Becoming better gamers/learners

One of my favorite games on my iPad is Fairway Solitaire, by BigFish Games. It's a well written, solid game, so I subscribe to the company's blog, to keep an eye on updates, and see what's new, hoping that they will create another game that I'll be interested in.
Screen shot of  bigfishgames.com

The other day they posted "Can Chess make you a better gamer?" which caught my attention.
"Games are like music, movies, and books. Most games enjoy a brief time in the world, and then quickly disappear for others to take their place. However, one game which has truly stood the test of time is chess. Few games have been around as long, and even fewer have been as popular."

The post lists 4 ways that playing chess improves your game playing skills in general, (and I would say, your learning/inquiry skills, too).
1. Chess teaches Patience!
2. Chess teaches you how to be observant
3. Chess teaches finding a method to the madness.
4. Chess teaches planning ahead

The author,  Jacob St. Martin, describes each point very well - I urge you to click through and read the post.

ISOCS offers a Chess Club on Wednesday afternoon - sign up, so that you can improve your gaming and learning skills!


Published on Jul 26, 2012 by TEDtalksDirector
http://www.ted.com "Ramesh Raskar presents femto-photography, a new type of imaging so fast it visualizes the world one trillion frames per second, so detailed it shows light itself in motion. This technology may someday be used to build cameras that can look "around" corners or see inside the body without X-rays."

Ramesh Raskar is Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and Co-Director, Center for Future Storytelling at MIT.

Did you see the moment in the video where "Femto" is explained? 
"Femto- (symbol f) is a prefix in the metric system denoting a factor of 10−15 or 0.000000000000001. Adopted by the 11th Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures,[1] it was added in 1964 to the SI.[2] It is derived from the Danish word femten, meaning "fifteen"." (Wikipedia)  

Most of us at ISOCS can count up through this chart past kilo and giga, to tera (because of computer storage now being in terabytes, and back at least to deci, centi, and probably milli, because that's how drinks are sold, in fractions of liters.  Now it's time to learn some new prefixes.

Screen shot of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femto-
click on the image to see it full size

More about "NeverSeconds" school lunch blog

In June I wrote about a blog called NeverSeconds, by A British schoolgirl, Martha Payne. BBC 4's Food Program Podcast of July 16 (2012) visited Martha and her family.  Listen to the podcast, and hear how Martha (AKA 'VEG'), a nine year, explain how she unwittingly triggered a wordwide debate on school food.

When you visit NeverSeconds right now, you'll find blog posts by host of guest bloggers, rather than Martha (VEG).  Scroll back through the posts, and  look at the pictures of meals. Also click the link to look at  Mary's Meals, the charity which NeverSeconds supports.  "Mary’s Meals provides daily meals to chronically hungry children in a place of learning. In this way the hungry child is attracted to the classroom where they can gain a better future for themselves and their community".

Patterns of Prime

This morning Information Aesthetics pointed me to the Patterns of Prime, by Jason Davies (whose own page has some more interesting and beautiful work).

On the Patterns of Prime,
"For each natural number n, we draw a periodic curve starting from the origin, intersecting the x-axis at n and its multiples. The prime numbers are those that have been intersected by only two curves: the prime number itself and one.
Below the currently highlighted number, we also show its sum of divisors σ(n), and its aliquot sum s(n) = σ(n) - n, which indicate whether the number is primedeficientperfect or abundant.
Based on Sobre el patrón de los números primos by Omar E. Pol."

The pattern of 1 on  http://www.jasondavies.com/primos/

The pattern of 24 on  http://www.jasondavies.com/primos/

Move your mouse up and down the number line to explore the patterns.

An infographic is...

A good infographic is simple, and requires little text. This is one of the best infographics I've seen explaining infographics.   I've found this one  recently on several websites:  visual.ly, Mashable, InfographicsOnly, InfographicsArchive, NPRThe original source is http://hotbutterstudio.com, but I can't find it on their website.


