Skip to main content

This week's pocket reading list : Week 2 of Oct

Chinese scientists row over long-sought protein that senses magnetism : If you don't know already, all(?) birds and some animals can sense magnetic fields. Birds use the Earth's magnetic field to be able to migrate long distances. This article is about the story of how one researcher discovered the exact protein that the animal body uses to detect magnetic fields and how another researcher from a neighboring institution apparently broke an agreement between the two to wait for the first one to publish. Collaborations are commonplace in academia, more so now than ever before, and the legal ramifications of such collaborations where a large amount of money (and of course pride) is (are) involved are still in murky waters.

Curiosity wheel damage: The problem and solutions : I hope you know that NASA put a new (yes, there have been ones before it) rover on Mars called Curiosity and it's been there for over an year now if I'm correct. If you know about Curiosity, you probably know about the 7 minutes of terror during with it's landing. This is a story of the more mundane, day-to-day problems that the Curiosity faces, for example wheel damage. The people who drive the rover check the wheels regularly for damage, because theyre driving on rough terrain and the wheels arent like the ones back on Earth which work using a cushion of air inside rubber.

What My Uterus Can Teach You About Being a Tech Leader : Apart from the click-baity sounding heading for the article, it's a brilliant piece in my opinion about journalism and woman in tech. Even now, interviews with women in tech at conferences involve a lot more talk about how she handles the work-life balance and a lot less about their more relevant technological achievements. This article highlights how men are never asked such questions and a few men who came after women in interviews at conferences were good enough to point this out to the interviewers.

The Night They Drove the Price of Electricity Down to negative, mind you. It's an interesting account of the fact that dynamic pricing is based on demand, the fact that Texas is an island in terms of it's power grid and the fact that alternative energy industries get tax incentives based on the amount of power they sell.

Spectacular New Horizons photo of Pluto's hazes and mountains: How it was made : I might be in love with Emily Lakdawalla. Well, if not her, then her writing. This is a brilliant piece about how the different cameras work on the New Horizons probe that NASA sent towards Pluto, that recently beamed back to us spectacular images of Pluto and it's moon Charon.

Thank you for reading. Please, for the love of all that is holy, help me build my personal brand. : read it. Read it. It'll hardly take you a minute. Read it.

A deathblow to the Death Star: The rise and fall of NASA’s Shuttle-Centaur : Reading about the Challenger disaster itself helps understand the NASA mindset a bit at the time, under a lot of pressure from the government and itself to turn around shuttles faster and faster for reuse, neglecting stringent safety tests in the process. This is yet another story of how NASA was about to take a very risky move (yes, riskier than landing on the moon and what not).

The white man in that photo : A good number of us have probably seen the picture, showing two black men on the podium, their fists raised, while a white man stands beside them, completely out of place. To provide some context, the black men had their fists raised and were standing barefoot to protest for racial equality in the US and in support of the numerous movements happening back home. I didn't pay much attention to the white dude earlier. This is his story.

10 tips for making postdoc applications (Part 1) : It's app season. For undergrads looking for PhD positions and for grad students looking for Postdoc positions. My two cents are to not get bogged down by rejection and try push yourself through the awkward mails and forced essays about yourself because beyond a point, it is a numbers game.

Charlie Chaplin's Scandalous Life and Boundless Artistry : Charlie Chaplin is one of those men every household on Earth knows about. And like a lot of other artists, we choose to completely disassociate the artists's personal life with their work. I never read about Charlie Chaplin's personal life and I don't think I ever had much interest in it in the first place. Until I read this piece on him.

Popular posts from this blog

Animation using GNUPlot

Animation using GNUPlotI've been trying to create an animation depicting a quasar spectrum moving across the 5 SDSS pass bands with respect to redshift. It is important to visualise what emission lines are moving in and out of bands to be able to understand the color-redshift plots and the changes in it.
I've tried doing this using the animate function in matplotlib, python but i wasn't able to make it work - meaning i worked on it for a couple of days and then i gave up, not having found solutions for my problems on the internet.
And then i came across this site, where the gunn-peterson trough and the lyman alpha forest have been depicted - in a beautiful manner. And this got me interested in using js and d3 to do the animations and make it dynamic - using sliders etc.
In the meanwhile, i thought i'd look up and see if there was a way to create animations in gnuplot and whoopdedoo, what do i find but nirvana!

In the image, you see 5 static curves and one dynam…

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…