Well, as anyone living in Edmonton knows, the weather in our area has been, well… rather crappy. Cold, rainy, windy, it feels more like the fall than waning summer. And through it all, I’ve persisted in cycle commuting, mostly because it allows me to justify (excuse) a rather gastronomically decadent lifestyle. Consequently, I’ve found myself caught in more than a few showers over the last few weeks, resulting in much dampness, and, oddly enough, a bit of inspiration.
Now, a favorite show of many folks, myself included, is Mythbusters. They attempt to perform “scientific” experiments to verify or debunk various myths, preconceived notions, and so forth. Now, one of the topics they tackled was: Does moving faster in the rain keep you dry, or get you wetter? Well, in their “experiment”, I seem to recall they found little difference between slow or fast walking, which I found a little surprising, and during a recent bike trip, I found myself pondering how it is they could have found the results they did.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been digging more deeply into the joyous language that is Smalltalk, specifically the Squeak implementation, and a related web application framework called Seaside. However, I’ve been at a loss for a small-scale project to hack up that would allow me to flex my rather atrophed Smalltalk muscles. And so it was that, a couple days ago, while cycling home in the rain, I realized, why not simulate a person walking through a rain storm, and determine whether the Mythbusters results were accurate?
Now, before I get into the details, I should point out this really is pretty non-scientific. I’m sure there are details that I’ve missed which make this simulation completely unrealistic. But, it was fun. :) Now, a bit of explanation about my methodology. First, the simulation is two-dimensional, since I didn’t think the added complexity of doing a full, 3D simulation would generate sufficiently different results. Second, rather than moving my subject through a shower of rain drops at varying speeds, I decided to apply a uniform direction vector to the drops themselves (basically move the drops instead of the subject… the effect is the same, but the implementation is a lot easier). With that said, the experiment is set up as follows (note, these parameters are all configurable, but this is what I chose… they’re entirely arbitrary):
- The rain drop spawn field is 20m by 20m.
- The rain drops are created at a rate of 80 every second, distributed randomly across the top of the spawn field.
- Rain drops fall at the terminal velocity for a typical drop indicated [http://www.grow.arizona.edu/water/raindropvelocity.shtml here] (6.25 m/s).
- The subject is a rectangle approximately 6 feet tall by 6 inches wide.
- The subject’s walking speed varies from 1 to 8 m/s, stepping 0.25 m/s per experiment.
- The subject “walks” a fixed 20m during each experiment.
- Each experiment was repeated 10 times and the results averaged (since rain drops are spawned in random positions).
The final tallies can be seen in the graph below:
Granted, it looks a bit noisy, but the general trend appears to indicate that moving faster through a rain storm helps keep you drier! Though, the advantage does seem to level off (it looks like a roughly exponential decay, to me, with the limit at some non-zero value). Remember that, folks… the weather doesn’t look like it’s going to improve. :(
Incidentally, working on this in Squeak has been quite enjoyable. The richness of the class library made many tasks far easier than they would be in other languages, and the ability to fix bugs as I go, and then continue running the code is, to say the least, incredibly cool. And, frankly, I think Smalltalk is the most elegant programming language I’ve ever worked with. :)
Found an oversight in my simulation, but the above graph now reflects the latest version. In short, I had to make sure the playfield was populated with raindrops before beginning each walk. Otherwise, the subject could complete the walk before a drop ever fell low enough to hit him!
Woo! I win a gold star!
Why did I install you, StumbleUpon? WHY???
Okay, so a little background, StumbleUpon is this browser extension that adds a toolbar to your browser. If you hit “Stumble”, it’ll search for websites it thinks you might like. Then you rate them. It has categories, so you can select particular subject matter, and you can even post comments and read what other people have to say.
Well, as you can imagine, this is an immense time waster. I mean, it’s really bad. It’s like the Del.icio.us front page, except less work. And the stuff I’ve found? Well, here’s a few gems:
- Taylor Hall Planet Perplex
- Kid Creatures
- The above lead me to: The Monster Engine
- Gummi Bear Sculptures
- T-Shirt Stencil Tutorial
- Crazy Bathroom. StumbleUpon actually found a blog entry on this subject, and some co-workers tracked it down on Snopes.
And those are just the things I thought were really cool. I just wish I hadn’t found yet another way to procrastinate at work.
I just came across this. It has photos and virtual tours of various Asian temples and other buildings. Very very neat.
It’s amazing what a little boredom can do. After exploring Sensei’s Library, I thought to myself, you know what Oddmuse is missing? A module for displaying Go boards! Well, here it is!
Edit: Okay, I lied, this worked when I was using Oddmuse, but now that I’m on Jekyll it doesn’t anymore… so we’ll just have to use our imaginations.
Now, it doesn’t quite support all the features of the formatter at SL, and it uses a different board definition format (it’s more flexible… although, in truth, it was mainly designed to be as easy to parse as possible :), but as you can see, it certainly does the job. I even worked a little magic so that text in the captions is formatted just like any other wiki text! Snazzy, eh?
Anyway, if anyone is interested in this thing, just write a comment and I’ll put it up.
You can also see that I’ve been fiddling around with the formatting so that text flows around the goban. I’m not sure how I feel about it, just yet (if there were multiple boards one wished to discuss, it could get annoying), but it does look kinda cool.
Am I the only one that has a problem with severe procrastination? I can’t be… I just have no motivation. I blame the Intarweb. God damned thing. Giving a person like me daily access to the internet is like giving Heroine to someone who’s predisposed to addiction. The following is, I think, an accurate graph of my productivity following the popularization of the internet (hah! Finally I can use my gnuplot plugin):
The only solace I can take is the fact that, in the past, people just procrastinated in different ways. They talked on the phone, or congregated around the water cooler. They went for “coffee break”, or who knows what else. So, now, instead of getting up and socializing with our colleagues, we browse the web… yet another example of how the internet is both pulling us all together and pushing us apart (somehow, Asimov’s “Naked Sun” comes to mind).
1 of 2