One thing I really enjoyed during my trip to Chicago in August was a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. Our reason for visiting turned out to be rather ghastly, but I did enjoy another exhibit at the museum, The Great Train Story. It is a gigantic model train set, over 3,500 square feet of diorama. Trains head west from a model downtown Chicago, across the Great Plains, into the Rockies and eventually end up at the Seattle waterfront. I was absolutely fascinated by the entire layout, recalling model train sets of my youth. The exhibit featured multiple tracks carrying a myriad of trains; numerous freight trains, passenger trains, commuter rail, the “L”, and even a subway in downtown Chicago. It was a train lover’s delight, and still brings a smile to my face three months later.
For an eerie view of internet activity, check out this animated gif of originating IP addresses for http requests hitting google.com over the course of one day in 2003. This graphic is from a paper on parallel analysis of large data sets, something Google probably has a vested interest in developing.
- The Chymistry of Isaac Newton – an exploration through Newton’s alchemical nature. While I’m at it, let me plug the NOVA website Newton’s Dark Secrets, another exploration of his fascination with alchemy.
- Pompeii: Stories from an Eruption – A companion website to the Field Museum exhibit. Interesting stuff. For those interested in reading more, I’d suggest reading a fine historical novel, Pompeii by Robert Harris.
- Computer Brains in Space – NASA is taking a long hard look at hardening faster microprocessors, or at least building redundant systems for fault tolerance. The problem is that radiation can seriously screw with a microprocessor’s internal logic, throwing transistors and causing erroneous results. The current generation of space-worthy, radiation-hardened microchips are too slow and power hungry to satisfy NASA’s need for deep space computing power. NASA’s idea is to build in triple redundant computers, with three microprocessors voting on their results to eliminate errors. Of course that makes for a power hungry PC, so they are still researching the problem.
- Oh yeah… Spock’s beard looks so cool, I need to throw up another picture of it. Live long and prosper.