The scientists next door

For Ada Lovelace Day, since it’s all about this idea that women are statistically likely to benefit from having female role models, I’m going to talk about a bunch of friends of mine.

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The graph of awesomeness

I don’t mean it’s a graph that is awesome, I mean that it measures awesomeness. Every new technology probably goes through this.


I: This idea is so cool! Let’s invent it and make the world better!

II: Oh crap, there are problems we didn’t anticipate. They didn’t show up until lots of people started using this thing.

III: But there are ways around the problems! People are discovering ways to fix them, and there are fewer problems being encountered as this goes on.

IV: Aah, smooth sailing. It’s not as perfect as the original idea, and there’s still room for improvement, but reality rarely meets the ideal anyways.

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The Antikythera Mechanism

While I try to formulate something to say about it, have a look at this thing.

The corroded remains of the Antikythera Mechanism were discovered in the early 20th century in an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. It’s an orrery — a device to simulate and predict the motions of the heavens — that dates back to about 150 BC. This video shows a modern working replica that shows how the device could have been used to predict the positions of the Sun and Moon (and eclipses, which happen when the Moon and Sun are oriented in particular ways with respect to each other), and of the five planets known to the ancient Greeks.