Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ultra-Macro Photography Upgrade


Some people pay hundreds to be able to photograph tiny subjects such as snowflakes, but now you can do it for $5.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Problem with Technology

Glass cellphones... brilliant
About a month and a half ago, an Orbital Sciences rocket exploded during liftoff. Although nobody was injured from the explosion, hundreds of millions of dollars of supplies and equipment were destroyed in a matter of seconds. The fireball, which could be seen for miles, stunned observers; many hadn't even seen a lift-off before, much less an exploding one.

Only three days later, another space-related accident occurred: during a test flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, a premature wing rotation due to pilot error resulted in the destruction of the spacecraft, killing one of the two occupants and severely injuring the other.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Internet Pong Game

Here's a program I wrote earlier this year in July. It's a two-player pong game that involves communicating over the internet using Firebase. As I wrote this program, I also wrote a JavaScript library to take care of graphics and data communication over the internet. The library took the most work; the pong program just required some math and some creativity to help solve the problems I ran into... such as how the two computers would figure out who gets the top paddle and who gets the bottom paddle.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Partial Solar Eclipse


About a week ago, I was finally able to observe the second solar eclipse of my life – a partial eclipse with a maximum coverage of about 50%. The only other eclipse I have observed was another partial solar eclipse in May 2012.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Visualizing Time: An Essay

If time were stopped, would this falling pen look blurry to us?
Time can be a very confusing subject. It has a past, a present, and a future, but the future keeps changing and the present is always moving, while the past grows larger. Although most people think they understand time, they often get confused when they try to describe it. To help visualize and understand time, many people compare it to a very familiar concept: a line.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Feeding Hummingbirds


It's that time of the year when I get the most hummingbirds at my feeder. It's hot, and the fields are brown, but the little whirring birds make summer fun the whole season long.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

B17: The Killer Vitamin

What is a vitamin? I don't mean the different types of vitamins or the shops where they can be bought. I mean, what makes something a vitamin? Perhaps a vitamin is only a useless chemical that serves no purpose, and is therefore called a vitamin to make it seem useful when it really isn't. I prefer to think of a vitamin, however, as an essential chemical that our body needs to grow and survive.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Did You Know...

I recently added a "Did You Know" app to the sidebar of my blog. The app randomly picks a math/science/technology fact from a list, and displays it. I had to write the app myself (with JavaScript and HTML), because Blogger doesn't have an app like that built-in, and even if it did, I like to have control over my things.

To get technical: the data is stored on Firebase. The app reads the data from Firebase, and adds it all to an array. There is no way to tell how many items there are without reading all of them from Firebase. The app then looks at how many elements are in the array (call that number a) and then randomly chooses a number b from 1 to a. It then takes the bth element from the array, and displays it. (I know, I didn't have to store them all in an array, but it's easier that way.)

Because of the data storage method, I can add new facts very easily: I just have to go to Firebase and add the new fact to the database. Of course, my app updates as soon as I add the new data. I can also set up the app to read data from a different Firebase location, so I can easily have multiple apps with different themes. Here's a screenshot of a Minecraft-themed app, for example:


If anybody is interested in putting a version of the app on their blog, let me know! I'd be happy to set up a version of my app with another theme, such as astronomy, animals, or sports. I can also change the style to make the font pink or green, or give it a purple background, before I send you the code. The possibilities are endless.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fourier Series Grapher

Here's a simple JavaScript + HTML program I wrote. It will graph a given number of terms of a Fourier series. To graph a Fourier series, type the appropriate expressions into the text fields and click "Update." The text fields support JavaScript, so you can write a whole function in there if you need to.

I also added some functions.
  1. even(x) - returns true if x is even, false otherwise.
  2. odd(x) - returns true if x is odd, false otherwise.
  3. power(x, a) - returns xa.
Some examples of input to try:
  • odd(k)?(2/k):0
  • even(k)?(4/k/PI):0
  • odd(k)?(4/(k+PI)/k):0
The default Fourier series is equal to sin(2.5x) on (-π, π).

Enjoy!




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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Euler Spiral

I was reading a calculus textbook when I noticed it said that cos(x2) doesn't have an elementary antiderivative. Elementary antiderivative? Clearly, they were hiding something. They didn't say it didn't have an antiderivative; they said it didn't have an elementary antiderivative. Of course, I wanted to know what the antiderivative was. If it wasn't elementary, it had to be really awesome.

I looked up the integral of sin(x2). Turns out, the integral cannot be expressed as anything other than itself. It's known as the Fresnel S integral, is written as S(x), and is defined as the integral of sin(x2). There's another Fresnel integral known as the Fresnel C integral which is written as C(x) and defined as the integral of cos(x2).

I also saw some graphs of the integrals. One really cool graph involved the parametric equations x = C(t) and y = S(t), and was called the "Euler spiral." It had a cool spirally shape, and I immediately knew that I had to graph it myself. I ended up writing an interactive JavaScript program to graph the parametric equations. Here it is; enjoy!

x = C(t)
y = S(t)

Max t:
t step size: * .001

Zoom X: %
Zoom Y: %


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Friday, March 14, 2014

5 Common Pi Myths


Happy π-day! And happy π-month! Today's month and day - that is, March 14 or 3.14 - includes the first 3 digits of π. And today's month and year - March 2014 or 3.14 - also includes the first 3 digits of π. We won't have another double-day for π for the next 100 years, so enjoy this one!

For the special occasion, I'm posting two π-related posts, one for π-month and the other for π-day. In both posts, I'm setting the font size to 16.1527897 pixels, which is approximately π * π + π + π. This is the second post, for π-day; for the first, go to http://greatmst.blogspot.com/2014/03/pi-month-pi-day-post-1.html.

In this post, I will list 5 common myths about π, and explain why they're wrong.

Should Tau Replace Pi?


The digits of π, organized in a very new way

Happy π-day! And happy π-month! Today's month and day - that is, March 14 or 3.14 - includes the first 3 digits of π. And today's month and year - March 2014 or 3.14 - also includes the first 3 digits of π. We won't have another double-day for π for the next 100 years, so enjoy this one!

For the special occasion, I'm posting two π-related posts - one for π-month, and the other for π-day. In both posts, I'm setting the font size to approximately π * π + π + π. This is the first post, for π-month; to see the second, go to http://greatmst.blogspot.com/2014/03/pi-month-pi-day-post-2-5-common-pi-myths.html.

In this post, I am including an essay I wrote about whether π or τ is the more superior constant. This was written for people who know very little about math, so the basic idea should be easy to understand even for people who are not mathematically inclined.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

2013 in Photos

I know it's already February, but I wanted to post some of my favorite photos I took last year. This post will include those photos, along with some commentary under each one. None of the photos have been posted in previous posts, so you won't have to see any repeats. I took all of the photos in this post using the same camera.