Alexander von Humboldt’s famous ‘Kosmos-Lecture’ at the Berlin Sing-Akademie (1827/28): From Digital to Print Edition

A blog post by Christian Thomas (CLARIN-D, BBAW)

Book: Alexander von Humboldt, Henriette Kohlrausch: Die Kosmos-Vorlesung an der Berliner Sing-Akademie. Edited by Christian Kassung and Christian Thomas. Berlin: Insel Verlag, 2019.
(insel taschenbuch 4719, ISBN 978-3-458-36419-1) Publisher’s landing page:

Fig.1: Cover insel taschenbuch 4719, © Insel Verlag Berlin.


Background: Alexander von Humboldt’s legendary ‘Kosmos-Lectures’

Alexander von Humboldt’s legendary ‘Kosmos-Lectures’ in 1827/28 at the Berlin Sing-Akademie – then the city’s largest lecture hall, today’s seat of the Maxim Gorki Theater – are regarded as a decisive moment in the history of scientific popularization. In the winter of 1827/28, approximately one thousand Berliners and guests from abroad attended the 16 consecutive lectures. Humboldt gave a vast overview on the state of scientific knowledge of his time, spanning astronomic, geographic, geological and biological topics, but also the cultural and social spheres in an encompassing ‘portrait of nature’ (“Naturgemälde”). The audience represented a broad spectrum of the learned society and interested laymen including – following Humboldt’s explicit invitation – women, who were still excluded from Prussia’s universities until the end of the 19th century. Since the lectures were never published by Humboldt himself, the elaborate notebooks several of his auditors kept that were preserved in different archival and private holdings in Germany, Poland, Turkey and Norway, become even more valuable as authentic documents of this important moment in the history of science.

The recently published volume Die Kosmos-Vorlesung an der Berliner Sing-Akademie, edited by Christian Kassung and Christian Thomas, presents, for the first time in a printed edition, the reliable and complete text of this lecture series. The edited primary text was corrected on the basis of

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BAS WebServices are awarded a Google research prize of $5000

The CLARIN-D centre “Bavarian Archive for Speech Signals” (BAS) in Munich applied for a Google Research Credit Grant and was honoured with the award. From now on, a greater amount of processing power for the automatic transcription of audio-visual speech data will be made available for the users. We congratulate Florian Schiel and his colleagues at the BAS on being awarded the Google research prize, which includes a prize money of 5,000 dollars. The funding started on January 1st, 2020.

What are Google Research Credit Grants?

The US-based technology company Google has got a large division called “Google Cloud Processing” (GCP), which offers several KI-applications as (fee-based) web services. In this division, the programme “GCP Education” is located. This programme allows students to apply for so-called “credits”, which can be used for GCP applications. Researchers, too, can apply for small grants (so-called “research credits”) with their project proposal. There is no application deadline, as applications can be handed in on a running basis. Further information on the application process can be found here: 

Usage Scenarios of Google Services at the BAS

The BAS WebServices use, among other things, the Google Cloud Automatic Speech Recognition for the fully-automated annotation of audio-visual data (cf. services “ASR” and “Pipeline”). To provide their users with more processing power in this field, Florian Schiel applied for a Google “research credit grant”. He decided to put a thematic focus on the development of the BAS WebServices and the integration of Google Cloud applications.

BAS users benefit from the award

Since the awarding on January 1st, 2020, users of the BAS WebServices have been able to use about 1,7 million seconds of automatic transcription each

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