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Pocket reading list : Week 4.1 of March

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera : More awesome images were sent back to Earth by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which was orbiting, duh, the Moon! This image is especially awesome because instead of looking straight down at the surface of the Moon, the orbiting satellite was pivoted to the side to capture altitude information better!

Terriers Were Once The Greatest Dogs In The World : I love everything that FiveThirtyEight publishes. Well, most everything. And this one is on dog breeds that've won competitions over the last century!

Why I think Tesla is building throwaway cars : I've read a lot of article by a lot of people praising how awesome Tesla's cars are and how they are the future because they aren't diesel or petrol powered! While that is true, another important thing that should be considered when making or buying a car is how easy it is to use and maintain the car, how cheap it is to refurbish the car is it is totaled and how long the car is expected to stay on the road! This is a brilliant article that goes over these topics in depth, eventually proving that Tesla is making cars that are hard to maintain for long.

ScienceTake | New View of Flame : I've always been fascinated with fire. Maybe it's the caveman in me, I don't know. This is an ultra fast (or ultra slow, depending on how you define it) video of a match being lit. What's more interesting is that we can see the hot air rising from the lit tip of match stick! Who says that Science isn't beautiful!

The Myth of the Flat Earth : So, apparently, the story that early Christians believed that the Earth was flat is pretty much bullshit. They believed that the Earth was in the center of the solar system. But since the early ages, they believed that the Earth was round. The myth that the Christians believed in a flat Earth was apparently a way to polarize the people to take either the religion's side or science's.

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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…