Perse Studio

Independent-learning super-curriculum projects: reading, research and ideas shared by Perse students


It would be wrong to conflate history and memory

Francoise D, Y12

Historical facts and memory are undoubtedly essential for reconstructing the history of the world in our minds accurately. Memory is often the reason for certain sources to exist, as accounts of events always come from what someone remembers of the incident at the time. However, conflating history and memory is dangerous as it eventually becomes impossible to divide the two as they become entwined in the remaking of past events. Whether it’s entirely wrong to conflate the two is debatable as often you can’t piece together the past without intertwining the two. The definition of conflate can vary, so to avoid confusion, in this essay I am going to use this definition of conflate: “brought together from various sources, composed of various elements”.

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What claim does Charlemagne have to the accolade ‘Father of Europe’?

Rupert G, Y12

The term Europae Pater, from which the modern accolade ‘Father of Europe’ has been translated, originates from an anonymously-authored manuscript written c. 800 AD. Known as Karolus Magnus et Leo Papa it tells of the dramatic flight from Rome of Pope Leo III and his meeting with the omnipotent King of the Franks, Charlemagne, at Paderborn (giving rise to its other name, the Paderborn Epic). Charlemagne was born sometime in the 740s, son of Pepin the Short. Pepin’s deposition of the ‘do nothing’ Merovingian dynasty in 751 allowed Charlemagne to succeed his father as King of the Franks from 768 until his death in 814. Charlemagne’s empire was enhanced by the wars of his reign until he reigned most of modern western Europe. The aforementioned meeting of Leo and Charles would eventually result in the coronation of Charlemagne as Imperator Romanorum (800AD) and cement his position within the European myth. Such is the power of the legacy he left behind, that he continues to appear as an icon of European politics to this day.

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Should historians embrace or resist ‘presentism’?

Ethan A, Y12

The debate over historical presentism can be interpreted as mirroring the debate between the scientific school, championed by Leopold von Ranke, and the Postmodernists, over the ability of historians to remove their influence from their works. Both sides go too far. History can never be totally scientifically objective. The selection and ordering of facts inherent in historical research necessitates the making of value judgements by the historian. Neither is it completely relativist, as there has to be basic grounding in fact so as to avoid the manufacture of pure fictions.

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Advent Of Code Programming Problems

Daniel C, Y9

After solving day 13 and day 17, of this year’s Advent Of Code programming problems (https://adventofcode.com/), I thought it would be nice to create a visualization of my two solutions. For Day 13 this shows minecarts moving around and crashing. I obviously had to slow the calculation thread down though (added 20ms delay per move), otherwise it would have been way too fast to see.

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Berlin

Nicholas R. Y11

Berlin is noticeably a city in a struggle with its own past. This is unsurprising, given its tumultuous recent history – from the Kaisers, through a brief period of fragile democracy, to Hitler and the Third Reich, and ultimately a split into East and West. However, what is interesting – and surprising, perhaps – is the effect that this has on the modern city.

A Berliner going about his or her daily business will likely pass one of the many memorials commemorating the horrors of the Nazi régime, walk past DDR- era apartment blocks, and step over the line of bricks set into the roads which marks the line of the Berlin wall. In short, History permeates every corner of Berlin; it is a city of echoes of the past. The ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’ (or ‘Holocaust Memorial’) is a good example of this. Situated near the Tiergarten, historic hunting ground of the Brandenburg Electors, and surrounded by modern high-rise buildings, this mass of 2,711 concrete stelae has an oppressive and inhuman feel. The deep shade and grey monotony is representative of many of Berlin’s monuments – they exalt despair on the part of the viewer. Much of the commemoration, such as the ‘Holocaust Memorial’ is a form of conceptual artwork based on architecture, experience and collective emotion. It is presentation of History with an agenda and often without much information – it attempts to tell a sort of emotional history, rather than an intellectual one, and it exudes a contemplative solemnity.

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Collatz Sequence using Assembly Language on Little Man Computer

Joshua S, Y10

The Collatz Sequence starts with any positive number and either halves it if it is even or triples it and adds one if it is odd, continuing until it reaches 1 after which it stops. The unproven theory says that for all positive integers this sequence should eventually reach one.

When I first looked at the collatz sequence problem for purposes of assembly language, the first thing I did was decompose the required algorithm into its component parts; an even/odd checker, a part that would triple a number and add 1, a part that would halve a number and a part that would stop the algorithm once one was reached. I then realised that it was nowhere near as hard as it seemed – each of the four main elements were fairly simple, the hardest being the division. Mr Gwilt demonstrated the method to achieve the odd/even checker in class. The triple and add one was easy – simply add the number to itself twice and add one, although this exact code isn’t demonstrated in my code below, as I also integrated the stop code into the odd function*. The division, however, required a more complicated algorithm, and two variables. It worked by loading the value of x and storing it as y​, then looping code that would load y, subtract one, and store the new value. It would then undergo a check in which y was doubled and then x​ subtracted – if y was half of x​, the program would divert to another label called output, which would output x​ and return to loop​, else it would continue looping until it got there.

* by subtracting one from the accumulator (which I had just loaded with the current value of x, the variable used to hold the current term) then using the BRZ command, I could check if x was currently 1, then divert to the stop code if it was. Since I had subtracted one, I had to add two to get the triple-add-one effect, and store a new x.

You can try out Little Man Computer (by Peter Higginson) online here:

https://peterhigginson.co.uk/lmc/