This video from Periodic  videos arrived in my inbox this afteroon:

Published on Jul 17, 2012 by 
In our first video about caffeine, Dr Rob Stockman extracts the molecule from six cups of coffee. Video also features Professor Martyn Poliakoff and Dr Samantha Tang. 
From the School of Chemistry at The University of Nottingham:http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/chemistry/index.aspx

At the end of the video we learn that 17 milligrams of caffeine were in a filter drip cup of coffee....of course, I was curious about how much caffeine there is in other food and drink, for example -  a bottle of Coca-Cola, and chocolate. A little searching on Google revealed: 

"There is 96mg of caffeine in one litre of Coke Zero or Coca‑Cola and 128mg in a litre of Diet Coke. This equates to about 32mg in a 330ml can of Coca‑Cola and 42mg in a 330ml can of Diet Coke. To help put this in context, a mug of tea contains about 75mg of caffeine and a mug of coffee provides about 100mg of caffeine." (link)

Searching on, I came to this chart of Caffeine Content in Drinks, where you can sort by USA, UK/Europe, and Australia/NZ.  Explore this site a bit, and you'll find interesting graphs, charts, links, and comparisons. 
"The most comprehensive chart of beverage caffeine content online. Find the amount of caffeine in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and energy shots.
Note that caffeine amounts are for the whole can/bottle."
It's hard to find out if cafeine content of various drinks is the same in the US as it is elsewhere, because the US content is listed in fluid ounces, and the rest of the world is in ml.  (1 US liquid ounce = 29.5735296875 ml)

WikiAnswers tells us that a 32 oz can of Coca-Cola Clasic contains 34 mg, "For comparison, green tea has about 25 mg per 12 oz, black about 50, and coffee can have upwards of 200 mg."   From the Australian Food Standards site we learnt that milk chocolate has 20 mg/100g bar, but the Lindt website says
"Caffeine is a natural compound derived from plant sources like kola nut and naturally found in substances like coffee and tea. However, very little caffeine is found in chocolate in comparison to the amount found in the other commonly consumed sources. Generally, 1oz of Dark Chocolate contains about 20 mg of caffeine 1 oz of Milk Chocolate contains about 6 mg of caffeine 1 oz of White Chocolate contains less than 2 mg of caffeine By comparison, an average can of soda contains about 50 mg of caffeine and the average cup of coffee approximately 80 ? 155 mg. The caffeine content will always vary, depending on the product and even in some cases depending on the specific cocoa bean and origin. "

So put on your math hats, and figure this out!
1 oz = 28.3495 gr
100 gr = 3.52739619496 oz
Fluid ounces are different from dry ounces...
Here are the various content descriptions:
32 mg in a 330ml can of Coca‑Cola
17 mg (milligrams) of caffeine were in a filter drip cup of coffee
100 mg in a mug of coffee
25 mg per 12 oz green tea
50 mg per 12 oz black tea
200 mg per 12 oz coffee
20 mg of caffeine in 1oz of Dark Chocolate 
6 mg of caffeine in 1 oz of Milk Chocolate
20 mg per 100g bar of milk chocolate

Are they all saying the same thing?


EuroLapse from David Kosmos Smith on Vimeo.

30,000 pictures, taken over 3 months, seen in 5 minutes.  Click through to the Vimeo page to find out where the pictures were taken, and how David Kosmos Smith turned them into this video.

I especially liked watching the boats moving.  We're used to seeing clouds scoot across the sky, and trees twitching in the wind in a time-lapse photo, but some of the scenes of traffic pulsing like  blood through veins in a science video, boats rocking on the sea, and ant hills of people in this video are captivating.

While you're on  David Kosmos Smith's Vimeo page, watch another of his videos, Georgia Aquarium.  Stunning!

What's your password?

There's a very interesting story by Rebecca Greenfield, about passwords in the Atlantic Wire,  
"General Internet thinking says the best way to ensure online safety is to pick different "strong passwords" for all your Internet selves and then change them often. That, as this XKCD comic illustrates, is exhausting and often counterproductive."
Click through and read the whole story.  It will save you time, aggravation, and a lot of clicks on the  "forgot my password" button.

