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Pocket Reading List : Week 2.2 of April

How We Found the Dinosaur Doomsday Site : Please tell me that I wasn't the only person who didn't know that scientists were fairly convinced of the location of the asteroid that supposedly killed off the dinosaurs! And the scientists are now conducting an expedition to drill and extract tons of rock from the location on the sea floor to study the rock and understand the event that even toddlers know about!

You have no idea where camels really come from : Science is an amazing thing! It's surprising how every day there's something new to learn. Today, you'll learn that the erstwhile camels that are ubiquitous in the deserts might actually be from the arctic! Hooves thought to have evolved to help them move in the slippery sand could have actually evolved to help them walk on snow! Humps that were supposed to have evolved to help them store water and energy in the desert could have actually evolved to do the same in a frozen arctic!

Mind-Blowing Magic Magnets - Smarter Every Day 153 : You can skip the first minute or so of the video because it gets really interesting afterwards. As we all know, magnets have two poles, North and South, which are usually on opposite sides of a chunk of material. This video taught me that not only can we print magnets on to a material, we can also place the North and South poles of the magnet on the same side leading to a stronger magnetic field near the surface!

One Man’s Impossible Quest to Read—and Review—the World : This is the story of a man who, as mentioned in the title, wants to read about everything in the world! What I found interesting about this man was how he was able to draw similarities between disparate authors and works to talk about how one could have inspired the other or how two people wrote about the same event, decades apart!

Buck v. Bell: Inside the SCOTUS Case That Led to Forced Sterilization of 70,000 & Inspired the Nazis : Nazi scientists were put on the stand, after Hitler surrendered, or rather died, and Germany was defeated and asked the question as to how they could justify killing off and sterilising Jewish people! And surprisingly, the Nazi scientists pointed their finger back at scientists, and the Supreme Court, of the USA and how forced sterilisation was not only legal but widely rampant in pre-1940 USA.

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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…