Here on Shiny Things Distract Us, Fraxas is the real Code-Wizard-Software-Developer-Computer-Programmer guy; I'm just a meatspace lab monkey. What limited experience I have with the world of algorithms and other abstractions comes from my occasional use of Mathematica to model data or solve the Python Challenge. I really love Mathematica; it's fun and easy to tool around with. If I had learned to code with Mathematica, rather than the tooth-cracking monstrosity that is C++ or Motorola 6800 machine language, I might have discovered enough enjoyment to find a calling. Oh well! Back to the soldering iron.
I've blogged (if tangentially) about Mathematica and its creator, Stephen Wolfram, before. His latest project, Wolfram Alpha, has been picking up a lot of buzz, and I'm very excited to try it out next month or so. (Here are two Slashdot posts on the subject: 1, 2.)
Stephen Wolfram's outsize ego, as made physical in the sheer mass and pagecount (1197) of his vanity-published book A New Kind of Science, is the source of much controversy. Basically, he argues that all of science and nature can be explained by simple cellular automata, a claim that may be neither New nor a Kind of Science. Nevertheless, I find Wolfram fascinating and amusing all at once, and I thank him for bringing Mathematica to the world.
But this is the best take-down of him, or anyone, that I have ever read. Hilarious:
bixx456's review of A New Kind of Science from Amazon.com.
More on Alpha below: