The Cross-Disciplinary Discussion Forum

Glass
zero mostel, creepy, sesame street, hot
chancellor_dave
I had a very random discussion with my friend Gayle. It seemed the sort of thing that might start a fun discussion here. It spawned from me showing Gayle some pieces of Murano art glass. Some of it seemed the kind of thing you'd find in the bedroom of someone with a clown fetish. Sorry, the post is kind of long.Collapse )

This conversation was really a blast though.

Optical Illusions: The Amazing Social Experiement
revere, cookware, revere ware
chancellor_dave
I found an optical illusion earlier today that I think may be the coolest I've ever seen. It's quite an upgrade from the old "stare at the dot on the page for 30 seconds and then look at the wall" kind. I basically understand how it works, but I wish I knew the finer details.

Image Behind CutCollapse )

Here's an additional link to a thread where it's being discussed:

Optical Illusion and Thread

Read the comments. They're what make it a social experiment as well. I particularly like #55. The Internet is indeed an interesting place sometimes!

Let's Do Everything Well!
knowledge, the more you know
chancellor_dave
I've spoken to several friends lately about the idea of creating software libraries that are closer to universal than the libraries presently available. I'm speaking of software libraries for modeling real phenomena. And I mean I would attempt to fit multiple software models of a specific concept into the same library so the platform they're running on can select the one most appropriate to the situation based on preset guidelines. My ultimate objective in this would be to create a massively universal simulation engine. But let's not get into that part right now and just assume that I think this idea is a good one.

I told one friend about the idea and, while he sounded interested, he said this:

"The theory goes that if you have a code that does a lot then it doesn't do anything particularly well. Whereas if you have a code that does something well it usually only does one thing."

I heard a variation on this concept years ago from my great uncle, who was a professor at Texas A&M back in the 1980s. He used to teach in his classes that a computer either does one thing (or a few things?) very well or does a lot of things very poorly. My uncle may not have acknowledged any distinction between the computer and the software at that point. He got a new computer roughly 8 years ago to replace his really old one and I remember that he was amazed at the number of things it could do.

I have to wonder who this idea originally came from though. I honestly couldn't say and I wish I knew. I've tried to figure it out, but I don't know the original quote they're paraphrasing. Someone, at some point, thought this should be a spoken law of computing. It sounded good to a lot of people, so it took hold in the programming community. Anyway, if someone knows and tells me who the source of the idea was, I'll update this to reflect that new information.

Anyway, what I'd like to discuss are these two questions:

1. How valid do you all think the idea is about computing, that a program can't do many things well?

2. Is it possible that "doing something well" isn't always the same as "doing something useful?"

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