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Monday, May 06, 2013

Dancing Atoms

IBM Research produced a video of atoms dancing titled A Boy and His Atom: The World's Smallest Movie. It's an incredible movie where the atom is an individual atom and the boy is a small collection of atoms grouped to resemble a boy. The movie was made with an electron microscope and you can see how IBM made the movie here.

It was not so long ago, about 100-years actually, when atoms were mere postulates on what comprised matter. Einstein thought about them and from that we had the experiment of pollen dancing in water as the water molecules hit the grains of pollen. It was the first indirect proof of molecules and atoms. Now, we can see a movie with individual atoms as the actors of the movie.

This is truly amazing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On Line Courses: Some Statistics

Not long ago, I took the on-line course titled "Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation" given by Mr. Umesh Vazirani. The course is offered by Coursera which hosts a large selection of courses. The course site and the way the courses run is worthy of a separate posting. For now, let me share some statistics that Mr. Vazirani sent students at the end of the class.

Some of you have asked about course statistics, which we are glad to share with you:

  • # of people signed up for the course: 26K
  • # of people that watched the first lecture: 12K
  • # of people who turned in the first assignment: 6K
  • # of people who turned in the fourth assignment (midpoint): 3K
  • # of people who took the final: 2104
  • # of certificates: 1523
  • # of certificates with distinction: 373
So, you can see that about 26,000 people signed up for the class; I was one of them. Yet the attrition was tremendous. Half the people who signed up even watched the first lecture. Then half of that turned in the first assignments, and the numbers keep dropping.

The original numbers are, I think, misleading. The fact is that over 1500 people completed the class and almost 400 did so with distinction. That means that this free course, in a subject that is not for everybody, reached over 1500 people who benefited from Mr.Vazirani's lectures and efforts.

That's remarkable.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Northerm Lights

Here's a beautiful black and white picture of the Northern Lights from Outside magazine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Robotic hand from Sandia Labs

Here's a robotic hand from Sandia National Labs that can hold a hammer, screw driver, fruit, and assortment of other items. The hand can manipulate the item and even put a battery in a flashlight.

Friday, August 10, 2012

On-line courses: Join the Million

Coursera, the company that provides support and Web hosting for massive open online courses at top universities, announced Thursday that more than 1 million students have registered for its courses. The company now serves as a MOOC platform for 16 universities and lists 116 courses, most of which have not started yet.
I took a course from Coursera in Cryptography and it was quite good. I am taking two now; one in quantum computing and one in finance. The courses do take time to watch the videos, do the homework, and simply keep up. Still, they're free, interesting, and if you have the time, worth the effort.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Do you need math?

Here's a discussion on the practicality of algebra.