31 August, 2004

Tax-funded software that harms my productivity

I spent all of last evening programming a Maplet (an interactive Maple object) for a seminar September 8th, to demonstrate the most recent result of my research. It shouldn't have taken all evening, but I make some really boneheaded programming errors.

What's that have to do with tax dollars, you ask? According to mathematical folk takes, Maple originally started life as a research project at the University of Waterloo in Canada. They wanted funding from the Canadian government, and they reasoned that it wouldn't hurt their chances if they named their project Maple (think of the Canadian flag). They were right: it didn't hurt at all.

As for American tax dollars... besides roads, the world's finest military, and my salary (my research is partially supported by an NSF grant), your taxes pay for NASA's JPL, which produced this splendid website: http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/ It simulates the view of one heavenly body in our solar system from another.

I viewed Phobos from Mars, and Jupiter from Europa. If you choose different times, the bodies actually rotate. I wonder how they can predict the weather on Jupiter, but not on earth? :-)

What a fascinating website, and what a great way to waste time! I may never graduate now.

Found this at Steven Riddle's blog Flos Carmeli, where you are bound to find all sorts of wonderful things. Either Steven doesn't have a real job, or he is a terrifyingly fast reader: the man reads and blogs at a rate I can only dream of. He always seems to have new material on his reading list, and remarks on books he's recently finished.

Those who read the links will have noticed Bede's Journal. "Bede" is a British who researches science history (if I've got that right), but his blog advertises itself as The Musings of a Christian Intellectual. His website is a giant library of good Catholic stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack,

Thanks for the explicit referral. I've noticed references, but in my hovering over blogs, I often don't take every link. I'll be sure to visit Bede. Thanks.