Main / Wandering the Web
Wandering the Web
I wonder as I wander across the world-wide web.†
This blog highlights interesting, amusing, and useful sites I find that don’t really fit within any other category on awcfamily.com. So far, I’ve blogged these items:
FAQ for the Oxford English Dictionary folks
Answers to the most common questions sent in to the Oxford Word and Language Service team can be found at askoxford.com.
awc 2007-10-29 16:29:01
PLASMA PONG is a variation of PONG that utilizes real-time fluid dynamics to drive the game environment.
Players have several new abilities that add fun twists to the classic game. In the game you can inject plasma fluid into the environment, create a vacuum from your paddle, and blast shockwaves into the playing area. All these abilities have fluid-based kinetic effects on the ball, making Plasma Pong a fast-paced and exciting game.
A networked version of this game would be cool. With the current two player mode, the players must share the keyboard, which can be somewhat crowded and / or awkward. Also, for me the keyboard controls are not near as responsive as the mouse.
Along the same lines, the Plasma Pong website credits Road Blocks with “a loss of productivity in my life.” I can relate! This web-based puzzle game quickly becomes addictive (but it ended too soon and now I’m experiencing withdrawal).
awc 2007-07-17 12:52:19
NASA and ESA have a few space travelers wandering around the solar system at the moment. Here are some of them.
Most space travelers are stuck wandering around a Little Blue Ball in the solar system, and many of those are trying to learn more about this lone outpost of “intelligent” life in this little part of the Milky Way Galaxy (except for the space telescope, the remainder being dedicated to surveillance or communications --- e.g. radio, TV, telephone).
awc 2007-05-24 13:11:46
To quote the www.quickmath.com website:
QuickMath is an automated service for answering common math problems over the internet.
Think of it as an online calculator that solves equations and does all sorts of algebra and calculus problems --- instantly and automatically!
When you submit a question to QuickMath, it is processed by Mathematica®, the largest and most powerful computer algebra package available today. The answer is then sent back to you and displayed right there on your browser, usually within a couple of seconds.
Best of all, QuickMath is 100% free!
awc 2007-04-18 13:42:02
NIST Reference on Constants, Units, and Uncertainty
The Physics Laboratory of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology provides a detailed reference site beginning at physics.nist.gov/cuu/index.html which provides values and uncertainties of fundamental physical constants (such as the speed of light, the radius of an electron, or Avogadro’s number).
A full discussion of the SI (metric) system is also provided there, though if you just want to convert between metric and other systems of measurement (e.g. English), you can find all the conversion factors you could ever want in Section B.8 of the NIST publication 811, Guide for the Use of the International System of Units.
awc 2007-04-09 15:45:24
IndianaMap provides online access to aerial photography (orthophotography) and various other datasets for the state of Indiana. The data used (at least the closeup "satellite" view) in Google Earth and Google Maps for Indiana comes from here.
One can also download various pieces of the aerial photography database, down to 1 foot, even 6 inch in some areas, resolution. The 2005 Orthophotography dataset (the latest) is hosted on Indiana University's website:
awc 2007-01-24 12:46:57
IggyChaos and the Mailinator
Some interesting perspectives at iggychaos.blogspot.com by "IggyChaos", known in meatspace as Paul Tyma, an engineer at Google. Perhaps not suited for younger audiences and a bit crass or indelicate at times; but, quite thought provoking and often entertaining.
Having stumbled upon that blog, I then found out about the Maininator:
Mailinator™. It's like super-instant, always-ready, any-email-you-want email. Right now. It's your personal disposable email account. Here is how it works: You are on the web, at a party, or talking to your favorite insurance salesman. Wherever you are, someone (or some webpage) asks for your email. You know if you give it, you're gambling with your privacy. On the other hand, you do want at least one message from that person. The answer is to give them a mailinator address. You don't need to sign-up. You just make it up on the spot. Pick firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com --- pick anything you want.
Later, come to this site and check that account. Its that easy. Mailinator accounts are created when mail arrives for them. No signup, no personal information, and when you're done --- you can walk away --- an instant solution to one way spammers get your address. It's an anti-spam solution for everyone. Your temporary email account will be automatically deleted for you after a few hours.
awc 2007-01-17 12:37:27
The Wooden Periodic Table
A fascinating presentation of foundational information in physics and chemistry, the periodic table. Theodore Gray’s website, theodoregray.com/PeriodicTable, presents you with a top down look at a wooden conference table with a periodic table table top! The physical table exists in the author’s office and actually contains samples (where practical) of each element. The website provides in depth information and fascinating photographs of each element (including the author's specimens). Quoting the website:
This website documents, in great depth, a large collection of chemical elements and examples of their applications, common and uncommon. Click any element tile above and you will find probably more than you ever wanted to know about that element. All these samples (well, at least the ones that fit) are stored in a wooden periodic table, by which I mean a physical table you can actually sit at, in my office at Wolfram Research.
I decided to build this table by accident in early 2002, as a result of a misunderstanding while reading Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks. I won’t bore you with the details here… but once it was finished I felt obligated to start finding elements to go in it (because under the name of each element in my table there is a sample area).
Then I started building a website to document all my samples, and that’s when things really got out of hand. A few months later my little table won the 2002 Annals of Improbable Research Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry, clearly the highest honor for which it is eligible.
According to an article in the East Central Illinois News-Gazette online:
Gray's Periodic Table table has attracted a steady stream of viewers to his Web site about the project; landed him on National Public Radio; been the subject of discussion on the ultimate geek Web site, Slashdot; and drawn contributions of elements from around the country and from overseas.
awc 2006-09-11 22:59:43
Scientists and engineers simulate jet colliding with World Trade Center
From a Purdue University press release dated 2006-09-11:
Researchers at Purdue University have created a simulation that uses scientific principles to study in detail what likely happened when a commercial airliner crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001.
The project home page is at www.cs.purdue.edu/homes/cmh/simulation/phase3/, and contains animations of the half second it took for the Boeing 767 to strike and come to rest inside the North Tower.
awc 2006-09-27 16:38:49
Monitoring the U.S. Government
If there is anything which it is the duty of the whole people to never entrust to any hands but their own — that thing is the preservation of their own liberties and institutions.
They are monitoring you, so why not monitor them? Well, with GovTrack.us you can… at least that part of the Legislative Branch you sent to D.C.
You can sign up (for free) to monitor activity related to particular bill(s) and/or legislator(s) via email. I've just signed up because I want to keep track of HR5417 Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006. I've also signed up to monitor my legislators.
awc 2006-06-05 12:49