Interesting stuff #3

Here are some of the most interesting things I’ve learned on the Internet since 21 August. My provisional nominations for the next installment of this series can be previewed here.

  1. 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.
  2. Also in mathematical curiosities: using the Fibonacci sequence to convert between miles and kilometres (this one’s done the rounds of a few blogs).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A Catalyst article on the human body clock (as opposed to, say, the glow worm one) contained a lot of interesting stuff.
  6. A little study of how people name colours.
  7. A neurological examination of how people respond to unfairness represents some of the methods used in modern brain science.
  8. 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.)
  9. New evidence concerning forests and carbon dioxide absorption.
  10. 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.

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4 Responses to “Interesting stuff #3”

  1. Andrew West Says:

    BabelMap is a Unicode character map application, and so only works correctly with Unicode fonts. I’ve just downloaded one of these fonts, and can confirm that they do not have a Unicode CMAP table (only a PRC encoded CMAP table which I do not currently support), and so BabelMap correctly reports that the font has zero Unicode characters. On modern operating systems (e.g. Vista) most Unicode scripts work just fine out of the box, but to avoid disappointing experiences with Unicode you obviously have to ensure that you are actually using Unicode fonts. I suggest visiting Alan Wood’s Unicode Resources.

  2. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Thanks for the help; the technicalities of fonts can be most confusing.

    Last time I looked at Alan Wood’s resources (bear in mind the above post is several months old), I couldn’t find a font that included the following characters, all of which were present in the text I was trying to view at the time.

    7ECF (经)
    65F6 (时)
    95F4 (间)
    89C1 (见)

    (I have no idea what these characters represent, BTW.)

    P.S. I liked your recent blog post about Go boards; it’s on my list of articles to link to later this month.

  3. Andrew West Says:

    These are all basic simplified characters which should be in every simplified Chinese font. Most operating systems will supply at least one font that covers these characters, but if you want a free font that covers all CJK characters in Unicode (70,000+), except for very recent additions, then I can recommend the Han Nom font set (make sure you download the high resolution set).

    As to Go boards, I was surprised how popular this post has been — but the real wow factor will come when I post on the even more ancient game of Liubo, for which I have some really amazing pictures.

  4. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Thanks. I installed that successfully.

    The topic of games and their history is an interesting one.


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