I drove from Liverpool to London this afternoon and was delighted to stumble across Chris Bishop of Microsoft Research in Cambridge who has the honour of being the selected lecturer for the 2008 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures – a 180 year old tradition.
Whilst ably dodging callers to Radio 5 who wanted technical support on Windows XP, Chris came across as a likeable chap and convinced me that I’ll be watching all 5 of the lectures this week on Channel 5 here in the UK. The promise to be both educational and fun as is the Royal Institution website for the lectures at http://www.rigb.org/christmaslectures08/ where each lecture is supported by a fun challenge. For those not able to grab it via Channel 5, you can pre-order a DVD.
Chris will tackle topics such as the speed of computing and how long we can sustain Moores Law – all without the aid of PowerPoint – and with lots of audience involvement. It sounds like a great way to learn about some fascinating topics and hopefully get some children interested in the science of computing. The RI website also includes some terrific links on related aspects of each lecture which I’ve included below.
On a personal note, I’m delighted for Chris and MSR. I was at our labs in Cambridge recently and was shown some of the truly breathtaking work they undertake – the majority of it has no direct relation to Microsoft’s commercial business and it’s something I wish more people were exposed to their work. I think it’d change a few opinions of Microsoft pretty quickly if people could see the impact of this work could have on all of our lives.
Don’t forget, Channel 5 at 19:30 this tonight and for the rest of the week!
Breaking the speed limit
- Does the future of computing lie in DNA?
Information of life (PDF Document 141KB – new window)
- Electrical circuit training
All very logical (PDF Document 163KB – new window)
- A great demonstration of logic gates, using dominoes and Lego
Logic gates using toys (external link)
- Take a look at the inside of a computer
How stuff works – microprocessors (external link)
Chips with everything
- Holiday photos and human fax machines
In the picture (PDF Document 203KB – new window)
- Find out how you’re seeing what you’re seeing right now!
Computer screens and sunglasses (PDF Document 127KB – new window)
- Sandy chips – what microprocessors are really made of and more fantastic computer science fun from CS4FN
From a handful of sand to a fistful of dollars (external link)
- Microchip miniatures – the hidden calling cards of chip designers
The chip collection (external link)
Ghost in the machine
- The computer science behind getting organised
Get it sorted (PDF Document 215KB – new window)
- Squeeze! How to fit all of your MP3s into the palm of your hand
Information salvation (PDF Document 644KB – new window)
- Find out more about digitisation and unravel the mystery of how three hour film epics fit onto a small DVD
More than you think – music (external link)
- Design and create your own interactive stories using the Scratch programming language
Scratch – Imagine, Programme. Share (external link)
Untangling the web
- Protecting your private information online
Keeping secrets secret (PDF Document 2038KB – new window)
- Finding out answers without ever being told
Zero-knowledge games (PDF Document 119KB – new window)
- Code making and code breaking – try these brilliant games to turn yourself into a super sleuth
Cryptokids (external link)
- Email secret messages to your friends
Get thunking (external link)
- Machine learning – using trial and error
Sweet computer (PDF Document 600KB – new window)
- Computer crime fighter
Learning from probabilities (PDF Document 280KB – new window)
- Can you fool the computer, or does it know too much..? The more you ask, the cleverer it gets
20 questions (external link)
- Design a robot and compete in the online Olympics
Sodarace (external link)