The Complete Work of Charles Darwin

Wow, this site contains a huge number of works by Charles Darwin. 50,000 pages of searchable text. 40,000 pages of images. Lots more to come. A fantastic resource in the history of science.

The complete work of Charles Darwin

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Two sad things somewhat spoil this collection for me:

  • There is a dubious assertion of copyright over most of the materials in this collection along with restrictions for their use. Such an assertion of copyright is almost certainly meaningless, since the works are themselves in the public domain, and the courts have held that the mere transcription of public domain works by scanning or copying does not represent a significant creative work that is worthy of copyright. They can, of course, assert a “collection” copyright on the set of work as a whole, but the fact that they would try this subterfuge to restrict access to public domain materials is annoying.
  • All the links to the audio files seem broken. (Incidently, these likely do qualify as creative works, as they are read and performed by humans, which can arguably be called a creative act.)< /s> Well, the audio is back. It’s computer generated audio, which I find enormously tiresome to listen to. Ignore what I said about it being copyrightable.

Watch for Nukes!

The first indication that the North Koreans may have tested a nuclear device came from the the seismic data coming from the USGS. I thought that was kind of cool, and I had learned a few things about parsing XML feeds and the like, so I decided to try to make a little gadget which presented the latest earthquake information from the USGS plotted over a Yahoo! Map of North Korea.

Check it out.

Because there is little seismic activity in North Korea, and I needed some test data, I presented a similar feed for California. Try clicking on some of the markers to see information about seismic events (presumably non nuclear).

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Ralph Griswold died

Courtesy of Lambda the Ultimate came the report that Ralph Griswold, creator of the computer languages Snobol and Icon, passed away about two weeks ago. Condolences to his family and friends.

On my shelf I have a copy of his book on the Icon programming language. While it never became widely popular, it had a number of relatively innovative features that influenced later programming languages like Perl and Python. It remains a language worthy of study and consideration. I never learned much about Snobol, I should rectify that.

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