Thursday, November 14, 2019

Footnote About Buckyballs


Mysteries Behind Interstellar Buckyballs Finally Answered
Mimicking conditions thought to exist around dying stars, researchers discovered a mechanism that could explain why planetary nebulae are teeming with complex carbon molecules.
Rachel Abraham, NASA Space Grant Science Writing Intern, University Communications, Nov. 13, 2019
My understanding of the story is Sir Harold Kroto, astronomer, first detected C60 using telescopic spectroscopy. He hypothesized the buckyball structure, whereas others supposed chain polymers. The Rice University team was enlisted, as their lasers and mass spectrometers would help narrow it down. 

The verdict: buckyballs form naturally in soot. 

Getting pure C60 remained a major technical problem and cost more than gold by weight in the 1980s. In short: C60 was detected in interstellar space before anyone tried to synthesize and detect it in the lab. You can see how my story deviates from the story provided.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Making Media


I was back at the Krobar today (Cork and Tap), where the bartender kindly looked up Tiger Balm (aisle 21) which I procured for Carol, suffering from a well-known chest cold she sometimes gets in Oregon, where the spikes in hot and cold may prove taxing.

This was after producing another video, hoping to connect some dots for myself an others.  I invest in mnemonics, which is to say memory banking.

You'll find a lot of business models bank on customers remembering where they learned a lot, or in some other way got their money's worth.

Customer loyalty translates into repeat business, and without repeat business, you may run out of customers (not always the case, as some needs remain transient).


I'm hoping to orient students who do not consider themselves "true believers" when it comes to deities or a deity. I'm working to tease apart "prayer" and any specific form of deism. 

Having friends in religious camps doesn't cancel my appreciation for secular space as a kind of neutral ground between faiths, much like the emptiness of outer space, not really a vacuum either.


I just had the one Boneyard RPM. Having procured the necessary supplies, I'm keeping a close watch on the household.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Beertopia

I've gone on and off beer a few times, however not on moral grounds, so much as for health reasons (for going on, not just off). When I go off beer, I up other alcohol beverages, keeping it constant, more or less.

This is not health advice, and I'm no medical doctor.  Call me a witch doctor if you like, but to me that just means I'm not hanging out a shingle, as one who wants to be persecuted for practicing voodoo or whatever shamanistic science (oxymoron alert!).

I'm just another Quaker who likes beer, and who takes pride in Quaker breweries, if the beer is any good.

Anyway, I was at one of my regular watering holes with a friend I'd not seen in a long time, on her way back to an important career, which had sent her here for a conference.  I introduced myself casually to one of the bar customers, and started yakking with the bartender.  My friend took up with the stranger and they talked on and on and on.

Well of course it turned out later that my friend had mistaken my casual introduction to a stranger, for a nod to a well-known friend.  She thought in sharing her life with this guy, she was likewise filling me in, as he and I would be talking later.  I doubt I'll ever see him again.

Another time on the same visit, my friend got my mother talking about her childhood and sharing stories I hardly ever, if ever, have heard.  Not pleasant stories (about how her older brother was killed when he roamed out in a new neighborhood to explore a construction site) but also not often heard.  However my friend assumed mom frequently told this story, and that I'd heard it many times before.

I think that's what old friendships, renewed much later in time, sometimes engender:  new forms of misunderstanding that aren't necessarily damaging, more like instructive. 

I mean, you're free to put a negative spin on just about anything uncomfortable, but if you're able to afford a positive spin, you'll be propelled into new fun adventures.

Or such is the PR.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Studying Ancient Lore

Those already inner circle to "the gossip" know Python, the computer language, got its name from Monty Python, the famous Anglophone comedy troupe. Where did the latter get its name? Ah, well now, feel free to dive down that rabbit hole.

In the meantime, we have the ancient Greeks in the background, with their hallucinogenic (?) rotting snake carcass, if we're to believe the myth, not that myths are designed to be believed (not by Protestants anyway, after what all they've done to that word).

I'm referring to the famous myth of Apollo, who displayed adult masculine qualities quite early in his youth, one of his first feats being the heroic protection of his mother, Leto, and Zeus's ex.  Apollo slew the great Python that the new Mrs. Zeus (Hera) had sicced on Leto, Zeus being his dad.

True also, is Athena enjoyed cult status among the Delphians and her lineage potentially traces back to sybils (female seers) well before the Pythian ones were installed to serve Apollo.  Vapors rising from the rotting Python under Mt. Parnassus is what supposedly gave them powers.

We might use Athena's story as a portal back to a more Amazonian root, wherein women were known to handle snakes (symbolic of their healing power).  Yes, we're somewhat talking about Wonder Woman here, invented later, but with the same Greek pantheon for a backdrop.

Spreading such lore in North America, today, is more the business of the comic book and blockbuster entertainment business, than it is of any practicing cult.  A Python programmer is more likely to absorb memes such as these through pop culture than through anything like formal scholarship.  The latter is about studying myths as these were cast in ancient times.  Contemporary broadcasting is something else entirely.

Apollo is conventionally cast as the archetypally rational, but at what cost?  Some young anglophone gents I was listening to on Youtube, suggested Europe had struck a Faustian bargain to obtain a rationalist enlightenment, at the cost of its soul (Philemon).  Goethe, Nietzsche and others were hoping to revitalize the moral fiber (which translates into morale in many ways), but the collective madness of world wars proved overwhelming.