Higgs Boson as sound

Following on from the Higgs Boson news, a friend sent me this link.  The Higgs Boson data has been transcribed as music.

The original post on Discovery News describes the music this way:
"'As soon as the announcement (of the discovery) was made, we begun working on the sonification of the experimental data,' Domenico Vicinanza, product manager at Dante (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe), Cambridge, UK, told Discovery News...'Sonification worked by attaching a musical note to each data. So, when you hear the resulting melody you really are hearing the data,' Vicinanza said."

Be sure to click over to the Discovery page, and read the whole article.

The Underwater Internet

Click to enlarge
What is this?  A map of popular airline flights? Bird migration?  Solo yacht races?
It's a map of internet cables under the ocean.  Nicolas Rapp explains it like this in a blog post:

"If the internet is a global phenomenon, it’s because there are fiber-optic cables underneath the ocean. Light goes in on one shore and comes out the other, making these tubes the fundamental conduit of information throughout the global village. To make the light travel enormous distances, thousands of volts of electricity are sent through the cable’s copper sleeve to power repeaters, each the size and roughly the shape of a 600-pound bluefin tuna.Once a cable reaches a coast, it enters a building known as a “landing station” that receives and transmits the flashes of light sent across the water. The fiber-optic lines then connect to key hubs, known as “Internet exchange points,” which, for the most part, follow geography and population."

Click through and read the rest of his blog post to find out what happens when the cables reach a coast line.

Thanks to Flowing Data for the link.

Quizz for ISOCS students:  What map projection is shown here? Click here for the answer.

Read more about undersea Internet cables at this page.

Big G Black Bar Sorter

This morning I was listening to a State of Tech Podcast (Episode 18), and learned about a Chrome Extension, the Big G Black Bar Sorter, a "quick extension to allow users to customize the order of the options in the new redesigned Google black bar. Just drag and drop items." After you install the extension, restart Chrome, log into your Google account, and arrange the black shortcut bar the way you'd like to have it by dragging and dropping the names of different Google products into the order that suits you.  You can pull links out of the "More" drop down menu and add them to the black bar.

This extension doesn't work on Google Apps for Education accounts.

I wanted to find out more about the "Harry" who wrote the extension - he has a Google+ page (of course) and a very interesting web page.  Go to http://harryledley.com/, drag your mouse around the screen, and click occasionally  Drag while holding your mouse down, and move over to the borders of the screen occasionally. I would like to try this on an interactive white board...

Screen shot of http://harryledley.com/

What is the Higgs Boson?

News: Higgs Boson-like particle discovery claimed at LHC - BBC News
What is the Higgs Boson?
The Higgs Boson Explained from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Published on Jul 4, 2012 by 
http://www.facebook.com/ScienceReason ... John Ellis, theoretical physicist: What is the Higgs Boson? Has it been discovered yet? CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson.
Click through to the YouTube page to read an interesting commentary.

Published on Jul 4, 2012 by 
"They got sentimental when thinking of Higgs" - Physicists give their thoughts on the Higgs Boson: including Nobel Prize winners Gerhard 't Hooft, David Gross, George Charpak, Jerome Friedman, Murray Gell-Mann plus Vivek Sharma, Guido Tonelli and Gigi Rolandi (CMS), Eilam Gross and Joao Guimaraes da Costa (ATLAS) and theoretical physicists Guido Altarelli and John Ellis.

Published on Jul 4, 2012 by 
Note: accidentally switched Charm and Strange.

Published on Jul 3, 2012 by 
Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva have been looking for a mysterious particle called the Higgs Boson. Scientific American editor George Musser explains why the Higgs is so important to science and to our very existence.

Slit-Scan Photography

This post on PetaPixel led me to this video on YouTube

Slit-Scan Movie Maker is a Mac App, which I can't use on my aging computer, but I was curious about "spit-scan", a term I'd never met....so I did a little research.

