September 20th, 2005

krazy koati

You'll find that it's stranger than known

I noticed there's miscellaneous things from recent entries I forgot to include, so I'll just put them here before I forget. At the Maple demonstration one really neat new trick was unveiled -- a guess-at formula command whose name I forget. The idea is, you could enter in a number, eg, 4.555806, and have Maple guess at the formula to produce it, in this case, Pi + Sqrt(2). If I had this tool, I might never get even my infinitesimal bit of work done again.

The new Maple also attempts to introduce a handwriting-recognition scheme, so that if one somehow can't remember the name of an otherwise unidentifiable squiggle (mathematicians generally call any otherwise unidentifiable squiggle `xi', to the infinite confusion of students), one can open up the handwriting recognition panel and try to draw it with the mouse. The presenter demonstrated this, trying to draw π, which the program successfully identified as α. And as the ≅ symbol, and as ∠, and as ρ, and as ξ, and as Ξ, and as ζ and the proportional-to symbol that looks like α which doesn't seem to be in the markup standards ... everything but π. He followed up by showing that you could also just type in Pi for it, just like always.

At the science presentations, one group of students had built a trebuchet, showing how much the international trebuchet leagues owe to Dave Barry's columns on the subject. Theirs was a little tabletop-size model, and they ran experiments determining they could get better range with a longer throwing arm and greater balancing weight. I got the sense they really, really wanted to demonstrate it, but there was nowhere suitable in the presentation room. Few things are more lonely than a trebuchet in drydock.

And then I just noticed a rec.arts.animation post that Norm Prescott, who with Lou Scheimer created Filmation, died a couple months ago. Blast that, again. And there's still no word of the Star Trek cartoon getting a DVD release, much less the My Favorite Martian or the Gilligan's Planet cartoons.

Trivia: The first ship attacked by Edward Teach with the Queen Anne's Revenge was the Great Allen, with Captain Christopher Tyler, off Saint Vincent. Source: Under the Black Flag: Exploits of the Most Notorious Pirates, Don C Seitz.

Currently Reading: The Web Between The Worlds, Charles Sheffield.