nmad222's blog

Graph Exploration

A few years ago, before the explosion of the Web into popular culture, and especially before Facebook and social networking brought the concept to surface in a directly personal concept, few outside mathematics were interested in graphs.  Today, however, they have become extremely popular for intuiting the vast weave of interconnected, but irregular or incomplete, data that's become so prevalent.  Graph databases such as Neo4j have risen in the space known as NoSQL to replace traditional relational databases for solving certain types of problems with incredible speedups.  However, tools like this require a certain level of technical arcana that make them inaccessible or uninteresting to many.  A higher level tool, and the subject of this post, are the graph visualizers.

Visual Chemistry

How does DNA work?  There's an A, and a C, and a G, and some other letter I can't readily recall, but did manage to learn to pass a test at some point.  I remember hearing about this double helix thing, the kind of far out, 'whoa how awesome is the universe!' kind of thing hippies dig, but eventually burn out on.  Apparently it was some transcendental cosmic beauty that made this so, but I would never be able to comprehend it fully due to my insufficient grounding in chemistry, most of which consisted of mnemonic devices to a random assortment of formulas, recounted in a voice to trick toy dogs and cheerleaders into thinking chemistry was fun.  Suffice it to say, the animated cartoon hillbilly DNA strand from Jurassic Park a few years prior made a much more lasting impression on my young mind.

Feynman's illustration of water molecules in steam

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