austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

You know that I'm not keen about a bean

I'm famous! Except for the fame part. What happened was I got a request for permission to use something I had written as part of an online resource of mathematics and physics educational tools. This was a Java applet (remember Java?) I wrote somewhere around 2001 which demonstrates the Ising model of ferromagnetism. Ising is, I understand, pronounced ``Ee-sing'', although most folks from North America pronounce it like the stuff for the tops of cakes. Ernst Ising was given the rough idea of the model by his thesis advisor, Wilhelm Lenz, possibly the last time in recorded history the doctoral student got credit for work originating with the advisor. (Ising, though, took the rough idea and turned it into a useful result, mind, and Lenz has fine things like the Laplace-Runge-Lenz vector co-named for him, so people are reasonably appropriately immortalized.) I'll explain the model if someone gives me the slightest encouragement, so consider yourselves warned. It can be hypnotic and played on an Othello board.

Anyway, I wrote this applet for a course my thesis advisor was teaching and forgot it afterwards. Ising model applets are pretty easy to write, and you have to work to not write one if you program in Java much, kind of the way you have to dodge mighty fast to avoid writing a John Conway Game-Of-Life applet. So I was surprised to get the request to include it in this online resource, but also flattered since it's the first honestly good news I've had related in some way to my mathematics work since the textbook briefly reached as high as 1,500,000th rank on Amazon.com.

Looking at the applet anew, I'm a bit embarrassed by the crudeness of the control panel's interface. It's all right, but the layout could be better composed. Yet I'm also surprised to find I put in more parameters than strictly necessary, which may be what brought it to anyone's attention. I'm relieved they like it as it is, as I realize I've completely forgotten how to do graphics in Java. Mostly I remember doing interfaces in Java was so annoying back then I wrote some programs to do all the scut work for me so I could forget it all, and I don't know what I did with those programs. I could probably write a better applet now, but I'd need to start some key parts almost from scratch.

Trivia: Thomas Jefferson wrote to architect Pierre L'Enfant on 27 February 1792 that his services in planning Washington, DC, would not longer be needed. Among other things L'Enfant had earlier in the year submitted a plan for over $1 million in developments against income from land sales of just over $7,000. Source: The Fabric of America, Andro Linklater.

Currently Reading: The Day The Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Gordon Thomas, Max Morgan-Witts.

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