Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Date Archive: 2011 July

Best of Blog

How I Made Wine Glasses from Sunflowers

Eons ago, plants worked out the secret of arranging equal-size seeds in an ever-expanding pattern around a central point so that regardless of the size of the arrangement, the seeds pack evenly. The sunflower is a well-known example of such a "spiral phyllotaxis" pattern: It's really magical that this works at all, since the spatial relationship of each seed to its neighbors is unique, changing constantly as the pattern expands outwardly—unlike, say, the cells in a honeycomb, which are all equivalent. I wondered if the same magic could be applied to surfaces that are not flat, like spheres, toruses, or wine glasses. It's an interesting question from an aesthetic point of view, but also a practical one: the answer has applications in space exploration and modern architecture.
Announcements & Events

Launching the Computable Document Format (CDF): Don’t Compress the Idea, Expand the Medium

Today we launched our Computable Document Format, or CDF, to bring documents to life with the power of computation. CDF binds together and refines lots of technologies and ideas from our last 20+ years into a single standard—knowledge apps, symbolic documents, automation layering, and democratized computation, to name a few. Disparate though these might appear, they come together in one coherent aim for CDF: connecting authors and readers much better than ever before. The idea is to provide a knowledge container that's as easy to author as documents, but with the interactivity of apps—for CDFs to make live interactivity as everyday a way to communicate as spreadsheets made charts.

Mathematica Q&A: Creating Movie Files

Got questions about Mathematica? The Wolfram Blog has answers! We'll regularly answer selected questions from users around the web. You can submit your question directly to the Q&A Team using this form. Here is this week's question: How can I create and export movies and animations in Mathematica? This is something we do often—just about every movie or animation on the Wolfram Blog is created in Mathematica.
Announcements & Events

Driving CUDA over the Grid

There are two great principles to Mathematica's parallel computing design. The first is that most of the messy plumbing that puts people off grid computing is automated (messaging, process coordination, resource sharing, fail-recovery, etc.). The second is that anything that can be done in Mathematica can be done in parallel. With this week's release of gridMathematica 8, which adds the 500+ new features of Mathematica 8 into the shared grid engine, one nice example brings together both ideas—and that is driving CUDA hardware, in parallel, over the grid.
Announcements & Events

Join Us for the 23rd Wolfram Technology Conference, Oct 19-21, 2011

“Every conference brings reunions with old friends and a chance to make new ones among the many attendees who use Mathematica in a wide variety of industries and application areas.” ---Sal Mangano, Author of Mathematica Cookbook If you are interested in the latest and future technologies that are shaping computation and algorithm-rich development… would like to keep current on how to most efficiently develop and deploy with Wolfram technologies… want to see how others are solving computation challenges across industries and fields… Then join us for the Wolfram Technology Conference 2011 from October 19 through 21 in Champaign, Illinois, USA. Just steps from Wolfram's headquarters, the conference will provide three days of pure productivity, featuring talks by Wolfram developers, users presenting real-world solutions, interactive workshops, developer kitchens, and the opportunity to exchange ideas with fellow Mathematica enthusiasts. This year’s conference schedule will feature even more interactive and hands-on sessions and will cover topics that include:
Computation & Analysis

Celebrating the Fourth of July with Mathematica Fireworks

What could be a better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than beautiful fireworks in the dark sky? And what could be a better way to create fireworks on your screen than using Mathematica? There are a few different ways to create firework "effects" on computers, but it would be a shame if we chose to use just graphical effects with Mathematica. Yes, we are going for the full-scale particle simulation. Here is the synopsis. We create a firework simulation. With a mouse click, we seed a number of particles on the screen. Each particle has a different initial velocity, and it will follow the projectile motion. The particles spend a limited time on the screen, in which their opacity will diminish gradually. There will be a few customizable effects—colors and trails.