Posts Tagged Humor

Engineering Connections in an Invisible World – a Crash Course

For several years I’ve been a big fan of  Top Gear – the guys have been entertaining my inner child. Seen rationally, the petrol-based internal combustion engine is a dead end,  but getting from A to B is hardly the point, or is it? I like the irreverent, playful and fun approach to how things actually work – by taking them apart, blowing them up or whatever else seems suitable – they have an immense imagination in that department. You know, what distinguishes the men from the boys is the size of their toys. In this regard, the top gear presenters are the real grown-ups, thinking big and out of the box. Some of their projects on science and engineering are among my all-time favourites, so I am happy to see Richard “Hamster” Hammond back on the screen again.

First, there’s the recently launched “Crash Course” :  

And then I have to mention his series “Engineering Connections” on the National Geographic Channel where Hammond

looks at how engineers and designers use historic inventions and clues from the natural world in ingenious ways to develop new buildings and machines.

And if you still can take some more, there is some really stunning footage in the “Invisible worlds” –  series (2010). Definitely something to go into my DVD collection, here’s a teaser:

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Play more …


The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Learning Technologies Program (pre-)launched the Science Game Centerto demonstrate to teachers, scientists, museums, and parents the myriad ways games can be used to improve education in math and science“. Next to Phylo and Fold.it (which I mentioned around here before) are several entries listed I haven’t seen yet. It may be due to the movie “Fantastic Voyage” that made a lasting impression on me as a kid that “Immune attack” immediately caught my attention. After all, I’d rather kick some pathogenic butt than blowing up poor aliens in space. Good hunting!

P.S.: Reminds me of this quote by 137th Gebirg on battlestarforum.com

“I may appear unoccupied to you, but at the molecular level, I’m really quite busy.”

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Happy StarWars Day!

For fairly obvious reasons, today is StarWars Day. (Much to learn you still have, my young apprentice!) So polish that lightsaber and fearlessly face the Dark Side of the Fourth – you know “Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.”

A separate initiative for observing Geek Pride Day on May 25, is based on the Star Wars connection along with ties to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Discworld.

(video (re-)found via SchockWellenReiter, pic via g+)

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deBugging Code


Just recently, I found this REAL bug sitting on the edge of my screen while coding – the (admittedly quite nerdy) irony of it is hard to miss. Rest assured, I ‘guided’ it away from ‘the system’ to the outside as gently as possible, resisting any impulse to to squash it using the keyboard on the spot. You know the rule, “Never touch a running system”, and unfortunately double-clicking and pressing <DEL> didn’t seem to work here.

A more funny (and nerdy) take on debugging code is this video by Atlassian called “Software Bugs” that made my morning:

“All bugs welcome! … create some buzz, … and when the spider gets here, I guess we can start talking web development”

Some more in-depth understanding of the issues involved is provided in this talk by Prof. Stephen Freund on “Stopping the Software Bug Epidemic” – he also touches on the halting problem, memory leaks and parallel code execution.

Although the talk is very informative throughout while presenting the basic issues in an entertaining way, I wonder why he didn’t mention the “Dining Philosophers Problem” – I guess it’s hard to trace deadlocks by automated checkers? In addition, he only refers to the (ancient) waterfall-modell of software engineering. Some comments on how more modern development philosophies (eXtreme programming, agile etc.) fit into the picture would have been nice. Anway, Happy deBugging!

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HapPi π-day!


March the 14th (3/14) is Pi Day – a holiday commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi).

There are a number of matching accessories for geeks and nerds around, for example on the official Pi-Day page or in this collection on mashable.com.

It’s also happens to be Albert Einstein‘s birthday. Plenty of reasons to celebrate – for example by watching the video below and eating some (round) pies. Have fun!

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The Tail of the Elephant

There is this old story of the 3 wise blind guys who come to examine an elephant. They are lead up to it, and one of them gets to grab the ear, another the holds on to a tusk, and the third gets hold of the tail.
Later, they come to completely different opinions about the nature of the object under study – is it flat and flappy, thin and wriggly, or hard and pointy? And, obviously, later they spend a looong time arguing and beating each other up about their theories on what it really is like.

George Cham, creator of Ph.D. comics, refers to this in this beautiful animation on how current science might redefine our understanding of the universe – Enjoy!


Read the rest of this entry »

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YearEnd Music Video

As the year draws to an end and me sitting jetlagged in Seoul, my circadian rhythm is totaly out of sync. So you might agree that Insomnia is matching the mood of the day. To get me going, here comes the Popolski family (claiming that their granddad Piotr invented all of pop) with the hardest, hottest and famousest piece of “polka” ever

… or “the song of when grandpa could not find no sleep at all” performed together with David Garrett: Read the rest of this entry »

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