June 28, 2006

Here & There

Not sure how many more substantial posts I have left in me before the summer blogging break & the sabbatical kick in:

  • Via BoingBoing, a set of pictures giving the relative scale of various astronomical bodies, from the Earth compared to other planets to the Sun compared to other stars.

    Update: From Living the Scientific Life, a link to a page that gives an idea of relative size and distances.
    More impressive are the distances between the bodies. The distance from the Sun to Pluto averages 5,906,376,200 kilometers. To maintain the proportions of the diameters means that the actual distance between the images of the sun and that of Pluto is 5,095,364 pixels. Assuming a screen resolution of 72 dots-per-inch, Pluto lies nearly 1.8 kilometers off-screen to the right! Try scrolling to the right, now--if you use the arrow-button, you would have to scroll for hours, just to get to Mercury! Even scrolling screen-for-screen requires a few minutes to get to Pluto.

  • Via Make, an interactive periodic table. This one's a lot of fun and educational too.
  • An Introduction to Information Theory, it's always nice to see a detailed yet very comprehensible explanation of important mathematical concepts, something that Good Math, Bad Math is very good at providing.
  • Computer Science and Creativity from Jane is a very good explanation of what CS is really all about -- using all your intelligence and creativity to solve problems. Programming can be fun and creative, and if more students understood that, then perhaps CS enrollments wouldn't be quite in the dolldrums they are today. Jane always hits the nail right on the head with posts like this.
  • And speaking of CS, the CRA's Snowbird "Chair's" Conference just took place:
    The biennial CRA Conference at Snowbird brings together the chairs of Ph.D.-granting departments of computer science and computer engineering, as well as leaders from U.S. industrial and government computing research laboratories. A number of other senior people from research groups, government, academia, and professional societies also attend. It is a relatively small (250 people) but very influential group. The goal of the conference is to provide a context in which attendees can discuss practical and strategic issues facing their organizations. This opportunity to network with peers is one of the most valuable aspects of the conference.
    Lots of good conference coverage, both on the CRA's blog and in the ACM's USACM Tech Policy Weblog. The ACM post in particular concentrates on the image of computing and is very interesting and relevant. This post plus Jane's pack a heady one-two punch.

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