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A new game plan

Based on what I mentioned a couple of days back, I'm now trying to put together the basics of programming in C and Fortran, for a course I'm doing this semester. Pretty much most of my evening was spent on those snippets on how to code, compile and debug. Earlier I attended a popular science talk by Prof. Sriram on how supernovae were used to discover an accelerating expansion of the universe. He introduced the concept of the cosmic distance ladder and he talked about how supernova, of a specific kind, can act as standard candles, that can be used to measure distances to far away galaxies.

And I had an idea for another interesting side project. Well, I already had the idea like an year back but never took it up seriously. I wanted to understand how a random distribution of particles end up on a plane, look at the milky way galaxy. There should be a way to analytically solve and understand where such a plane might lie. It would also be an interesting visualization to show an n-body system, governed only by gravity, collapse to a disk over time. Penned down and cataloged!

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Animation using GNUPlot

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on MOOCs.

For those of you who don't know, MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course.

The internet is an awesome thing. It's making education free for all. Well, mostly free. But it's surprising at the width and depth of courses being offered online. And it looks like they are also having an impact on students, especially those from universities that are not top ranked. Students in all parts of the world can now get a first class education experience, thanks to courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc.

I'm talking about MOOCs because one of my new year resolutions is to take online courses, atleast 2 per semester (6 months). And I've chosen the following two courses on edX - Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R Server and Data Science Essentials for now. I looked at courses on Coursera but I couldn't find any which was worthy and free. There are a lot more MOOC providers out there but let's start here. And I feel like the two courses are relevant to where I …

On programmers.

I just watched this brilliant keynote today. It's a commentary on Programmers and the software development industry/ecosystem as a whole.



I am not going to give you a tl;dr version of the talk because it is a talk that I believe everyone should watch, that everyone should learn from. Instead, I am going to give my own parallel-ish views on programmers and programming.
As pointed out in the talk, there are mythical creatures in the software development industry who are revered as gods. Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python, was given the title Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL). People flock around the creators of popular languages or libraries. They are god-like to most programmers and are treated like gods. By which, I mean to say, we assume they don't have flaws. That they are infallible. That they are perfect.
And alongside this belief in the infallibility of these Gods, we believe that they were born programmers. That programming is something that people are born wit…