I'm always interested in how we see the un-seeable, so I downloaded the Slit-Scan Camera app in the iTunes store (free, with optional upgrade, which gives a larger resolution and a few more options)

There are several more videos and tutorials on the app's web site:

The creator has a set on Flickr of their photos taken with the app, and a Group where you can contribute your own photos.

So what's happening?  How does this work?  When you look up "slit-scan photography" on Wikipedia, it's explained this way:

"The slit-scan photography technique is a photographic and cinematographic process where a moveable slide, into which a slit has been cut, is inserted between the camera and the subject to be photographed."

A better explanation is on the Forte Design blog:

"Slit scan photography utilizes a "slow slit shutter" to emulate a scan. A small slit is made in a mask that slides directly in front of the camera. This slit moves slowly across the camera's lens during a long exposure. Because only a certain part of the picture is being exposed at one time, moving subjects will appear very distorted."

I found one, beta release app for Android, Andlisca, which has only 3 reviews on Google Play, none of them overly enthusiastic.

I can imagine lots of possibilities for this app in education - surrealism, portraits, "all about me", etc.

"Face" By andeecollard on Flickr 

Robins: 4 Eggs, 4 Weeks

This is for the ISOCS classes who will be investigating life cycles next year, and for the Middle Primary class last year, who were investigating survival:

Robins: 4 Eggs, 4 Weeks from Fred Margulies on Vimeo.

"A robin built a nest in a hanging basket on our porch and laid 4 eggs. That kept mom and dad busy for the next four weeks. Here's what happened."

You can read about the American Robin at Wikipedia: The Robin "normally has two to three broods per breeding season, which lasts from April to July."

"A clutch consists of three to five light blue eggs, and is incubated by the female alone. The eggs hatch after 14 days, and the chicks leave the nest a further two weeks later. The altricial chicks are naked and have their eyes closed for the first few days after hatching. While the chicks are still young, the mother broods them continuously. When they are older, the mother will brood them only at night or during bad weather.
The chicks are fed worms, insects, and berries. Waste accumulation does not occur in the nest because adults collect and take it away. Chicks are fed, and then raise tails for elimination of waste, a solid white clump that is collected by a parent prior to flying off. All chicks in the brood leave the nest within two days of each other. Even after leaving the nest, the juveniles will follow their parents around and beg food from them. Juveniles become capable of sustained flight two weeks after fledging."  (link)
Not a time lapse in the usual sense, this video gives us a wonderful, easy to understand grasp of birds from egg to adulthood.  You wonder how the adults manage to feed the ever increasing size of each brood, and also feed themselves...and they do this 2 or 3 times a year! What it takes for a species to ensure survival!

How was the camera attached to capture the view into the nest?  How was it activated to film when the adult arrived with a juicy worm?  How much footage was edited out? Would the video be more interesting without the music, and only the natural sounds?

Solving Impossible Problems

Last week I read a blog post by John Tedesco, an Investigative Reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, sharing search tips he had learned at the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference from Daniel Russell, a Google Scientist.

This led me Dr. Russell's own blog,  SearchReSearch ("A blog about search, search skills, teaching search, learning how to search, learning how to use Google effectively, learning how to do research. It also covers a good deal of sensemaking and information foraging."), where I discovered a "Power searching with Google" free online class. In six 50 minute classes, "Our course is aimed at teaching you to find what you need faster, no matter how you currently use search. Do you know how to search for and read pages written in languages you’ve never even studied? Identify the location of a picture your friend took during his vacation a few months ago? How about finally identifying that green-covered book about gardening that you’ve been trying to track down for years? "

The course starts 10 July 2012 - you  can register at this link

Back to the article I read first: It begins with this picture, and the challenge is to use Google Search to find the phone number of the office from which the picture was taken.

The answer is here.

Well, that did it!  I registered for the course.  Will you join me?