February 25, 2008 — Peter Overmann, Director of Software Technology

In my ten years at Wolfram Research, I’ve never seen so much software development activity. In the middle of last year, we had our biggest launch in a decade: Mathematica 6. Now there’s a huge pipeline of new development underway.

Some people are working on Mathematica 7; some people on Mathematica 8. We’re developing major new frameworks and we’re adding boatloads of new functions. But we’re also continuing to polish and strengthen everything that’s already in Mathematica.

We brought out Mathematica 6.0.1 last summer to add a variety of improvements that didn’t make it into 6.0.0. And we’ve now accumulated enough improvements that we’ve decided to release 6.0.2—which is being sent to Premier Service customers as of today.

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February 21, 2008 — Onkar Singh, Manager of Technology Services

For years, I’ve been hearing about the NKS Summer School, and about how productive people find the three weeks of “immersion” there. For quite a while, people around Wolfram Research have been asking, “Why can’t we do something similar for Mathematica?”

Well, now we are. This year, we’re offering a two-week Advanced Mathematica Summer School.

Partly, it’s going to provide an opportunity for people to learn about all those parts of today’s Mathematica technology that they haven’t had a chance to work with yet. But the most important objective of the Summer School is to help people take their projects and implement them in incredible ways with Mathematica.

It’s going to be an intense experience. We’re expecting that during the two weeks of the Summer School, every attendee will be able to use the latest Mathematica technologies to create a final product of some kind—that they and their colleagues, students, or customers will be able to use for a long time to come.

We’re planning a mix of attendees, with varying profiles—senior technologists, researchers, programmers, educators, students, and perhaps others we don’t expect.

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February 20, 2008 — Jeffrey Bryant, Research Programmer, Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content

Every so often, more often than you might think, a lunar eclipse happens somewhere in the world. Tonight, there will be a total lunar eclipse visible from the United States and numerous other regions. This can only happen when there is a full moon, but not every full moon results in a lunar eclipse. If the moon is directly along a line drawn from the Sun to the Earth, then the Earth’s shadow falls across the face of the moon, typically giving it a reddish hue. If you aren’t afraid of a little bit of cold weather and weather permits, you might try to see the eclipse yourself.

You can study eclipse phenomena, both solar and lunar, in real-time using this Demonstration.

Demonstration: Solar and Lunar Eclipses

February 14, 2008 — Christopher Carlson, Senior User Interface Developer, User Interfaces

Search for “heart” on any image search engine and you’ll turn up a wide variety of forms from squat to tall, geometric to curvaceous, all recognizable as heart shapes. In order to explore those possibilities, I wanted to capture the essence of the heart shape in a Mathematica Demonstration that had the smallest possible number of controls, but would nevertheless let me recreate most any heart I ran across. I found that three circular arcs strung together and reflected about the vertical sufficed to capture the essence of “heartness”. The result is the Demonstration “Sweet Heart“.

Sweet Heart preview

The Demonstration is underconstrained, giving you the freedom to explore hearts as well as a large number of forms that are not even remotely heart-like. But that freedom is good. If there were interesting surprises lurking in those un-heart-like forms, I didn’t want to exclude them a priori. Indeed, while exploring near the boundaries where hearts dissolve into non-hearts, I stumbled onto two different ways of making hearts within hearts–from three simple arcs. I wouldn’t have thought it possible. That’s a nice Valentine’s Day surprise.

Sweet Heart thumbnails

Sweet Heart thumbnails

February 13, 2008 — Jeffrey Bryant, Research Programmer, Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content

As an editor for The Wolfram Demonstrations Project, I see many new submissions every day. The amount of variety is sometimes staggering. Occasionally, we have events that trigger Demonstrations based on a theme, and Valentine’s Day is one such event.

What in the world do Demonstrations have to do with Valentine’s Day?

Take a look at some of the new set of Demonstrations that are available for this February 14. They include a puzzle, a parametric surface, an algebraic surface, two parametric curves, and one that’s just plain fun. Its amazing to see how mathematics can be applied to everyday topics (and matters of the heart), not just to classroom math or science.

Broken Heart Tangram
Broken Heart Tangram
A Rose for Valentines Day
A Rose for Valentines Day
Equations for Valentines
Equations for Valentines
Sweet Heart
Sweet Heart
The Polar Equations
of Hearts and Flowers
The Polar Equations of Hearts and Flowers
Cupid’s Arrow
Cupid's Arrow

Stay tuned for a blog post from Chris Carlson with details about how he “lovingly” created his “Sweet Heart” Demonstration.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Demonstrations the next holidays might bring.

February 12, 2008 — Eric Weisstein, Senior Researcher, Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content

While MathWorld continues to be the most popular and most visited mathematics site on the internet, and while its mathematical content continues to steadily grow and expand, MathWorld readers will today notice more immediate visual changes.

Design changes and major new pieces of functionality are generally years in the making for large informational websites like MathWorld. The last time the site received a major infrastructure upgrade was in July of 2005 (see “MathWorld Introduces New Interactive Features for Teachers and Students,” MathWorld headline news, July 6, 2005).

On February 8, we introduced a major update of the MathWorld site featuring improved navigation, higher-quality typesetting, and links to interactive Demonstrations.

The new features introduced on MathWorld include:

  • New streamlined “platformed” look and feel
  • New interactive Demonstration collections and links
  • Improved mathematical typesetting
  • Collapsible navigation link trails
  • More-prominent ways to contribute to MathWorld

Each of these elements is described in more detail below.

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