Archive for March 20th, 2011

Sunday Links: Gesundheit!

March 20, 2011 @ 6:57 am | Filed under:

Because the world can’t get enough of babies grinning big gummy smiles: here’s a clip that’s making the rounds this week. Mommy’s nose-blowing is the scariest thing ever—no wait, the funniest—no wait, the scariest—no, wait…

HT Scott, as usual

What happens when computers stop shrinking?—Salon

Moore’s law, a rule of thumb that has driven the computer industry for fifty or more years, setting the pace for modern civilization like clockwork. Moore’s law simply says that computer power doubles about every eighteen months. According to Moore’s law, every Christmas your new computer games are almost twice as powerful (in terms of the number of transistors) as those from the previous year. Furthermore, as the years pass, this incremental gain becomes monumental. For example, when you receive a birthday card in the mail, it often has a chip that sings “Happy Birthday” to you. Remarkably, that chip has more computer power than all the Allied forces of 1945. Hitler, Churchill, or Roosevelt might have killed to get that chip. But what do we do with it? After the birthday, we throw the card and chip away. Today, your cell phone has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon. Video games, which consume enormous amounts of computer power to simulate 3-D situations, use more computer power than mainframe computers of the previous decade. The Sony PlayStation of today, which costs $300, has the power of a military supercomputer of 1997, which cost millions of dollars.

Oregon Trail: how three Minnesotans forged its path

Rawitsch, a lanky, bespectacled 21-year-old with hair well over his ears, was both a perfectionist and an idealist. He started dressing as historical figures in an attempt to win over his students, appearing in the classroom as explorer Meriwether Lewis.

By now he’d made it through to the western expansion unit, and he had in mind his boldest idea yet.

What he had so far was a board game tracing a path from Independence, Missouri, to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The students would pretend to be pioneer families. Each player would start with a certain amount of money and buy oxen, clothes, and food. Students would advance with the roll of a die, along the way encountering various misfortunes: broken limbs, thieves, disease. In roughly 12 turns, the kids would simulate the 2,000-mile journey that thousands of pioneers made to the West Coast in the 19th century.

He called it “Oregon Trail.”

Oregon Trail, as it happens, was one of the first things I ever wrote about on this blog. It still gets played around here from time to time (and awaits the day our younger set will discover it).