Here are some of the most interesting things I’ve learned on the Internet since 21 August.
- I remember being fascinated by power series in mathematics class at university. If you know everything about an infinitesimal segment of a function, then using power series you can make the entire function magically materialise, just like resurrecting a vampire from a speck of dust. Now Matt Springer of Built On Facts has recently linked to an old post of his about an unusual function where things aren’t that straightforward.
- Also in mathematical curiosities: using the Fibonacci sequence to convert between miles and kilometres (this one’s done the rounds of a few blogs).
- Not being interested in sport, I’ve often said that televised sport should be presented as a wildlife documentary. Here’s a science news article that could easily be referenced by such a program.
- Other recent animal stories from ABC News In Science have explained that dogs can learn the body language of cats and how glow worms know when to switch on.
- A Catalyst article on the human body clock (as opposed to, say, the glow worm one) contained a lot of interesting stuff.
- A little study of how people name colours.
- A neurological examination of how people respond to unfairness represents some of the methods used in modern brain science.
- A budding technology: holograms that respond realistically to light being shone on them. (The article doesn’t extrapolate on the description of the holograms as six-dimensional, but I suppose that means three dimensions of space and three of lighting.)
- New evidence concerning forests and carbon dioxide absorption.
- This one’s a little quirky: gender and the perception of movement.
In other Internet news, I’ve recently been trying to improve my computer’s grasp of Unicode, but with mixed success. Alan Wood’s unicode resources were useful, but unfortunately this only includes links to freely downloadable fonts for some ranges and not others. A more consistent source would be helpful.
Moreover regarding Unicode, I recently installed a Chinese font from this page which works perfectly in many programs, but I can’t get my browser to use it, and Andrew West’s BabelMap (which I also installed not long ago) tells me quite falsely that it contains zero characters. [Update: See comments. At the time of writing I was unaware that Unicode and the Universal Character Set are not synonymous.]
So you see, for every advance I make in making my computer more Unicode-equipped, I also encounter a new question. Given that Unicode was just coming in when I started at university, I find it astonishing that it is still so problematic to use.