Fridaygram: Course Builder, superhydrophobia, Easter Bacon

September 14, 2012

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By Scott Knaster, Google Developers Blog Editor

This summer Google ran an online course called Power Searching with Google. The course was so popular that Peter Norvig and the Research at Google people who created it decided to generalize the course code and framework, and make it into Course Builder, an open source project that’s now available. The Research team points out that Course Builder is an experiment, and there’s a lot of work still to be done, but if you’re interested in this approach, you can join a bunch of schools that are considering using Course Builder.

Speaking of research, you might think that we have little new to learn about the very basic task of boiling water, but of course that’s not true. Researchers at several schools around the world recently collaborated to produce a way to boil water without producing bubbles.

This discovery has many potential practical applications. It could be used to prevent vapor buildup that can cause explosions, or could even lead to discoveries of ways to reduce surface drag or prevent frost from forming. But most important, it’s really, really cool.

Finally, here’s a fun new Easter egg (or is it a valuable new search tool?). In a Google search box, enter the name of your favorite actor, followed by Bacon number. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Bacon number phenomenon, you can find out more.) Maybe you’ll get some ideas about movies to see over the weekend!

Each week our Fridaygram presents cool things from Google and elsewhere that you might not have heard about. Some Fridaygram items aren't related to developer topics, but all of them are interesting to us nerds. For extra credit this week, you can check into the small set of people who have a defined ErdÅ‘s–Bacon number.