« October 2004 | Main | December 2004 »

November 30, 2004

Article on anti-evolution school board

Anti-evolution teachings gain foothold in U.S. schools / Evangelicals see flaws in Darwinism

Ms Scott, quoted in the article, and the director of the National Center for Science Education is an eloquent and seemingly tireless champion of reason and calm even in the face of deeply emotional issues. We could all learn from her example. I was very much impressed with her when she participated in a panel discussion on communicating Science to the public, at an AAAS meeting last year.


Some of my childhood was spent in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. I have fond memories of tie-dye parties and playing in the woods--of mist rising from the redwood "fences" in the morning.

But one of my favorite things to do was to make sunprints. Other than my lightbrite, this is toy made the biggest impression on my young mind. They're very simple, really--light sensative paper that fixes with water. You place a leaf, or other object on the paper, cover it with glass, and leave it in the sun for a few minutes. Then you rinse it off with water. I just couldn't get enough of this stuff.

I just found it again! Sunprint® Kits

These were developed by Lawrence Hall of Science, across the Bay from San Francisco.

November 26, 2004

Shop and Support GalaxyGoo

Support GalaxyGoo while shopping. I've compiled a list of great toys in affiliation with MindWare--even added some thumbnail images for easy browsing. Ten percent of purchases made through the links on this page will benefit GalaxyGoo.

I posted about becoming a Mindware affiliate a few weeks ago. The Math Calendar I mentioned in that post isn't on the big list, though.

November 23, 2004

What is a cell?

A lot of folks have been asking me what I'm looking for in the Cell Challenge. Creativity, that's what I'm looking for. You can focus on the biological meaning of the word "cell" or you can take a more general meaning. A cell is basically a container.

Frances and I are currently working on a learning tool about the Cell for 7th graders. Here's the page for the project, and here is a partial preview of the tool.

Here are some sites for biological information and inspiration:

Cell's Alive
The Biology Project: Cell Biology
The Cell
Cell Biology Animation
Cell Intelligence
Introduction to Cell and Virus Structure

You don't have to limit your imagination to the biological cell. Here are few other ideas:

Cellular Automata
A fuel cell
Solar Cells

Got an idea you'd like to share?

November 22, 2004

First Entry for Cell Challenge

The first entry for the GalaxyGoo Flash Challenge is on the forums. Each of the two versions display a spectrum of colors based on pi.

Winter 2004 Challenge: Cells!

Email Troubles at GalaxyGoo

Everybody knows that spam is out of control. In an effort to alleviate the deluge, new filters were installed on the GalaxyGoo mail server. Unfortunately, they were a little too strict and some legitimate mail was lost last week. After some fine tuning, we think we have the problem resolved.

If you've sent me an email recently, please resend. Make sure that you use "dot org" and not "dot com".

Contact forms are also functioning.

Thank you for your patience.

November 17, 2004

Cell Flash Challenge: some thoughts

DNA may be the blueprint, but the cell is the basic unit of life. Everything living is composed of one or more cells. Cells live in an environment, and interact with that environment. They eat. They process their food. They eliminate waste. They "talk" to other cells.

For the Cell Flash Challenge, get creative and think about what a cell is--the parts of the cell, how a cell interacts with the world around it including other cells.

Flash to Tangible

Lately, I've been interested in using Flash to generate more literally tangible experiences. One way is to use Flash's print function.

Here's a draft of a learning tool in the Cell Project, that Frances and I have been working on. The student gets both live interaction from the on-screen learning tool and a tangible off-screen activity.

The Algorithmic Beauty Of Plants

For those who are interested in Lindenmayer Systems (aka L-Systems), the authorative book on the subject is 'The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants' by Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz & Aristid Lindenmayer, a book from '90 that saw its 2nd & last pressing in '96. Needless to say, it is hard to come by. Until...

