Skip to main content

This week's Pocket reading list : Week 2.3 of Mar

How a $2.7 billion air-defense system became a 'zombie' program : In the context of the USA, government agencies spread out their work contacts across various states to provide for jobs. Said jobs sometimes have to be put on the axe because they have been revised or are not obsolete. Representatives from said states force the agency to pay for the project through it's nose, making the construction of said obsolete object complete. This story just fills in the specific details.

Exxon Confirmed Global Warming Consensus in 1982 with In-House Climate Models : Firstly, it was interesting to know that Exxon, the petrochemical giant, had a team of scientists who were trying to understand climate change. Secondly, it's interesting to know that the team published results talking about climate change and how drastic it will be if we don't cut back soon on our emissions, therefore publishing results that seemingly go against the company funding them. Lastly, it was sad to know that the scientists who were pioneers earlier, who built the climate change models and found evidence, are now talking down the climate science models and questioning climate change.

How Many People Can You Remember? : I love the things that come out of fivethirtyeight. They're interesting questions and insightful answers. This is a long and winding answer to such a question : How many people can we remember. And looking for a solution for the problem takes you through sociological studies, acquaintanceship volume and Christmas cards.

The Riveting, Blackout-Inducing World of Plane Racing : I hope you know about Red Bull's Air Race because Oh My God is it awesome. It's a single seater plane moving, flying through a course and trying to do it the fastest, during the pilot and the plane endure acceleration of upto 5gs or more. It's blackout inducing because the human body wasn't built to endure 5g's of acceleration. We start getting tunnel vision and we eventually blackout completely.

This Photo Captured Pluto 5 Years Before Its Official Discovery : I don't know how many of you remember that there was a time when photographic reels existed and one had to replace them in cameras to be able to save pictures. And the photographic reels had to be *developed*, where the *negatives* are converted into pictures. Astronomy too used photographic plates (reels are too small and too generic) before the advent of the modern cameras and their CCDs. This is the story of how one such plate was discovered recently which noted a peculiar object in the sky, not documented hitherto, a peculiar object that we can now confirm as pluto. I have come across a good amount of information on photographic plates and how a lot of them were digitized (and are still being) to give us access to the skies as they were 50-100 years earlier, opening up a huuuge number of potentially interesting objects and observations.

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…