some within the conservative, intelligent design and evangelical communities, but several other reviewers were critical and wrote that Meyer's claims are incorrect. According to Meyer, historical sciences seek to establish past causes of events using three criteria: that a proposed cause was present, that independent evidence establishes that the proposed cause can indeed produce that event, that there is an absence of evidence of other possible causes. In his view, the first form of life would have been a functioning, self-replicating, protein-synthesizing system of DNA and proteins, as such an information-rich system. Meyer believes that chemical evolution and chemical necessity have not been proven capable of producing information-rich systems, that intelligent design is therefore the best explanation for the emergence of life on this planet.

He argues that definitions of science that would preclude intelligent design from being a science preclude many other fields established as science, from being science. Meyer believes, he acknowledges. The book has been well received by some within the conservative, intelligent design and evangelical communities, it was not reviewed by popular science magazines. Philosopher Thomas Nagel submitted the book to the "2009 Books of the Year" supplement for The Times, writing "Signature in the Cell... is a detailed account of the problem of how life came into existence from lifeless matter – something that had to happen before the process of biological evolution could begin... Meyer is a Christian, but atheists, theists who believe God never intervenes in the natural world, will be instructed by his careful presentation of this fiendishly difficult problem."Stephen Fletcher, chemist at Loughborough University, responded in The Times Literary Supplement that Nagel was "promot the book to the rest of us using statements that are factually incorrect."

Fletcher explained that, "Natural selection is in fact a chemical process as well as a biological process, it was operating for about half a billion years before the earliest cellular life forms appear in the fossil record." In another publication, Fletcher wrote that "I am afraid that reality has overtaken Meyer’s book and its flawed reasoning" in pointing out scientific problems with Meyer's work by citing how RNA "survived and evolved into our own human protein-making factory, continues to make our fingers and toes."Darrel Falk, co-president of the BioLogos Foundation and a biology professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, reviewed the book and used it as an example of why he does not support the intelligent design movement. Falk wrote that several of Meyer's claims, such as "no RNA molecule had been evolved in a test tube which could do more than join two building blocks together" and "the two different conditions for making two of the key building blocks that characterize an RNA molecule are incompatible", were proven wrong soon after the publication of Meyer's book.

Falk was critical of Meyer's declaration of scientists, such as Michael Lynch, being wrong without Meyer conducting any experiments to falsify the established work in the field. Falk wrote, "the book is supposed to be a science book and the ID movement is purported to be a scientific movement—not a philosophical, religious, or popular movement."Falk concluded, "If the object of the book is to show that the Intelligent Design movement is a scientific movement, it has not succeeded. In fact, what it has succeeded in showing is that it is a popular movement grounded in the hopes and dreams of those in philosophy, in religion, those in the general public." In 2010 the BioLogos Foundation published Meyer's response to Falk. The response criticizes Falk's characterization of Meyer's credentials as well as the lack of any evidence from Falk that the premise of his book is faulty; the American Scientific Affiliation, a Christian organization of scientists and others, published a detailed analysis of the book's assertions by their executive director, physicist Randall Isaac.

He concluded, "It is laudable. Predictions that are testable are a vital part of the scientific process, but just making a prediction isn’t sufficient to indicate viable science. Astrologers and tasseologists can make predictions and sometimes they may be right. Predictions must be based on causal factors that are understood independently to exist and whose adequacy can be independently verified; the predictions must differentiate between competing hypotheses. It is unfortunate that this set of dozen predictions is weak on all counts, it is unlikely to make any difference in the debate. These tend not to be definitive in terms of distinguishing between ID or non ID and will only extend the discussion."Steve Matheson, a developmental biologist at Calvin College, wrote an analysis critical of the book. In a post on The Panda's Thumb, Richard Hoppe concluded that the book failed to make a strong case for ID; the Discovery Institute published a collection of responses to critics edited by David Klinghoffer.

Signature in the Cell Seeking a Signature, a review of Signature in the Cell appearing in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

1860 United States presidential election in Arkansas

The 1860 United States presidential election in Arkansas took place on November 6, 1860, as part of the 1860 United States presidential election. Arkansas voters chose four representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president. Arkansas was won by the 14th Vice President of the United States John C. Breckinridge, running with Senator Joseph Lane, with 53.06% of the popular vote, against Senator John Bell, running with the Governor of Massachusetts Edward Everett, with 37.05% of the popular vote and the 15th Senator Stephen A. Douglas, running with 41st Governor of Georgia Herschel Johnson, with 9.89% of the popular vote. Republican Party candidate Abraham Lincoln was not on the ballot in the state