Today I came across this site called Algorithmic Botany, 'the website of the Biological Modeling and Visualization research group in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary'. And guess who leads the department? Professor Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz, the one and only! And what is even better, the aforementioned book is available for download, edited & updated in 2004! Another classic book available to us all! There are also other publications from the department available for perusal and download. How nice :)

November 13, 2004

Still Searching for Bob Crimi

Well, I still haven't found contact information for Bob Crimi, but I got a surprising result when I did a google search on "bob crimi"...my previous post comes up number one. Let's hope he does a vanity search :-)

Google Search: bob crimi

November 12, 2004

GalaxyGoo Flash Challenge: Cells

GalaxyGoo Flash Challenge: Winter 2004

You may submit more than one entry.

Deadline: December 31, 2004

Theme: Cells

Goal: To share ideas and explore artistic and scientific expressions in the medium of Flash.

Rules: Be creative, comment and share your code, site your references and influences...give credit where credit is due. GalaxyGoo Employees and contract service providers are ineligible to win.

How to enter: Post in the GalaxyGoo forums, and upload a zipped file with your swf, fla and any supporting files. A readme.txt file is encouraged. If you're not already a registered member of the GalaxyGoo forums, registration will be necessary.

How to Win: Once all the entries are in, we'll set up a poll where all registered forum members can vote for their favorite entry. You choose the winners. In the event of a tie, a member of the GalaxyGoo board of directors will decide on the winning entry. Entries may be invited to participate in the GalaxyGoo Curiouser Blog Project.

Prizes: 1st prize is all three volumes of New Masters of Flash. 2nd prize is volume three of New Masters of Flash.

By entering this competition you agree to allow GalaxyGoo, a non-profit organization, the nonexclusive rights to use your work according to the GalaxyGoo author's agreement. With the agreement, you give GalaxyGoo permission to publish your work, but you retain rights to it.

MXEurope Cancelled

Just got word that MXEurope has been canceled. So, I won't be making the trip to London. There were a lot of folks I was looking forward to seeing. I'm rather disappointed, but these things happen.

November 10, 2004

Coders have more fun with Prime Numbers

Thru Slashdot, I came across a pretty cool article called Fun With Prime Numbers.
From the author:
'This document has absolutely no redeeming social value. The prime number algorithms you find in this document won't break any records. If you want a REALLY fast prime algorithm, they're scattered all over the net.

This document contains a bunch of programs to figure out prime numbers. The first rendition requires 1:23 (one minute 23 seconds) to calculate all primes below ten million. From there, improvements are made, dead ends are explored and backed out of, leading to the final version, which finds all primes below 40 billion in less than 4 hours, and can find all primes below 100 million in less than 13 seconds. From there, if you really enjoy prime numbers, you can venture out on the net to find truly optimized algorithms.

But meantime, have fun!'

The article comes complete with the algorithms coded up in C so you can start number-crunching right away if you want to! Have fun (with prime numbers)!

November 06, 2004

Oliver Byrne's edition of Euclid

I just came across this gem of a site, Oliver Byrne's edition of Euclid...

From the site's introduction: 'An unusual and attractive edition of Euclid was published in 1847 in England, edited by an otherwise unknown mathematician named Oliver Byrne. It covers the first 6 books of Euclid, which range through most of elementary plane geometry and the theory of proportions. What distinguishes Byrne's edition is that he attempts to present Euclid's proofs in terms of pictures, using as little text - and in particular as few labels - as possible. What makes the book especially striking is his use of colour.'

A striking book it is indeed! The site attempts to put the book online with photographs of the pages and comparisons to other editions. Do check it out, even if only to see a truly original approach to geometry (esp for that era).

November 05, 2004

Meetings in April

Looks like I'll be speaking at the April FlashForward Conference, here in San Francisco. This year, I want to be sure to meet up with as many folks in the education field as possible...maybe a short companion meeting? I'm currently investigating possibilities.

November 02, 2004

Mathematics Calendar 2005

GalaxyGoo just became an affiliate of mindware.com. I love this company, and I'm thrilled that they've begun an affiliate program. They have the best collection of "brainy toys for kids of all ages" I've ever seen in a catalog--both educational and creative.

I was already planning to post about some of my favorite toys in the next couple months. I'll still be doing this, but also with links that could benefit GalaxyGoo.

To kick things off, here's a great calendar by Theoni Pappas, who also wrote Mathematical Scandals, and Mathematical Footprints--both of which are in my personal library.

The Mathematics Calendar 2005