It started in January with a local PBS show. I was trying to figure out a really good gift for a really good friend with a birthday in March. I often feel I’m a poor gift giver. It’s not a lack of generosity but that I forget to allow the time necessary for proper gift selection. I find I need that time to find something that both appeals to me and (more importantly) is a great fit for the recipient.
Part of my gift giving philosophy is that the gift should be something I’d almost rather keep than give away. I figure if it appeals to me, it should appeal to my (generally like-minded) friends. I’m not sure that logic always follows, but c’est la vie.
Anyway, I was watching PBS…
Last post I wrote about a simple substitution cipher Robert J. Sawyer used in his 2012 science fiction political thriller, Triggers. This post I’m writing about a completely different cool thing from a different book by Sawyer, The Terminal Experiment. Published in 1995, it’s one of his earlier novels. It won both a Nebula and a Hugo.
I described the story when I posted about Sawyer, and I’ll let that suffice. As with the previous post, this post isn’t about the plot or theme of the novel. It’s about a single thing mentioned in the book — something that made me think, “Oh! That would be fun to try!”
It’s about a very simple simulation of evolution using random mutations and a “most fit” filter to select a desired final result.
We live in an era of unprecedented change. My grandparents’ generation saw the rise of the automobile. My parents’ generation saw the rise of space travel. My generation saw the rise of the digital world and social technology. The current generation is seeing the rise of the robots.
A bit over two years ago I posted An Uprising of Robots. (We haven’t picked a collective noun for robots, but my submissions are an uprising of and a clank of.) That post featured Atlas, the Boston Dynamics humanoid robot, and Spot, the four-legged “dog” robot (seen in the image here).
Since I posted that, Spot has become a hit on YouTube and has entered the work force, so here’s a Wednesday Wow starring Spot, the $75,000 robot dog.
I posted a while back about the wonders of Fourier Curves, and I’ve posted many times about Euler’s Formula and other graphical wonders of the complex plane. Recently, a Numberphile video introduced me to another graphical wonder: Euler Spirals. They’re one of those very simple ideas that results in almost infinite variety (because of chaos).
As it turned out, the video (videos, actually) led to a number of fun diversions that have kept me occupied recently. (Numberphile has inspired more than a few projects over the years. Cool ideas I just had to try for myself.)
This all has to do with virtual turtles.
It’s been a while since the last Wednesday Wow post. It isn’t so much a lack of things that invoked a “Wow!” so much as that they were the wrong polarity of wow — negative rather than positive. (Speaking of which, I’ll be posting soon about Sprint-which-is-now-T-Mobile, Apple, and some other tech companies that have wowed me in quite the wrong direction. Why are tech companies so awful?)
But as I watched some videos by one of my new favorite YouTube channels, The Critical Drinker, I was (in both senses of the word) positively wowed by two of his videos about two outstanding and worthwhile movies.
And in general, he does some of the best movie reviews I know.
It’s no secret; I’m hard to impress. I’ve seen a lot, done a lot, been places, learned stuff, bought the tee-shirts. I’m not willfully hard to impress; I don’t resist being impressed. It’s just that after all these years it takes something genuinely impressive.
Like volcanoes. They’re impressive. Something about lava really grabs me. Rock running like molasses; I want to play in it. Yet somehow there is only one volcano in my heart: Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawai’i. I’m so impressed I did two Wednesday Wow posts about it.
And this baby makes three…
Lately I’ve been playing a little game of What’s the Wavelength? The question is certainly a bit evocative. Wavelength could refer to many things: a favorite radio station or, metaphorically extended, a favorite anything. It might even evoke an old news meme, although the supposed question posed that time was about frequency (which is just the inverse of wavelength).
Wavelength might even apply to one’s political, social, sexual, musical, or whatever, alignment, but in this case I mean it literally and physically. Under quantum mechanics — our best description of small-scale physical reality — everything manifests as a wave. That means everything has a wavelength — the de Broglie wavelength.
I’ve been curious about it for a couple of reasons.
The Wednesday Wow posts have been a bit off the beam recently. Four weeks ago we were wowed (but not in a good way) by an incited insurrection by an incompetent imbecile. Two weeks ago we were wowed (in a great way) by the inclusive Inauguration of the incoming Individual.
With all that more or less behind us, I have time to be wowed by interesting (and depressing) information about the insidious infection infesting the country and the world. I mention both because I became intrigued by difference between them.
It all started when I noticed the COVID-19 graphic on CNN.
Today the sun simultaneously set and rose. We had our own democratic version of: “The King is dead! Long live the King!” (An old phrase apt given the deposed would-be kinglet.)
I imagine many of us will go to sleep happier tonight than we have in years.
I’ve been in a state of anticipation over the state of Georgia. I wondered if I might possibly wake up to a Democratic Senate this morning. As of last night, the Blues were trailing slightly behind. This morning I find they’ve called for Raphael Warnock (“Ding Dong, the witch is dead”), and it’s looking good for Jon Ossoff.
Today is also the day Congress meets, presided over by the VP, to officially count the electoral votes. It’s the last hurdle in an election badly polluted by bald lies and Constitutional sedition. The corruption and filth of the GOP is far beyond the pale.
Hell of a Wednesday. We could probably use a distraction…