Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Date Archive: 2014 May

Design & Visualization

SlideOScope and Wolfram Language Magically Transform Your Photos and Art

Donald Barnhart is a self-proclaimed mad optical scientist and independent business owner. He’s been developing optical design and analysis software in Mathematica since 1991, he’s the creator of the popular Optica software package, and he’s the developer of the first successful high-resolution holographic instrument that measures three-dimensional velocity fields in fluids. Now Barnhart has another invention to add to his list of accomplishments: a totally new kind of photo album called the SlideOScope.

Rich Interactivity of New ebook, Incredible Numbers, Created with the Wolfram Language

Touch Press recently announced its newest title, Incredible Numbers, by Ian Stewart. The rich interactive explorations in the ebook were prototyped in the Wolfram Language by Phil Ramsden, who is a Teaching Fellow at Imperial College London and a Mathematica trainer. We asked him to relate his experience here. Ian Stewart's mathematical imagination is boundless. There are few areas of the subject that haven't been illuminated, for a general readership, by his gift for clear and vivid exposition. So when Ian, Touch Press, and Profile Books decided to create something interactive, they needed a development and prototyping environment in which you can do pretty much anything; a mere specialist application wasn’t going to cut it. That's where the Wolfram Language came in and, happily for me, where I did too. The Wolfram Language provides an environment in which you can do pretty much anything, and do it quickly. The reason that the Wolfram Language is such a “game-changer” is that where interactive content is concerned, it takes us into a world where an idea (such as one of Ian’s) can become a working prototype in no time.
Education & Academic

Adventures into the Mathematical Forest of Fractal Trees

Without doubt, the golden ratio is nowadays considered the most mysterious, magical, and fascinating number that exists: . As we will see in this post, this number still has many interesting properties that can be investigated, some even dating back to the works of the ancient Greeks Pythagoras and Euclid, the Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, and the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler. Though it might sound strange, I will unveil new geometric objects associated with the golden ratio, which are the objects that illuminated my way when I attempted to map an unknown region of the Mathematical Forest. The following findings aren't a mere accident; I've been working hard to grasp a glimpse of new knowledge since high school. After seeing Hans Walser's drawings of golden fractal trees in 2007, I was convinced that there was still space for exploration and new discoveries. Though I had to wait quite a while, I finally found the right tools: Mathematica, combined with Theo Gray's "Tree Bender" Demonstration. After gathering some intuition and a rudimentary knowledge of the Wolfram Language, I encountered my first insights. For example, here is one of the first self-contacting golden trees that I discovered when I created my own version of "Tree Bender" in order to explore ternary trees (trees with three branches per node):

The Rubik’s Cube: 40 Years of Geometrical Abandon

In 1974, a Hungarian professor of architecture by the name of Ernő Rubik came up with a seemingly simple idea: to create a small, 2x2x2 rotating cube made up of sub-cubes to use as a teaching tool for his students. Little did he know that this device, which was originally intended simply to help visualize moving parts in three dimensions (and didn't even work that well), would develop into a puzzle that continues, to this day, to plague and fascinate minds of all ages. Minds, for example, like mine. Most younger siblings get hand-me-down clothes, books, or toys---but when I was thirteen years old, my big brother placed a dented and worn colorful plastic cube into my hands. The stickers were peeling and falling off, it was rickety and hard to turn, but I didn't care, it was perfect.
Education & Academic

How Intel ISEF Students Use Mathematica

Working for Wolfram Sponsorships is a little bit like playing Santa Claus to thousands of talented students all over the world. It's a privilege to get a glimpse of their projects and achievements, and I enjoy hearing from them about how they've used their Wolfram awards. One of my favorite sponsorships is the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), currently underway in Los Angeles. For the ninth consecutive year, Wolfram Research has been a proud sponsor of this event. A program of Society for Science & the Public, the Intel ISEF is the world's largest pre-college science competition, and includes more than 1,700 high school students from more than 70 countries, regions, and territories. Each year, the finalists showcase their independent research as they compete for more than $5 million in awards. The ISEF encourages millions of students worldwide to explore their passion for innovation and develop solutions for global challenges.
Design & Visualization

2048, Wolfram Style

If you've been anywhere on the internet these past few weeks, there's little doubt that you've come across the game 2048 (made by Gabriele Cirulli). Based on the similar games 1024! (by Veewo Studio) and THREES (by Asher Vollmer), this game has a simple mechanic that can leave you puzzled for days---slide powers of two around a grid, and combine them to make higher powers of two. The goal is to get to 2048. It's hard to explain just how fun and challenging this game is, so I recommend playing it for yourself. So, as a tribute to this little game (and in honor of all games mathematical!), I thought it would be fun to demonstrate the power of the Wolfram Language by using it to make our own version of 2048. Let's go! The basic structure for the game board will be a 4X4 matrix, initialized with an empty element in each position: