Saturday, March 3, 2012

A clever, ugly man every now and then is successful with the ladies...

News of the week: Ze Frank is bringing back The Show. "Think Dora the Explorer meets Locked Up Abroad." His Kickstarter project has already earned $120,000, blowing through his original goal of $50,000.  What? You didn't watch The Show the first time around? Check out the archives.

Science solves yet another vexing problem of our time: men with beards are more attractive. But men with full beards, while deemed most mature, are also the least attractive. Science giveth and science taketh away.

Web programmers only: play What the Hex? and see if you can match a hex code to its color swatch. And these demos of WebGL are pretty cool.

Not a single CFD image in this year's Best Scientific Visualizations from Science magazine and the NSF. But this visualization of complex numbers is nice.
I suppose Engineers Week (19-25 February) is the reason for all the news items about engineers and engineering education.
  • This is hard to believe but 64% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) undergraduates take six years to graduate. The blame is placed on "topic creep" and ultra-rigid curricula. (An unrelated article in the local paper placed Texas A&M's 4-year graduation rate at less than 50% and U. Texas' at about 62%. I'm doing this from memory but those numbers are close.) The article ends with tips for improving the retention of engineering students.
    • Use everyday examples in teaching that students can relate to.
    • Improve their spatial-visualization skills. (Yes!)
    • Improve faculty-student interactions.
  • Bloomberg tries to make the case that engineering is now sexy for college grads but instead they just say that engineering is a fallback for tech grads who used to sell their souls to go to work for investment banks. 
  • The WSJ advises MBAs to make way for engineers because a functional manager seem to be preferred and more successful than your basic manager manager.
  • The Business of Software folks (see below) have always said that it's easier to teach business to an engineer than to teach engineering to an MBA.
A secret has been hiding on Ball's Pyramid, this 1,800 foot high volcano remnant off the coast of Australia. A gross looking giant insect thought to be extinct since 1920 was living on the side of this mountain under a single bush.
Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction is an interactive discussion about understanding systems by being able to move from the concrete to the abstract and back again. Aspects of this talk are similar to last week's video about designing for a cause. This Ladder article also opens with a nice quote: "In science, if you know what you are doing, you should not be doing it. In engineering, if you don't know what you're doing, you should not be doing it. Of course, you seldom, if ever, see either pure state."

Not dentistry - the tongue drive is one of the coolest accessibility appliances I've seen. This retainer lets paralyzed patients control a wheelchair and computer with their tongue.
Alan Parsons, the guy who engineered Dark Side of the Moon and had his own Project, offers a video series on the art and science of sound recording.

Those dirty scientists at NASA have poured their flowing oil all over Faith Hill and taken pictures. No, not that one. This one: Fundamental Aeronautics Investigates THe Hill. 

Visualizing Data presents their best of the visualization web for January: part 1, part 2.

Physics/literature factoid of the day: physicist Murray Gell-Mann named his subatomic particle discovery "quarks" after a line from James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake: "Three quarks for Muster Mark."

If you're considering attending this year's Business of Software conference (1-3 October in Boston) you'll probably want to check-out the feedback from last year's delegates, which they publish, warts and all.

These pants with a built-in keyboard may forever alter the downloading of internet pr0n. Spacebar fatigue. Where's the joystick?
Programming geeks only: the archive of interesting code. Anyone want to implement a hash table in Java using cuckoo hashing? Or, a method for accessing Facebook from the command line.

On days like today it's hard to be a football fan. During the Saint's Super Bowl season their defense was paying cash bounties for injuring opposing players with knowledge of defensive coordinator Greg Williams and head coach Sean Payton. If true, the NFL should impose serious penalties and fines. They can't have all the hand-wringing about concussions and then let this slide by with a slap on the wrist. One player is quoted as having no regrets for participating. In 20 years he'll probably be suing the NFL because of his injuries. This thugish behavior has to end. But more importantly I think anyone involved should be charged with felony assault and conspiracy to commit. To feel better about the game, watch this brief video from 1903 of Princeton vs. Yale. The pace of play seems more rugby-like.

If you know what "diddeys" are you don't need this 1811 dictionary of vulgar slang.

The Portland Art Museum is hosting a Mark Rothko retrospective through 27 May 2012.
Booyah! The Navy's got themselves a rail gun. I love the patch shown at the end of the video with slogan "Velocitas Eradico."

"I'll have a glass of the 2008 Dehlinger Pinot Noir with my slider." White Castle will be adding wine to their menu.

Included for its name only: The Boiled Owl Tavern.

Before clicking the link stop and try to list the 10 most common surnames in the world. I'll give you one: Smith.

The F-22 Raptor began life as the ATF, Advanced Tactical Fighter. Code One Magazine looks back at the aircraft's development in a two-part series. I like the essence of the quote from the F-22's first flight - everything thing else is now just a target.
When is a Pollock not a Pollock? Fraud in the abstract art world is a twisty thing to prove.

I don't have Aspberger's syndrome, at least according to this online test. The quest for understanding my behavior continues.

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about the Middle Ages? If so, better make sure you have your facts straight.

Wisconsin does it right: fried bacon with gravy and other foods on a stick.

By now I'm certain that you've heard about Raspberry Pi, the $35 Linux computer (keyboard, mouse, and monitor not included).

Now go play Neon flames.

...but a handsome fool is irresistible. ~William Makepeace Thackerary


Francis Shivone said...

Good stuff. I saw the rail gun video. Impressive.

Flying one of those jets has to be at the top of the list of things I'd like to do but never will.

John said...

Thanks. I think the rail gun is amazing too, especially the distance and accuracy. And when we have directed energy weapons, oooh boy.

Allen park said...,,,,,,