Brain Overflow

I'm a great fan of Stack Overflow, which is a collaborative expert-sexchange style site that actually has useful answers to your questions. The site allows anyone to ask software development questions, and registered users can answer them, and also vote on other people's answers, giving a consensus opinion that is surprisingly accurate. The site itself has some nice features, with heavy use of AJAX for dynamic forms and open interfaces for avatars and authentication. The site also functions as a wiki and hosts meta-discussion about itself. And, if you want to do something clever with a host of questions, answers, ratings and wiki articles, the data is available as a torrent to download.

Anyway, the creators have spun off the software behind it as a stand-alone product for community question-and-answer sites as StackExchange. They sell consultancy and services as well as hosted versions of the software as white-label sites, and give away free access for non-commercial usage. It's a nice business model which I'd love to copy with my own software...

While looking at some of these associated sites, I discovered Math Overflow, which makes Andrew feel stupid.. This is chock full of people asking about non-trivial isomorphisms, homologous cauchy integral groups over non-integral fields, and getting intelligent answers! Of course, there's also lots of homework questions, and potentially unanswerable stuff in there too. I really like some of the philosophical discussions that pop up, as well as the more basic questions which are good at reminding me how much of my education I've forgotten due to alcohol and time...

The whole point of this post is that I found this amazing video, which is a sphere being turned inside-out in the most awesome way possible, with a little help from Pixar and the University of Minnesota. The frame shown is above is just part of the transformation, which is very clearly explained. The whole video is just over 20 minutes long, and I suggest you watch it all the way through, as it's pretty cool (and probably expensive, counting the number of grants that funded it...) animation for 1994.

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