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September 30, 2005

Music by Cellular Automata

Wolfram Research, the company behind Mathematica & webMathematica and the amazing MathWorld resource site, among other things, has given us a new toy to play with.

WolframTones, 'an experiment in applying Wolfram's discoveries to the creation of music'.

From the official announcement:
'WolframTones uses various Mathematica algorithms to create music from cellular automaton patterns. In its simplest form, this works by taking every block of contiguous black cells at a certain height and mapping it to a single note played by the same instrument.'

September 29, 2005

Cool toys and Supporting GalaxyGoo

We've updated the links on the Toy List page. So, they should all be working now. MindWare had changed their linking system, and we needed to update accordingly.

GalaxyGoo recieves 10% of sales through these links to the MindWare online store, so you can shop for brainy toys and support GalaxyGoo at the same time.

September 28, 2005

Art Intersect Science Press Release

*** For Immediate Release ***

GalaxyGoo Auctions Art for Science Education
Artists rally to support math and science education non-profit

San Francisco – September 30, 2005 - On Thursday evening, November 10, over thirty artists and scientists from around the world offer important works of art and stunning scientific images for auction, to support the math and science education organization GalaxyGoo. The first annual Art Intersect Science art show and benefit event (with silent auction) will be held at Lucid Gallery near Union Square in San Francisco.

GalaxyGoo is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to increasing science literacy, and produces the website www.galaxygoo.org. It develops educational software and materials for students and the general public. The GalaxyGoo web site is a public resource, a community center, a collaboration space, and a gallery of experiments in multimedia and online technologies.

“With funding for our schools declining even faster than math and science scores, GalaxyGoo provides an important new resource to help teachers and students” said Kristin Henry, GalaxyGoo founder. “These artists are generously supporting our work by contributing beautiful art that draws its inspiration from science and math. Scientific images can be stunning, and several scientists are also contributing works.”

The art work is exciting and eclectic. The thread that ties these pieces together is a quality of the artists: a curiosity and passion for the beauty in math and science. The Pi Table, by Mike Faruggia, is a circular table hand crafted from steam bent oak, with the irrational number Pi (3.1415…) stamped in a spiral from the middle of the table’s surface to more than 5,000 places. Japanese artist, Akiko Isono contributes a lampwork bead of Satake glass (3cm across) representing a microcosm named “cycle of life under the leaves”. David Goodsell, of the Scripps Research Institute, has donated a fine print of the beautiful, and yet scientifically accurate, watercolor “HIV in Serum”. The show will be on display at Lucid Gallery beginning November 5.

The cause is important. GalaxyGoo develops interactive learning tools, and makes them available for free on the internet at www.galaxygoo.org. Proceeds will support educational projects including those like:

• The Cell Project - designed to reinforce a seventh grade student's standard classroom knowledge with interactive models of animal and plant cells, interactive self-quizzing, and off-screen activities.

• AIDS education - including interactive animation on the molecular biology of an HIV infection, and why HIV is not transmitted by mosquito bites.

• Click-n-Spell with the Elements - provides a fun way to explore the Periodic Table of Elements. In the FlashGoddess online gallery, the game was described as a “novel presentation of the periodic table as a word game. It is surprisingly challenging and satisfying to create words from the elements’ symbols.”

Art Intersect Science Facts:
The benefit event, with silent auction, will be held from 7 – 11 p.m., on November 10. Admission is $20.

Free previews begin on November 5. Lucid Gallery is located at 580 Sutter Street, in San Francisco. Dates for the opening of online biding will be announced on the GalaxyGoo website.

For more information please visit: http://www.galaxygoo.org/whoarewe/benefit_2005.html

* End *

Evolution Resources for Teachers

The National Science Teachers Association has great resources on Evolution for teachers.

September 22, 2005

Where are the Active Forums?

Where are the active forums for learning Flash nowdays? Especially for the new features of Flash8?

September 21, 2005

Technorati buzz on NYTimes article

Technorati Search for: a new york times article on challenges science museums face

September 16, 2005

Art Intersect Science Update

The lists of confirmed artists, scientists and authors for Art Intersect Science just keeps growing and growing. Excitement builds, as the artwork arrives and we open the packages. Each day there is something new and wonderful.

