Link Round-up

July 9, 2014

Here’s a mixed bag of interesting links, some sciencey, some mathsy, some miscellany:

  1. Network Rail Virtual Archives: OK, this might not, at first sight, sound like something interesting, but it really is. This site has original Victorian-era engineering drawings for a whole range of British railway infrastructure. Bridges, viaducts, stations, tunnels. All rendered in lovely 19th Century penmanship. The Forth Bridge is particularly nice.

  2. open.NASA: A couple of years ago, NASA started a project to open-source code and data from their Earth observing and planetary missions. Open.NASA is gateway to these resources. I’ve not had a chance to look at it in huge detail yet, but there is a lot of stuff there. The list of projects on the code.NASA part looks particularly entertaining.

  3. Game of Primes: Giganotosaurus is a science fiction site that publishes one (longish) short story each month. They’re often very good, and this one was particularly striking – it’s quite beautifully done, full of mystery, and feels like it could be a part of something much larger and deeper.

  4. Surprising connections in mathematics: This one is a bit more technical, from the Math Overflow Q&A website. A lot of the connections people mention are very technical, but some are more accessible, for instance the link between algebra and geometry developed by Descartes and others in the 17th Century. This is something we learn about in school, and something that we don’t think about too much because it seems “obvious”. Only obvious in retrospect, of course, since it took hundreds of years for the connection to be discovered!

  5. De Bruijn grids and tilings: Another technical one, but very interesting. Aperiodic tilings of the plane, like Penrose tilings, are slightly mysterious. This article gives a really clear description of one systematic method for generating such tilings. It’s a very odd and intriguing little bit of mathematics.

  6. Atul Gawande on end-of-life care: Atul Gawande is one of my favourite writers on medical and ethical issues. This article is quite long, but well worth a read.