No. 28 — Isoprenes ⚗️Think Like a Bot🦿Grand jeté
The air is vibrating
My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9629 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.
I’m back from my first work trip to Madrid and also the first big performance since the pandemic started (the fantastic ballet Play by Alexander at Palais Garnier, from which the photos are).
In both of these events the only thing I could think: so many isoprenes.
So, isoprenes. Turns out we humans carry in our breath non-verbal, non-visual coordination. The mixtures of gases in our breath –the carbon dioxide, acetone, and isoprene - create a fingerprint that allows researchers to study for example movies and whether they will become a hit. But I think breath also helps us understand why performing to a live audience is so different from a Zoom room.
In the formidable Spring Cannot Be Cancelled: David Hockney in Normandy David Hockney and Martin Gayford have a discussion about something similar.
Martin Gayford: But, of course, recorded music - though it gives us pleasure - isn’t the same as being at a performance.
David Hockney: Oh yes, yes. I hear through electronic things now. Thats’s all I can do because os my deafness, so I don’t go to concerts that much as I’m hearing it electronically. The great thing about concerts, I’d thought earlier on, was that it wasn’t electronic. You could hear in a different way. That’s how I discovered music.
Martin Gayford: There’s a physical connection in a live performance, as there is when you are in front of a picture or a sculpture. If someone is playing the violin in front of you, the air is vibrating as a result of their actions in the same space that you are occupying. Not only can we see musically, on your drives, in films, or when we watch an opera staged, we can also hear spaces.
David Hockney: If you think of it, the acoustics of a recording are the acoustics of another place - not those of the space that you are currently in. You are hearing it in a different room. That must set up a distance.
I think coming out of the pandemic will require more vocabulary from us to describe and explore all of these things.
Air that vibrates, distances that can be heard, hearing different spaces and sensing them through chemical cues. All of this from the simple act of sharing a physical space.
The opposite can’t just be lumped together with one word metaverse / virtual / online.
In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements whose order is not given by their physical placement in memory. But here it is a selection of things I’ve been reading lately.
Think Like a Bot. A game where you guess how AI labels images. Learning to see the world through non-human eyes can be .. enthralling? Would try this with older students!
Fermat’s Library: Statistical Physics and biology. This is a 1992 paper by Giorgio Parisi, one of the 2021 Physics Nobel Laureates, where he attempts to bring together physics and biology. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading so many early papers on the convergence of computer science as a discipline, I love the leap he is making here. It’s bold, forward-looking, like a grand jeté.
Footwork. “A work of dance might be recorded abstractly in notation, but it’s the performance that realizes it; you can’t really encounter a dance without seeing it performed.” I don’t know exactly the connection to my own work, but found these four chapters on dance so refreshing and sparking all kinds of metaphysical ideas. Also, go see Play, if you can.
I’m hoping to surface and share stories from all of you and I’d love to see your creations! Here are a few educators and parents using Ruby in creative, fun and inspiring ways.
Spoiler: The little reader wasn’t impressed with the Linux commands.
This is such an evergreen, cool project!
Denise creates these wonderful materials around Ruby. Here a connect-the-two version of the hardware-software activity.
Public events, workshops and presentations.
3.11. Sata kieltä tulevaisuuteen, Internet. A free talk on AI and machine learning and what does it mean to be a young person growing up in a world filled with these technologies. In Finnish + intended for 16-19 year olds.