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Math

Submission + - Grad student looking to contribute to Open Source

An anonymous reader writes: I am an Applied Math grad student who knows a bit of Mathematics and a bit of programming. C++ being my first programming language, I am decent at it. I wish to start contributing to a numerical library with two purposes — contribute to open source and develop my C++ skills at the same time. I looked at the Boost libraries and joined the developer list. However, I have no idea on how to start contributing. I'm not an expert in template programming, having written only toy programs to understand that concept. I've used some of the OOP constructs like inheritance, but that too only for very small projects.

Could slashdotters please give me tips on how to get started on the contribution? Are there any other emerging numerical libraries to which I can contribute? Are there any other avenues where I can contribute to open source and improve programming skills?
Technology

Submission + - Technological Genius is Timeliness Not Inspiration

Hugh Pickens writes: "Ezra Klein has an interesting essay in the Washington Post about "simultaneous invention," where technology advances to the point that the next step is obvious to multiple people at once, and so they all push forward with the same or similar inventions because while the natural capabilities of human beings don't change much from year to year, their environments do, and so does the technology and store of knowledge they can access. One good example is Alexander Graham Bell, who in all likelihood invented the telephone after Elisha Gray — and both of them came after Antonio Meucci, who couldn't afford the fee to keep his patent current. "The idea of the lone genius who has the eureka moment where they suddenly get a great idea that changes the world is not just the exception," says Steven Johnson, author of "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation," "but almost nonexistent." Or consider Adam Goldberg's CU Community, created in 2003 at Columbia University, a social network that launched first and had cooler features than Facebook, with options for pictures and integrated blogging software. "Today, Zuckerberg is many times as rich as Goldberg," writes Klein. "He won. Zuckerberg's dominance can be attributed partly to the clean interface of his site, partly to the cachet of the Harvard name and partly to luck. But the difference between Mark Zuckerberg and Adam Goldberg was very small, while the difference between what Mark Zuckerberg could do and what the smartest college kid in 1999 could do was huge. It was the commons supporting them both that really mattered. ""

Comment Celibacy and creativity (Score 1) 251

There is a well known rumor that keeping celibacy is a great source of creativity.

From Nikola Tesla's webpage:

"Tesla never married. He was celibate and claimed that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities.[22] Nonetheless there have been numerous accounts of women vying for Tesla's affection, even some madly in love with him. Tesla, though polite, behaved rather ambivalently to these women in the romantic sense."

I am sure i could find some other intellectuals who were celibates, or at least didn't give so much importance to sex. Maybe the greats insights of these genius provided them with greater pleasure (and less ephemeral) as substitute for physical orgasms. Or it may be simply that they didn't have much time or didn't give the importance to it.

Comment Science and spirituality are compatible (Score 1) 1123

I think most people have religion because emotional/psychological reasons. If the reason of the belief were 100% logical, i think there would be a more big number of atheist people, because obviously some of the claims made by religion sound completely illogical if you give some thought.

But when comfronted with such questions such as: What happens when i die? How can i be sure that what i am doing is right? How do i face tragedy? Does my life have a purpose? These are big questions that if you give some thought are handled in certain ways by religions and give (although maybe not very thoughtful) answers, and even when science may have some insights regarding these questions, these answers come a little dry and not having too much perspective about human nature.

I, for example, being a very logical person and atheist, have sometimes strugled having something to "replace" the insights and comforts given by most religions. I sometimes have felt very insecure regarding my future, and see that this is sometimes handled by the term of faith in some religions, to give you an example.

I think that if we start to think of spirituality as the wisdom to answer these kind of questions and also as an awareness of the beautifulness of life and the world, quitting all the nonsense and baggage of most religions, we could see that these two terms are not ultimately fought.

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