Astronomy, Curent Events, live stream, Murderous Maths, Notes on everyday life, Physics, Set the beautiful mind free, Simon's sketch book, Space

More Stephen Wolfram and Brian Greene

What has been your silver lining during this COVID-19 crisis so far, in terms of self-directed learning? Simon is happy that Grant Sanderson, Stephen Wolfram and Brian Greene all have more time now to make frequent streams and tutorials. In fact, he can’t even follow all of them live as they often overlap!

Luckily, years of homeschooling have allowed us to develop a very flexible approach to daily routine, enabling us to embrace learning opportunities from across the Atlantic, that mostly present themselves in the evening hours. Our learning is circular, cyclical, not linear (we learn around the clock and Simon often returns to the topics he has already covered before but at a new level).

Simon delirious watching a Stephen Wolfram livestream
A screenshot from the live chat in Stephen Wolfram’s stream

Brian Greene publishes daily videos called “Your Daily Equations” on the World Science Festival channel, and viewers can “order” which equation they want to discuss next. He also does a weekly live Q&A.

It’s funny how both Wolfram and Greene are Simon’s professors as part of the World Science Scholars program, but he seems to have gotten a better chance to engage with them personally now that we’re all stuck at home (through the live chat and comments) than during the official World Science Scholars sessions!

Every day, Simon feels like he’s sitting right next to Brian Greene in his living room. There’s this atmosphere of informal talk and human warmth, as one of the world’s top flight professors is accessible for questions and gives Simon and other students so much of his precious time to explain all the quantum physics fundamentals. So touching yesterday, as Brian Greene just took off his socks and held them up in the air to visualise spin.
On April 2: there’re equations for relativistic mass and rest mass. The speed of light equation that Brain Greene talks about is with relativistic mass. — Do you know the equation with the rest mass? — No… In fact, let’s derive it right now!
Astronomy, Experiments, Geography, history, Milestones, Notes on everyday life, Physics, Space, Together with sis, Trips

We’ve found the real 0° meridian!

And it turned out to be a that little path next to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, not the Prime Meridian line. The 0° meridian is what the GPS uses for global navigation, the discrepancy results from the fact that the Prime Meridian was originally measured without taking it into consideration that the Earth isn’t a perfect smooth ball (if the measurements are made inside the UK, as it it was originally done, this does’t lead to as much discrepancy as when vaster areas are included).

Simon standing with one foot in the Western hemisphere and the other one in the Eastern hemisphere
The GPS determines the longitude of the Prime Meridian as 0.0015° W
Simon tried to use JS to program his exact coordinates, but that took a bit too long so we switched to the standard Google Maps instead
The Prime Meridian from inside the Royal Observatory building
Looking for the real 0° meridian: this is an open field next to the Royal Observatory. At this point, the SatNav reads 0.0004° W.
And we finally found the 0° meridian! Some 100 meters to the East of the Prime Meridian
The 0° meridian turned out to intersect the highest point on the path behind Simon’s back!
Simon and Neva running about in between the measurements of longitude
Astronomer Royal Edmond Halley’s scale at the Royal Observatory
Halley’s scale is inscribed by hand
Space, Together with sis


Looking at the Moon and the Orion nebula from a roof top together with a true friend

The telescopes were brought to the panorama floor of the museum “het MAS” by the Urania observatory staff and volunteers, including Robert Matheus – a very special someone who has already done so much for us in the past.

Simon into Simon’s eyes, is it like a mirror reflected by a mirror? (Simon’s best friend is also called Simon).

Coding, Java, Physics, Simon makes gamez, Simon's Own Code, Space

MotorAttractor with Box2D in Processing (Java)

In this project Simon combined two exercises and one example from Daniel Shiffman’s Nature of Code book, Chapter 5 – Physic Libraries. The specific physics library used here is Box2D. Simon combined exercises 5.6 (Bridge) and 5.10 (Attraction Apply Force), and example 5.7 (Create a windmill) to create a motor that catapults particles towards an attractor. If the particles fly past the attractor, “bricks” can be added to the canvas by clicking the mouse – the weight of the bricks helps regulate the motor in the right direction. For this project, both gravitational attraction and global gravity force were applied:




Biology, Coding, Java, JavaScript, Milestones, Murderous Maths, Simon's Own Code, Space

Simulating Evolution: Evolutionary Steering Behaviors


On Wednesday Simon went on with playing god (evolution simulation) and translated Daniel Shiffman’s Evolutionary Steering Behaviors Coding Challenge from JavaScript to Java.  The goal of the challenge is to create a system where autonomous steering agents (smart rockets) evolve the behavior of eating food (green dots) and avoiding poison (red dots).

This challenge is part of the spring 2017 “Intelligence and Learning” course at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program. Simon was especially happy to find out that Daniel Shiffman left a couple of personal comments praising Simon’s progress and offering help in pushing his code to Danniel’s GitHub repo.

Here is Simon’s translation on GitHub:

The rockets have their own DNA consisting of four genes:


The challenge step by step:






Coding, html, JavaScript, Simon makes gamez, Space

Asteroids Coding Challenge

Simon has built this fun Atari game where a spaceship shoots at asteroids with laser and breaks them down into pieces. It was actually another coding challenge by Daniel Shiffman that Simon had tried a couple months ago when he was just beginning to write code. Back then he got seriously stuck at the asteroids phase (using JavaScript and HTML5 canvas with the p5.js library to program the “laser” functionality and examine collision detection with the asteroids). This time around, however, he glided through the challenge, nearly effortlessly, in his own words. He did enjoy it immensely and even tried rebuilding it on the RaspberryPi, but had “a copy-paste issue”.

The code in online in the p5.js web editor. You can run it and play the game, you can also hit the Download button and play on a big screen!