"...And not everyone has gone through that thought process." Indeed.
"The systematic, careful collection of measurements or counts of relevant quantities is often the critical difference between pseudo-sciences, such as alchemy, and science, such as chemistry or biology."
various writings, mine and found
- you know what a metaphor is, but read this anyway, because metaphors are so fundamental to everything i talk about.
- mechanized thought, and other follies.
- source material for the women computers project.
- managing complexity in technological arts.
- My general intro to Sensing and perception.
- A slightly more-specific intro to computer sensing as technique.
- representation of numbers in computing (and elsewhere).
- bits, baud, modulation rates in serial communication.
- A cursory read of the scientific method
really, only last half of 'Elements' "operation, observation, model, utility" though the rest won't hurt you.
- Read "Overview" in scientific experiment. Rarely do we need to be so rigorous, but the fundamentals are in fact critical, but easy and sensible in a practical way. without them you'll get lost. We do 'experiments' to test and characterize simple sensors.
- Michael Augros' "A Bigger Physics" (2009) (URL) and (PDF) is a broad-ranging non-technical discussion of modern physics philisophy. Though long, it's mostly a fairly easy read, and though it seems off-topic, this contains the underlying worldview that the sensors you buy from SparkFun assume!
- And not just so you don't think it's all one seamless monolith: many people doubt the dogma. In my opinion they are all correct. The late Paul Feyerabend especially rants on epistemological anarchism.
- If you find this stuff interesting, Thomas Kuhn's brief book Structure of Scientific Revolutions was a world-changing read for me. It points out the way in which science differs from other fields -- revolutions in thought overturn old ones, which are banished utterly. (Kuhn: "I'd never read an old document in science." Aristotle's Physics was astonishingly unlike Isaac Newton's work in its concepts of matter and motion. Kuhn concluded that Aristotle's concepts were not "bad Newton," just different.) --Wikipedia (Be warned that in current philosophy of science studies the ideas in this book are considered somewhat obsolete and now controversial, but i have no stake in those peoples' turf wars.)
- my an annotated history of some character codes is an overly long detailed look at specific character representations used in serial communications from the telegraph era through mid 1960's.
- Alan Turing messing with everyone's heads in his 1950 Computing Machinery and Intelligence, aka the imitation game. if you don't know about Alan Turing you should; he was a remarkable person and a big weirdo (i say that with extreme fondness). in this paper he lays out a functional test for the simulation of intelligence, still known today as the "turing test". however the original paper, here, he supposes a person (eg. a man, this is 1950 England) guessing whether the entity the man is corresponding with is male or female, with attendant possibilities for discomfort and embarrassment. this aspect of the paper is never mentioned. for context, by 1950, turing was an out of the closet homosexual, who took his own life fours years later, after a run in with the law and a young man. turing's work defined computers today as we know them, and his work at Bletchley Park contributed directly to the cracking of German naval codes:
So just how important was he? "Winston Churchill said that Turing made the single biggest contribution to Allied
victory in the war against Nazi Germany and its Axis partners. Not one of the biggest, or really bloody huge, or
damned near incalculable, but the single most estimable contribution of any person, period. Captain Jerry Roberts,
who worked with Turing at Bletchley Park and who was in a position to see firsthand exactly how his codebreaking
interacted with the rest of the war effort, says "without him we would have lost the war"".
Roberts told the BBC:
You have to understand the measure of what Turing did. Early in the war, in 1939, he had broken
the Enigma used by the Luftwaffe and the German army but he'd been unable to break the naval Enigma. In
1940/41 the German U-boats were sinking our food ships and our ships bringing in armaments left right
and centre, and there was nothing to stop this until Turing managed to break naval Enigma, as used by
the U-boats. We then knew where the U-boats were positioned in the Atlantic and our convoys could avoid
them. If that hadn't happened, it is entirely possible, even probable, that Britain would have been
starved and would have lost the war.
quoted from theturingcentenary.wordpress.com. the Alan Turing home page is at www.turing.org.uk
papers on obsolete ideas, or wars won (or lost)
- On Holy Wars, and a Plea for Peace, old paradigms of symbolic representation battle a useless war. no one remembers it, with good reason, but it reveals that representations are neither right nor wrong, but cultural decisions made for not always fully rational reasons. whatever works. this is sort of anti-philosophy, or paraphilosophy; we just want to get some work done!
- Mel the Programmer is a tale from the [first?] macho era of programming. at the dawn of actual computing (loosely, 1948..1955) most programmers were women, because "everyone knew" that it was the manly machines that did the real work, and that programs were mere clerical arrangement of statements to command it so (this attitude likely informed by historic practices of manual numerical analysis) -- and then suddenly, with access to actual computers, men realized that programming was in fact the manly thing to do, and by 1955 all the women were kicked out of the club. people like Mel were the result.
Mel was a real person -- Mel Kaye, who worked at Librascope-General Precision in Glendale CA, makers of the LGP-30 computer. i have his name and signature in the software libraries for the follow-on product, the transistorized LGP-21, that i own. and lo! within the software library (printed book) is a programming example highlighting the very instruction-modification referred to in the ditty above. i discovered this fact 30 years after first reading MELTHEPROGRAMMER texts that were distributed on reel tape. the actual example "cited" in the story, where the loop control instruction is itself modified to terminate the loop, actually appears in the LGP-21 manual.
- Real Programmers Don't Write Pascal (the name based upon a humor book making the rounds at the time, "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche") is a somewhat tongue in cheek rant about the growing resistance to efforts to rein in aforementioned macho programmers. like brogrammers of today men resisted cultural changes that were making programming a more widespread practice instead of a priesthood. things change slowly...
one element of (intentional) humor here, easily missed without knowledge of the historical context (or by those not actually taking the hint from the footnoted references) is that in the prior, Mel, era, even using "high-level" languages like FORTRAN was resisted (by implication, unmanly); here, in REALPROG, FORTRAN has taken on "macho" character, implying ... oh you can figure it out, i'm tired of typing.