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  • May 27: Back Bacon

    Although a side dish, one of the most popular recipes on our Kitchen Shelf tells the story of Bacon Numbers, which measure connectivity in the historical network of movie making, with actor Kevin Bacon as hub. A follow-up raises the problem of computing the true center of that complex network, suggesting a rather surprising candidate for most connected. Over the past year, Brett Tjaden of the University of Virginia has greatly enhanced his wonderful Oracle of Bacon web site so you can specify any actor as the root of the graph and find the minimal path through shared films to any other. Now Brett writes to tell us that his powerful computer has been busy finally settling once and for all the issue of who has shortest mean distance to all other actors in the giant component of cinema. (Well, at least for now, as measured by the Internet Movie Database...) It turns out that Kevin Bacon comes in 620th place, and our former pretender to the crown finishes second to this guy. For more surprising details, see the Top 260. Thanks again to Brett and the Oracle for keeping us posted!

    Salsa Amatriciana has been added to the Real Recipes collection.

  • May 19: Life without Death is P-complete

    Another addition to the Lagniappe collection offers one measure of the complexity of the LwoD crystal growth rule. Joint work with Cris Moore of the Santa Fe Institute, our paper is available in an expurgated hypertext version, or as a downloadable postscript file with all the gory quantitative details.

  • May 12: The Oscillator Problem for Conway's Life

    A new page in the Lagniappe collection advertises recent remarkable discoveries for Conway's Game of Life by Buckingham, Callahan, Hickerson et al. Review the state of art, then see if you can make your own contribution to cutting edge Life research.

    On the browser front, some font handling has changed as we try to cope with the incomplete style sheet implementation of the latest Netscape Communicator 4 beta. See Browser Issues for the latest wrinkles, and please email the chef if you experience Kitchen layout problems in these tumultuous times. Thanks!

  • April 30: Dr. Matrix Award for Science

    PSK has been chosen for the Weird Web World of Science, a colorful popular science directory, in the Technology category.

    After a wet and wild weekend at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, I've added three Crescent City trademarks to the Real Recipes collection:
    Red Beans and Rice with Sausage, Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce, and Chicken Jambalaya. Eat Mo Bettah!

  • April 19: Complex Studies?

    As my elder son finalizes his college plans, I'm reminded that many visitors to the PSK ask where they can study about cellular automata and the like. The general area is still lunatic fringe in the eyes of most reputable academic institutions, but a few centers are beinning to emerge under the guise of complex systems theory or nonlinear dynamics. For instance, John Holland has engineered a certificate-granting Program for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan. Another hotbed is the University of Texas Center for Nonlinear Dynamics. The above thumbnail was created by Eric Weeks, a grad student in Austin who has quite a nice Picture Gallery. More applied types might check out The Centre for Nonlinear Dynamics in Physiology and Medicine at McGill University, where Leon Glass and his colleagues study biophysical rhythms and arrythmia. Alas, here at the University of Wisconsin there is no formal academic program along these lines, but we do have an active Madison Chaos and Complex Systems Seminar which may one day provide the nucleus for a dedicated research and teaching program.

    Meanwhile, back from Santa Fe, I've been doing some spring cleaning in the Kitchen. For faster loading, our What's Cooking log has been split into this Recent page and older Leftovers from Fall 96 and Winter 96-7. Also, the Browser Issues page has been updated to reflect the latest betas of Communicator and Internet Explorer 4. Expect a new addition to the Lagniappe collection within the next few weeks.

  • April 6: Wolfram's Collected CA Papers

    Stephen Wolfram, of Mathematica fame, was one of the most influential pioneers of cellular automata. His fascinating empirical studies from the 1980's are now available on the Web in an elegant hypertext format. Recommended reading for anyone seriously interested in CA, especially in one dimension. A more recent glimpse of Wolfram's mindset appears in his contribution to HAL's Legacy, "Computers, Science, and Extraterrestrials."

    and for comic relief... some in-house fun from the folks at the Santa Fe Institute where the Chef is in residence this month. Consult the StuBot for hilarious randomly generated insights into Complexity in the style of local guru Stuart Kauffmann. The applet is based on a similar Chomskybot from the University of Michigan.

  • March 31: Exploratorium Cool Site

    PSK is one of Ten Cool Sites for the month of April chosen by the Exploratorium Learning Studio, a premiere source for interactive popular science

  • March 21: Bomb

    Scott Draves of Carnegie Mellon offers a CA-based interactive screen saver that one HotWired reviewer has called "the COOLEST piece of eye-candy I have yet to see ... it nearly blew my brain out all over the turntables." Available free for Power Mac, Win32, Linux and SGI platforms, Scott's program features a variety of Rug Rule and Reaction Diffusion based dynamics in some of the most beautiful palettes I have ever seen. Check this out - it's the bomb!

    The experimental version of PSK Chat announced last week seems to work fine, so the Chef will be available this next week during the noon hour MST. Please log in if you're in the mood to 'talk.'

    On the downside, the PSK Search page was broken for 10 days. My apologies. It's fixed now.

  • March 14: Chat with the Chef

    While gearing up for a month's visit to the Santa Fe Institute, I've installed a nice little Java chat applet by Jeff Breidenbach to help me keep in touch with Kitchen visitors. Here's how it will work, at least for starters: Whenever our chat server is up and running, you'll see

    on PSK's home page, left of the title graphic. If the icon is there and you feel like chatting, just click on it. We'll inaugurate an experimental version of this feature over the next couple of days. Alas, there are inevitable browser issues to track down as the wars continue...

  • March 9:

    Two more actual soups, Aush Shalizi and Dom Ka Gai, have been added to the Real Recipes. Both are fabuous!

    Also, the Kitchen was thoroughly cleaned, using the excellent InfoLink utility from BiggByte. We hope visitors will appreciate the virtual elimination of broken dishes.

  • March 3: Two-State Range 1 Automata

    There is a new Java applet in the CAffeine collection which simulates any of the 262,144 two-state CA rules with Range 1 Box neighborhood. 8 demo experiments illustrate HiLife, its bowtie replicator, and some aspects of nearest neighbor CA growth.

    Also added: a CAffeine link to Craig Reynolds' Boids pages, which now feature some nice applets of virtual flocking.

  • Recent Additions

  • Spring/Summer 98 Additions

  • Winter 97-8 Additions

  • Fall 97 Additions

  • Summer 97 Additions

  • Winter 96-7 Additions

  • Fall 96 Additions

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