Contrasting the Apollonian with the Dionysian has become cliche. Indeed, Apollo took off at the end of autumn, allowing the Dionysians to see Delphi through the winter.  Apollo would return in the spring.  The arrangement, from this distance (21st Century) seems symbiotic.  Athena, going back to the original Gaen wisdom, is in her furious form more a Medusa herself.

I'd be off base to suggest I'm alone in my willingness to connect Python, the computer language, to the mythological lore.  From the early days, Medusa was a way to deal with the tangle of asynchronous programming, which reinvented itself as Twisted, and then in the Standard Library, as asyncio.

What Apollonians might call "rot" (as in "rots the brain") is to others the sweet vapor of insight, conferring oracular or ocular powers (points of view) upon the Muse inspired programmer.  Athena is the goddess of crafts, including military (e.g. arts, including martial).  She helps with the process of individuation, within the minds of her PyLadies (Pythians).

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Looking Back on Coding

Coding interactively is a rather different experience than coding "off line" (as it were), then running source through a compiler, then testing the results.  I learned to appreciate that difference early, as I had FORTRAN and PL/1 in my face even as I was using APL (Kenneth Iverson's) from the terminal.

Given how enamored I was with using an interactive shell, more like Logo's, it stands to reason I would follow the dBase "dot prompt" in the direction of FoxPro, and then Visual FoxPro (VFP), which the language eventually became under Microsoft's dominion.

However, those more well-versed and well-rounded, know it's not either/or, given Python itself is written in C, and extended in C++ and all that.  The joy of running C code interactively is what Python is all about, one could say.  Furthermore, it's somewhat inaccurate to say interactive languages don't feature a compilation step.  We have the bytecode layer, and a virtual machine (such as Java's) to think about.

Be that as it may, I stayed with the more interactive environment, which has more recently evolved into the Notebook environment.  Steve Holden was nudging me to look at those early on, and I did, but just a little.  I've subsequently come to better appreciate their significance, along the lines of that article in Atlantic Monthly.

In addition to an interactive chat-like "dot prompt" or "prompted" environment (now sported by JavaScript thanks to Node, right?), another feature that makes language learning so much easier (in my experience) is something concrete and visual, in your face, to code against.  I'm talking about everything from physical robots to virtual on-screen turtles.  Just having something there in the sandbox to play with, that's palpable, is a big aid to comprehension.

Eventually, we come to see a lot of what we're controlling "inside our heads" (goes the expression) and so may be less dependent on training wheel visuals.  If you're into rendering colorful geometries on screen, or fractals or what not, then "leaving the visualizations behind" is not a goal, let alone much of an option.  Under visualization comes plotting (making plots, charts), so it's not like having colorful, shapely output is that esoteric a fascination.

I think a lot of us will agree that a sea-change occurred with the evolution of the web browser atop the internet, given tcp/ip works inhouse as much as publicly.  Why not make the user GUI an HTML defined experience?  Indeed, that would become the norm, even though the web browser itself is what we'd call a "thick" application.  Given how it spreads to look through almost every API out there, we could call it "thin" (a lot for a little, more with less).

However, a subsequent revolution after that, was the evolution of the smartphone-based app.  The general purpose browser is still there, but the special purpose client-side application is again a driving thing.  I didn't jump into the app business.  I'm not that fascinated by tiny screens.  I stayed with Python, especially teaching it, while gradually moving more into video-casting as a medium.  Given my focus on geometry, it makes sense that I'd gravitate to a "show and tell rectangle" more like a movie theater's.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

On Turing, Coding, and Gender


Thanks to greater STEAM-PATH integration, intersecting on A (for Anthropology), I'm able to segue to and from Engineering and issues around gender, pronouns and stereotyping.

In the School of Tomorrow, you're chugging along in cryptography when, boom, you're looking at white supremacist propaganda or some other flavor Social Darwinism.  We don't shy away from social issues, just because we're focusing on maths.  Who has that luxury?

That being said, when we do buckle down and focus on code, it's against the backdrop of a more relaxed philosophy, meaning we know we're free to think globally, even while coding locally.

The Python community has had to wrestle with Codes of Conduct already, so it's not like we're new at this game.  You may be able to find some public archives wherein we've done some of our processing (search on Python Software Foundation).

Friday, August 30, 2019

Recruiting and Orientation (Back to School series)


Nothing too fancy here.  Some homegrown Oregonian response to the real Fuller challenge:  how to get this newer stuff integrated.  I show by example.

For those just joining us, we've been recently investigating an extension of the Wayne Roberts' "etu" idea (equilateral triangular units) to the "etu" of Bucky Fuller's Synergetics ("equilateral tetrahedral units"), a core concept in so-called Martian Math.

I'm somewhat bumbling along in this one (below), reiterating how three edges a, b, c multiplied, give abc the volume  by "closing the lid" in a tetrahedral model of multiplication.

 What are the practical applications? A better understanding of American literature you say?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

More Film Analysis


Analyzing old films like this is a common pass time on Youtube.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Wanderers Happening

P1090815
:: Hawthorne Street Fair ::

I'm calling what's happening tonight a "Wanderers Happening" while being deliberately vague on what that means. We've never gone with a membership roster.  Dues were for the coffee fund.

You'll have seen the drift into video as my medium of choice a lot of the time.  I appreciate the bandwidth and the different blend of skills.  We learn by doing.  Since I'm doing stuff like teaching online anyway...  staying in practice.

The venue is not Linus Pauling House nor anywhere in Asylum District, and no, not at the gallery either, although that seems to be coming along.

P1090825