Even the business side of the event has an element of fun ;-)

We've come up with sponsorship levels, in character with GalaxyGoo.

Carbon (C) -- the basis of life $50-$99
Neon (Ne) -- lights up the night $100 - $499
Argon (Ar) -- a noble gift $500 - $999
Iron (Fe) -- keeps us strong $1,000 - $4,999
Krypton (Kr) -- gives us super powers $5,000 +

September 12, 2005

A surreal moment of celebrity

This weekend, my family and I went out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We've been going there for years. We had just placed our order, and the kids were all set with their colored pencils and paper, when a young woman came to the table and asked if she could ask me a question. I figured it was about our order, since she worked at the restaurant. She said that she was a design student, and that she was reading a book on Flash...and...was I the one in the book? New Masters of Flash?

I was completely surprised. It was a very strange experience, to be recognized for my work in Flash in a very non-Flash part of my life. We talked a little bit, but I was with my family and wanted to focus on them.

The strangest part of it, to me, was her surprise that the geek in the book could be the same woman she saw before her in full mom-mode. I generally keep my personal life off-line, but I do have one. It's not so much that I don't want to talk about them, it's more that part of me is theirs. I don't know if that makes any sense.

September 05, 2005

Collision Detection

For a project I'm working on, I need some optimized collision detection. I've been tinkering with some of Keith Peter's experiments, and looking at Grant Skinner's grid-based collision detection, but I need some deep understanding in background theory as well as applications. So I ordered this book: Real-Time Collision Detection. Hopefully, I can mentally digest it before my children go off to college.

If you know of some great learning resources for collision detection, please post in the comments.

By the way, we don't get a commission on sales from that link. Elsevier just had a really good break-down of the chapters. If you're planning on ordering the book, and would like to send a commission our way, please order through this link at Stacey's.

September 04, 2005

Did change in the user interface change television?

A few days ago, I posted about Wired's interview with Jon Stewart. Obviously, I found the interview interesting, because I'm still thinking about it.

At one point they talk about how some cable shows are very good, and are challenging the notion that network television is a higher quality than cable. Well, I'm a geek, so I'd have to agree with that. The few shows I regularly watch are on cable (The Daily Show, Stargate, and Battlestar Galactica).

Stewart says that people pay attention to how good a show is, not the channel number. This is where the geek in me kicks in, and I start thinking "it's all about the interface! " If you have to go through the channels sequentially and physically, with a dial, 9 seems very distant from 44.

When I was a kid, our TV had two dials: one for major networks (2-13) and one for everything else. Then came the remote control. It didn't just create the couch potato, it helped prime us for quality cable shows. I'm guessing that it wasn't the remote controlling that was important, but the number pad. Conceptually, this put all the channels right next to each other. Here in San Francisco, Comedy Central is on 63. That's just two button "clicks"; same number of steps needed to get to channel 13, a network channel. Compare that to turning the main dial to "U", and then turning the secondary dial to 63.

Just some thoughts.

September 02, 2005

Speaking About Flash

Since I tend toward the less traveled paths, I'd like to get some feedback on what my fellow travelers are interested in. If you were going to a Flash conference, and I was speaking, what would you like me to talk about?

Images of Katrina from NASA

NASA has some impressive images of Katrina online: EO Natural Hazards: Hurricane Katrina.

Thanks for the link, Rob.

Wired Reviews book on Science and Politics

Nice book review, by Brian Alexander over at Wired. We don't discuss politics here, but I found this an interesting review, given current attitudes about science.

September 01, 2005

The Victorian Internet

This looks like a very interesting book. I often feel like a Victorian scholar, communicating with distant colleagues.

The Victorian Internet:
The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers
by
Tom Standage.

Internet Rallies for Storm Relief

Craig's list has a special page for those who want to donate or volunteer, helping in the wake of Katrina. Cash is most needed. Relief organizations are good at what they do. They're organized, and have the skills needed. But it takes money to carry out much needed relief efforts.

There's a good article on the BBC site, about the how the Internet rallies for storm relief