Computing

Category archives for Computing

Driving a Simulated Pendulum

Some time back, I spent a bunch of time writing a VPython program that simulated the motion of a pendulum, which turned out to do some strange things. In the comments to that, there were two things worth mentioning: first and foremost, Arnoques at #5 spotted a small error in the code that fixes the…

Last week, I spent a bunch of time using VPython to simulate a simple pendulum, which was a fun way to fritter away several hours (yes, I’m a great big nerd), and led to some fun physics. I had a little more time to kill, so I did one of the things I mentioned as…

Simulating a Pendulum

There’s a famous story about Richard Feynman at Cornell suffering from the science equivalent of writer’s block, after WWII. He was depressed and feeling like everything he did was pointless, until one day he spotted a student throwing a plate up in the air in the cafeteria. As the plate spun, it wobbled, and the…

Quantum Computing and Chess Problems

In which I steal an analogy from Joe Emerson to explain the limits of quantum computing. ———— As previously noted, a couple of weeks ago I went to Canada for the opening of the University of Waterloo’s new Quantum Nano Center (their photo gallery includes one picture of me being interviewed, along with lots of…

Somebody on Twitter linked this article about “brogrammers”, which is pretty much exactly as horrible as that godawful neologism suggests. In between descriptions of some fairly appalling behavior, though, they throw some stats at you, and that’s where it gets weird: As it is, women remain acutely underrepresented in the coding and engineering professions. According…

Two Women-in-Science Notes

Two things I was forwarded or pointed toward this week, that interact a little oddly. First chronologically is from the New York Times, which has a story about how Harvey Mudd College has boosted the number of female computer science majors, by committing serious resources to reforming the intro course (which is required of all…

We’re in the home stretch of this term, and it has become clear that I won’t actually be using the toy model of the arrow of time I’ve talked about in the past in my timekeeping class this term. These things happen. Having spent a not-insignificant amount of time playing with the thing, though, I…

A Toy Model of the Arrow of Time

The toy model of statistical entropy that I talked about the other day is the sort of thing that, were I a good computational physicist, I would’ve banged out very quickly. I’m not a good computational physicist, but by cargo-culting my way through some of the VPython examples, I managed to get something that mostly…

I’m fairly certain somebody has already done this, because it’s such an obvious idea. It’s a little beyond my cargo-cult VPython skills right at the moment, though (I can probably learn to do it, but not right now), and I none of the applets I Googled up seemed to be doing this, so I’m posting…

Machine Translation Lets Me Down

It’s a sign of how good computers have gotten that I’m faintly offended whenever Google Translate fails to come up with something even halfway sensible. I mean, translating a blog post from one language to another is a ridiculously difficult problem, and yet they usually do a passable job. It’s only when the vanity search…