Projects


Although my job and my family keep me very busy, I try to find time to work on personal projects outside of work-hours.  These are almost always technical in nature, and, although they tend to be driven by my own interests, I always have an eye on using them to expand my technical skills.

In the following you can find some details on the intent of several of these projects, and their current status.

Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and so much more

IMG_2874As both a hobbyist and a professional, I am tremendously excited by the revolution in cheap, accessible, “hacker”, electronics kits such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino.  As can be seen by my blog, my current interests focus very strongly on exploring the capabilities of these.  I have a strong belief that these little devices can revolutionise the way that modern science is carried out and the way that engineers think about their projects.

I am working in several directions pseudo-simultaneously, and will maintain a list of links at the following page:

http://www.smolloy.com/professional/microcontrollers-mini-computers-and-more/

Ontology Logs

In 2012, David Spivak and Robert Kent introduced the idea of Ontology Logs (ologs) as a tool for the representation of knowledge.  The idea for ologs developed out of Category Theory, however the authors, particularly Spivak, has argued convincingly that they are very useful for disciplines well beyond pure mathematics.

Some early experiences with ologs in my work, and in working with a social scientist from a nearby university, demonstrated their power, and led to the development of this project.

My intention is to develop an olog representation of a generic, large-scale, particle accelerator, and to use this to come up with a algorithm to calculate the resilience of these machines against failure of individual functions.  The challenge in this is to write down an olog that is sufficiently generic to represent a broad class of accelerators, while maintaining enough detail to allow detailed calculations to be made.

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I own a 10″ Dobson (Skywatcher Newtonian) and a motorised equatorial plane on which it sits.  The simplicity of the Dobsonian mount meant that more of the money spent on this telescope went into the quality of the optics, rather than mount, resulting in a very good optical system for a relatively low cost.

Although the viewing conditions are far from perfect due to my location at the edge of a large town (and very close to two large cities), as well as direct illumination from a streetlight, I have had some considerable luck in observing a significant number of interesting objects.  I much prefer observing directly at the eye-piece, instead of via the screen of a computer, and so do not have an extensive image gallery.  Despite this, I have hacked together a little digital imaging system by deconstructing a commercial webcam for installation directly onto the eye-piece.

Due to the lack of a well defined end goal, this is less of a project, and more of a hobby, allowing me to follow my childhood passion of exploring the night sky.