Focusing on a screen, whether it’s your work screen or your post-work FUN SCREEN(!), can feel like it’s draining the life force right out of you and making it impossible to focus on anything longer than 280 characters (and to be honest, some of those long Tweets are a stretch, too).
But a new tool, a font called “Bionic Reading,” claims to help readers—particular those with attention issues—focus on an absorb text. The font renders “the most concise parts of words” in bold, which the font’s creators claim will “guide the eye over the text” and help the brain remember “previously learned words more quickly.”
From web archives to television news to digitized books & periodicals, dozens of projects rely on the collections available at archive.org for computational & bibliographic research across a large digital corpus. This series will feature six sessions highlighting the innovative scholars that are using Internet Archive collections, services and APIs to support data-driven projects in the humanities and beyond.
Want to participate? Register below! Do you have a research project that uses materials from the Internet Archive? We’re offering a Lightning Talks session at the end of our series to give more people an opportunity to share your research with the world. Simply complete our online form to be considered.
Many thanks to the program advisory group:
Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration and Dean, University Library and Professor of History, Northeastern University
Makiba Foster, Library Regional Manager for the African American Research Library and Cultural Center, Broward County Library
Mike Furlough, Executive Director, HathiTrust
Harriett Green, Associate University Librarian for Digital Scholarship and Technology Services, Washington University Libraries
“The Ready to Code Collection provides resources and strategies for coding and computational thinking activities that are grounded in research, aligned with library core values, and support broadening participation.”
An initiative of the American Library Association (ALA)…
This week, we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL was founded long before it became NASA’s premier center for robotic exploration of the solar system – and even before the agency existed. In fact, JPL started as the test-bed for some of the earliest rocketry experiments (thus the name “Jet Propulsion Laboratory”). There were a number of factors that conspired to change JPL’s focus from rocketry to space exploration. The Space Race and the resulting formation of NASA were two major factors. But also, with its growing expertise in launching rockets to new heights, JPL was anxious to take its experiments even farther. So in 1957, when the Soviet Union won the first leg of the Space Race by placing Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, into Earth orbit, JPL was called into action. A few months later, NASA launched the JPL-built Explorer 1, which became the first U.S. satellite.Explorer 1 became the first U.S. space satellite in 1958. It was built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Image credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechSoon, the challenge was to land on the moon – and JPL was once again called to the task. Landing on another planetary body had never been accomplished so, understandably, it took a few tries to get things right. JPL’s first attempts at a moon landing with Rangers 1 through 6 all failed for various reasons. Some of the spacecraft flew very near the moon only to miss it by a few hundred kilometers; others met their mark only to have onboard cameras fail. Ranger 7 was the first mission to successfully land on the moon and transmit data, capturing images 1,000-times better than those obtained by ground-based telescopes. It wasn’t a particularly soft landing; rather it was a purposeful crash landing, capturing images along the way. But everyone at JPL was thrilled to have hit their target and returned usable data. These data, and those collected by subsequent missions, made possible NASA’s later human missions to the moon.Ranger 7 was the first U.S. mission to fly by the moon. This was one of more than 4,300 images sent back during the flyby. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech At the same time it was launching the Ranger lunar missions, JPL had also set its sights on venturing even farther into space and began launching a series of missions called Mariner to Venus, Mercury and Mars. It wasn’t long before JPL’s specialty became creating robotic spacecraft to go not just to the moon, but also where no one had gone before. Learn more about the history of JPL and the U.S. space program in the video series below. And explore the interactive timeline. How They Did ItWhat’s often not known is that all the early rocket experiments and later missions to the moon and beyond wouldn’t have been possible without a team at JPL known as the human “computers.” Most of these human computers were women who either had degrees in mathematics or were simply very good at mathematics. Over the course of time, these women not only performed hundreds of thousands of mathematical calculations crucial to the U.S. space program, but also eventually became some of the first computer programmers at NASA.A talented team of women, who were around since JPL’s beginnings in 1936 and who were known as computers, were responsible for the number-crunching of launch windows, trajectories, fuel consumption and other details that helped make the U.S. space program a success. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In the early days of space exploration, the best mechanical computers were large (the size of a room) and not particularly powerful. Human capabilities were much more powerful for many tasks, including the rapid calculations needed for trajectory analysis and verification, as well as the graphing of data points on trajectories, which made a spacecraft’s path easy to see.One of the human computers’ main tasks was computing the planned trajectories, or paths, for a spacecraft based on the vehicle weight, lift capacity of the rocket, and the orbital dynamics of the planets. When a spacecraft is launched, it begins sending telemetry signals back to Earth. These signals tell engineers information about the spacecraft’s location and health. But this information isn’t perfectly straightforward. It arrives as a bunch of numbers that need to be combined in formulas along with other constantly changing parameters (such as velocity, vehicle mass and the effect of gravity from nearby bodies) in order to reveal the spacecraft’s actual location. Before there were computers (as we know them today) to do these calculations, human computers would feverishly calculate the exact location of the spacecraft as the telemetry came in and compare that to the planned trajectories. Their calculations would reveal whether the spacecraft was on target. A computer in the control room at JPL tracks the position of Mariner 2. The spacecraft became the first to fly by another planet when it reached Venus in 1952
It was April 1968 and my father was sitting in a theater in Times Square watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, certain that what he was seeing wasn’t just a movie but the future. When it ended, he got up and walked out into Times Square, with its peep-show glitz and sleazy, flashing advertisements; he found the uptown subway beneath the yellow marquees for dirty movies like The Filthy 5; and through all of it, he thought that when humanity hurls itself into the depths of the cosmos, this is how we will do it. In the film’s iconic final shot, the space baby looks down at the planet to which it is no longer bound. Freedom, this shot says, is imminent.
My father was twenty-four then, and perhaps at his most world-historical: he was becoming an expert in computers. He’d worked for IBM in Poughkeepsie, New York, a corporate labyrinth of beige cubicles and epochal breakthroughs; a world of punch cards and reel-to-reel magnetic tape, where at least some of the employees were deadly serious about making sure to wear the company tie clip and then, once they were off duty, to switch to their own personal tie clips.