Friday, October 12, 2018

Welcome to "Sesame Street"

Another Vintage Atom

As a way of embedding a cultural icon, influential on me among many, I've oft referred to a certain "concentric hierarchy" as "the Sesame Street of Synergetics".

I'm of course talking about a "stack" of concentrically arranged (one could say layered) topological frameworks, Eulerian networks.

You may think in terms of great circles and how we used to imagine electrons flying along geodesics, in those ancient movies about "the atom".  That's the kind of mental imagery we encourage, even if we're not literally talking about an atom.

The great circles remain, absent any specific frequency or special case interpretation.

However, the strobe light may reveal a shape at a "stand still" that's more what we might have grown up calling "Platonic".  When spinning around any pair of poles, we get a readout.

A lot of schools left those out (the Five Platonics), so if you don't know what a tetrahedron is, you're in good company.

After a few Sesame Street level videos, some time with puppets, some hands-on time exploring tactile senses (Gibbs-ish ala solid, liquid and gas), you'll be clear not only on what a tetrahedron is, but several other such hedrons (or hedra) as well.

You'll be ready for kindergarten in no time!

Not that your vocabulary needs to get that big right away.  Keep watching, stay tuned.


Two tetrahedrons intersecting, give a cube, its dual the octahedron, their pairing a dodecahedron of diamond faces, space-filling (and not Platonic).

Said RD has volume 6 with respect to said cube (3) and tetrahedron (1), octahedron (4).

The dual of the RD, the VE (cuboctahedron), scales to bridge the twelve centers of closest packed unit-radius spheres to:

(A) their nearest neighbors and
(B) to a shared nucleus.

1, 12, 42, 92... a lot of you know this already.  The tetrahedron connects four of such spheres and serves as unit.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Python in the News

Atom, Spyder, Pandas and Numpy

I quizzed my class tonight:  "Why is Python in the news again?"

The hint:  someone famous, as in prize-worthy, is a fan thereof.

I talked about ISEPP (Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy) and the big name lecture series (Goodall, Leakey, Sagan...), suggesting someone of stature.

Answer (revealed after suitable time):  Paul Romer, just awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics (shared).

He's a big promoter of the Jupyter Notebook ecosystem, of which Python is a big part (explains the "py").

Actually, the ties to ISEPP are closer in that Terry, the ringleader, is a Romer fan and cites him in his slides and videos.  That's probably why Wanderers were tracking from the get go.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Columbus Day


I had a good meetup with the family physician, in their new facility.  So the theme was already medical, including pharmacy.  Then it turned out Carol had lost the med I'd just fetched for her on immediate notice, from a somewhat far away pharmacy.

Our local one is all out.  I got that done, but that was over 24 hours ago.  Since then, she's lost the whole vial.  Yikes.  We've looked high and low.  [Followup:  pills found, atop under-desk files, October 10].

She's on the horn now, with another pharmacy, hoping to get a another refill.  I'm not going to take away her starring role on the phone.  I'm a blogger.  She's got her own iPhone account.

I'm likely to be sent out to refill the refill.  I can overhear the conversation.

... OK, back from that errand.  This time we'll keep a backup of ten pills or so.

I took the camera, and was glad of an opportunity to zap a few in a Petco, as well as in the Glisan, Fred Meyer.  The pharmacy was busy, yet friendly and already had Carol's order in the queue.  That's what gave me the time for a photo shoot.  Around Halloween, that's special.

Dog Food

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The Playa

I'm lifting this term Playa from its Burning Man context.  That's an annual EPCOT-like experience wherein teams experiment with prototypes for tomorrow.

However, we don't see big engineering firms representing at Burning Man.  Maybe some of their people join a crew, but you won't see pavilions from Boeing, Siemens or Google.  That's a bit worrisome.

Sure, humans learned how to build geodesic spheres and domes in the 1900s, but did they ever attempt a really big one after Montreal, way back in 1967?  Was any bigger?

We expect the sea levels to rise, and even if they don't, we might need to build whole cities from scratch for other reasons.  What about that OMR design?

Old Man River was like a super-sized stadium in design, with or without the mile wide dome.  That means terraced, like rice paddies, around the interior.  The circular city could be built in sections, using giant A-shaped sections.

Were these ideas practical?  One needs to experiment, and scale models don't always tell the whole story.  Engineers need to try stuff, not just to get the physics right, but to learn the workflows and building techniques.

We're leaving all that to Burning Man apparently.  Or research into large scale structures might be happening in places I don't know about.  Does Google Earth block them out?