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Pocket reading list : Week 1.2 of Mar

The Strangest, Most Spectacular Bridge Collapse (And How We Got It Wrong) : Most of us in college have heard of this story at some point or another, that winds were moving a bridge up and down at the resonant frequency of the structure and it oscillated so drastically that it broke apart. The bridge was nicknamed 'The Galloping Gertie' because it had moved about in strong winds before. Anyway, most of us were told that the reason the bridge fell apart was because of resonance, which, as this article points out, isnt the right answer.

Stumbling to Inflation : The theory of inflation was proposed to solve some of the drawbacks of the Hot Big Bang model of the universe. You know, The Big Bang theory. Alan Guth proposed a theory of Inflation and this is the story of how the idea came about to him.

The Big Fish - The story of suck.com : suck.com is a very real magazine/website, made by two people at HotWired.com to tell the management how the internet works and how they shouldn't think in terms of traditional print based magazines. They said no to sign-up/in only content because data had shown them that a lot of traffic drops off at the sign-up page. They also pioneered the single column tabloid view that is now common on the internet. Learning about the history of the internet is fascinating.

The real reason the media is rising up against Donald Trump : I remember reading a Pew Research Center study on how polarized the American audience is and what the polarizing news channels are. This is an interesting take on how Donald Trump is screwing with the way things were run by the news channels.

The Artist Who Obsessed the FBI : Artists can have just as much of an effect as writers do. Photographers have brought the truth into the light during war times. This is a similar story of an artist who pursued the truth to make into an art piece, eventually to kill himself, apparently.

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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…