Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

Re: Please Don’t Learn to Program

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

This morning Hacker News looked like this:
HN screeny

Jeff Atwood apparently thinks programming isn’t worth learning about, for most people. I think he’s probably right, in the sense that “robots aren’t worth learning about, for most people”. I can think of more examples. “Physics is not worth learning about, for most people”. But that’s rather obvious isn’t it? Why blog about it? Why blog about blogging about it? ;)

Atwood is bashing CodeYear, an initiative to get everyone to learn a little bit about programming. Here’s a retort written by CodeYear’s designer, Sacha Greif. Here’s another retort on Github.

I don’t understand why any of this stuff is worth arguing about. Why does Atwood care what people do with their free time? It seems there are a lot of assumptions being made about the motivations of these aspiring programmers. I see nothing wrong with CodeYear. I see nothing wrong with everyone knowing something about programming (hell, it’ll give me more to talk about at parties), just as I see nothing wrong with everyone knowing a little something about singing. Singing isn’t an essential skill for everybody’s daily life, but neither is math, really, though they both make life more interesting and are worth knowing about. These topics have the potential to enrich our lives, so why not learn about them?

Measuring the speed of light using marshmallows in a microwave

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

I just saw a video here about using neon bulbs to visualize microwaves in a microwave oven.
Another great microwave oven experiment (that I learned from Lynn Cominsky at Sonoma State) is measuring the speed of light (or the frequency of the microwaves emitted) using marshmallows.

1. Cut a bunch of marshmallows in half (or use small ones) and cover a plate with them.

2. Take the rotating platter out of the microwave and place the plate inside. The rotating platter helps cook your food evenly by spinning the food in and out of the microwave’s ‘hot spots’, but for this experiment we want the marshmallows not to cook evenly. The microwaves are emitted from one side of the microwave (where the emitter is located) and bounce off the opposite side, creating standing waves. The anti-nodes (crests) of the standing waves are the ‘hot spots’ I mentioned earlier. The marshmallows will burn along these anti-nodes.

3. Measure the distance between the burn marks. This distance is the wavelength of the microwaves emitted by your microwave.

4. Use this simple wave equation to verify either the speed of light (if your microwave lists its frequency on the back panel) or to determine the frequency of your microwave (given that the speed of light is approximately 3×10^8m/s).

wave equation wavelength = velocity/frequency

Don’t forget to convert your units!

Game Progress 1

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

I’ve been working on another game lately, it’s called Machinista – it’s a game where you control motors in a 2D physics simulation. The entire thing is built around Box2D, which is a great physics system. Last night I worked on using Brownian Bridge fractals for explosions – check it out! Use keys W, A, S, D and shift+click to control the tank and make explosions, respectively.


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