Last Friday, Benoit Mandelbrot died, which was widely published around on the Internet. Generally adored by nerds, Mandelbrot, while respected, was a fairly controversial figure in the mathematics world.
Mandelbrot doesn’t spend months or years proving what he has observed,” for which he “has received quite a bit of criticism. … But if we talk about impact inside mathematics, and applications in the sciences, he is one of the most important figures of the last 50 years.
I dare to say that Mandelbrots formulas took off with the introduction of the 8-bit colour homecomputers (earlier on xsamplex in 2004) and all these fractal generating programs. On our MSX2, I think it took at least a week to generate a simple Mandelbroth (320 x 250 with 256 colours). Even with earlier versions of Fractint on 286 AT machines, it would take days: today’s processing power does this in less than a second.
Whenever I think of Benoit Mandelbrot, I think about how fast computers have progressed in those years.
Some stuff I ran into earlier.
I read that Windows 7 (Microsoft much-touted successor of Windows Vista) is positioned as the ‘Linux Killer’ (original article at Computer World). From that article:
The threat to Windows comes entirely from “netbooks” — lightweight, inexpensive laptops that typically use Intel’s low-powered Atom processor and don’t come with substantial amounts of RAM or powerful graphics processors
The last time I checked, was that Linux’s was actually taking out more bytes (ha-ha) out of the Windows Server market, which is basically because the open-source operating system is so easy to install on older hardware and that. Well, that is if you use Debian, of course.
A NASA team announced the discovery of cosmic radio noise six times louder than normal. Apparently, this noise happened in 2006 and after plenty of peer reviews, it appears that this (yet unknown) noise was not related to anything that humans do on earth. However, the researchers are still not sure what created this noise.
You thought we suffered economic hardship? In Zimbabwe, the government just introduced a $50 billion note, which (apparently) just buys you a loaf of bread in that same country. I am curious who’s portrait is prominently showing on that note, but on preview, I don’t think too many politicians (except for the dictator kind of types) would want to have his (or her’s) face on a bill that’s probably only usable for wiping one’s nose.
And the best is for the last: If you’re into fractals (sure you do), here’s an open-source Fractal Flame Editor (Windows only: for other OSes look here). Surprisingly, it’s written in Delphi 5.
Via (the always excellent) 3 Quarks, a new theory how the Great Pyramid was built. The original site that hosts a video and 3D animation (from Dassault Systems) requires an extra plugin (3D Life player), which also works on Firefox (Windows). If you’re not into plug-ins, you can also download the PDF.
2K Games announced a new Civ IV extension pack (previously on xsamplex), which includes:
New Civilizations: The expansion pack includes ten new civilizations, such as Portugal, Babylon and Netherlands and their associated unique units and buildings.
Via Digg, I found this video of an interesting way of using your fingers as a mouse with the help of a camera (4:45 minutes long). The interviewer is a douche bag, yes: if you listen carefully what the programmer is trying to explain, much of it will make sense. Not revolutionary, but yes, an interesting approach to tackle this specific problem.
If you were ever into fractals (and I suppose, every programmer or nerd would have been), there’s this amazing movie of a quite deep zoom into a Mandelbrot. It keeps going and going, so to say. The first time I saw a fractal to be drawn (on an MSX-2), it took a full day to finish it. With a cluster of PS3s…