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Fifty years

This set of photos from fifty years ago is amazing. 1962 is both not that long ago and incredibly far away.

It’s a wonder that anyone is brave or conceited enough to even try to write science fiction.

So true

Nikola Goddamn Tesla, from The Oatmeal.

That doesn’t seem like enough for a post. But it’s Tesla, so it must be.


Although I’m still not convinced the sarcastic fringehead isn’t really an evil Muppet.

Science Paper Art

I saw Lisa Nilsson’s anatomical paper art on NewScientist this morning.

It’s gorgeous, and precisely hits my sweet spot linking scientific accuracy, beauty, and clever use of materials to mimic form.

Scientific visualization

I’m waiting eagerly for the computer to churn out the results I need for the talk I’m writing. I’m giving it a week from Monday, so some results would be nice. (Highly-trained professional, closed course. Do not attempt at home.)

While I’m waiting, I’ve been looking at some recent scientific visualizations. Ways to portray data that are both informative and beautiful are an interest of mine, and these three examples are really quite good.

Perpetual Ocean: Animated map of global ocean currents from the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The video is lovely.

Hint.fm has put together a similar visualization for winds over the United States, only this one is near real-time. Then compare that to this NASA Earth Observatory map of two extreme circulation patterns that caused drought or flooding.

How about a look at atmospheric composition instead of currents? This visualization of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere from NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory clearly makes the case that the Industrial Revolution changed not just society but the atmosphere as well.

And now, I have some data of my own to visualize.

It’s complicated

Jen Rhee sent me a link to a graphic that she and her team put together on girls in science and tech fields. There’s nothing in there that surprises me, but they’ve done a nice job pulling it together. I’m too busy doing science right now to have much to say about it, but I wanted to share, and I’d welcome any comments.

Girls in STEM

Originally from http://www.engineeringdegree.net/girls-in-stem and now stored directly here because of Engineering Degree’s administrative issues.

How I spent high school

Minus the YouTube, of course.

Let’s go for a ride

In a nice warm enclosed-atmosphere sleigh.

One of the most fascinating things about this, beyond the obvious “It’s another PLANET!!!!” thrill, is how useless terrestrial ideas of pattern and scale are. I spend a lot of time looking at satellite and aerial imagery, and still couldn’t tell you how large or what some of these features are.

The creators could have snuck some microscope images in there, for all I can tell.

Doing it wrong

Things I never learned in grad school:

Girl science is pink, and involves perfume, beauty products, soap, snowflakes, and “Beautiful Blob Slime.” (Please note: I did not make up that last.)

Boy science is blue, spooky and perilous, has physics and chemistry, and “Weird Slime Lab.”

There’s also cosmetic science, which is purple and involves cleaning products.

I’m all for encouraging girls to learn that science is fascinating and fun, especially by showing them that they can make fun things that they’re interested in. But really: gender-themed kits that only use scary words like “chemistry” and “physics” for explicitly male kits?

Science and art and nonsense

My friend Tom left this link on a previous post about science and art: Bathsheba Grossman. I’d looked at her work before, but I don’t think I’d posted it. Science, math and 3D printing- what’s not to like?

Another friend, Eric, left an interesting comment on my post about November writing lessons.

Eric’s comment, reprinted to save you from wandering back and forth:

What NaNoWriMo was not good for this year: I did not write anything close to 50k words, generating about 10k if you include a section of notes I drew up.

What NaNoWriMo was good for this year: I figured out some things about my writing and how I ought to be writing, if I can just implement them and make them work. I learned that I probably need to start writing things backwards instead of trying to write one-thing-leads-to-another like George R.R. Martin or someone like that. I learned that I probably need to stop beating myself up if I don’t write any fiction on a day but still managed to leave a long comment on someone’s blog or elsewhere (e.g. a long forum post defending Star Trek, speaking purely hypothetically).

The big one was the “writing backwards” bit, if I can just teach myself how to do it. Though “not beating myself up” may be important, too: I think I’m realizing something similar to what you said about writing every day, and for almost identical reasons.

So I’m sort of feeling like NaNoWriMo was a “win” for me, even if it absolutely wasn’t even close in formal terms.

Eric and I have had long angsty discussions about similar issues before, and especially on the pros and cons of writing every day.

The moral: there’s no one true way.

This is important.

Irrelevantly, and tantalizingly, the day Eric left that comment he also wrote one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages. And no, I can’t share it with you, but if you ask nicely he might be persuaded to revise it for public consumption.

Changing the subject completely, this Counterexamples to an Old Earth came across my internet today, via Cheryl Morgan and several other people.

This is a fascinating and brain-hurting example of cherry-picking facts, extrapolating trends outside their proper bounds, and every logical fallacy known to philosophers. A number of the trends cited as evidence for a young earth are actually direct or indirect consequences of anthropogenic global warming, and thus relatively recent, but are warped into justification for recent creation.

And that’s leaving aside the factual inaccuracies, which are legion.

If I were still teaching, I think I’d use this as class discussion material.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m hip-deep in Django today, and kind of having fun with it. I’m evaluating candidates for the obsolete web application that broke when I upgraded my work server. It looks like it would take almost as much time to fix it as it would to switch to something current. Science involves a lot of background stuff that needs to be done just so you can get to the good bits, and data management figures heavily in that category.