Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ruby climbs up a notch on TIOBE index

On my September 14 blog, I wrote that Ruby had risen to a rank of 10 on the TIOBE index of programming languages.

On the November, 2007 TIOBE index, Ruby climbed another notch to number 9.

According to their web site, the TIOBE index ratings "are based on the world-wide availability of skilled engineers, courses and third party vendors."

This rating system seems to overlook one of the strongest features of Ruby: its appeal to non-programmers. Ruby is a language that unskilled engineers can use productively. One of the themes of my Specified Life blog site is that biomedical research requires a little bit of programming (usually less than a dozen lines of Ruby code) to perform common computational tasks related to data organization, data sharing and data analysis. Ruby empowers non-programmers (people who do not identify themselves as programmers) to perform the common computational tasks in their fields.

Still, it is re-assuring to know that Ruby is moving up as a language used by professional programmers.

- Jules Berman

Science is not a collection of facts. Science is what facts teach us; what we can learn about our universe, and ourselves, by deductive thinking. From observations of the night sky, made without the aid of telescopes, we can deduce that the universe is expanding, that the universe is not infinitely old, and why black holes exist. Without resorting to experimentation or mathematical analysis, we can deduce that gravity is a curvature in space-time, that the particles that compose light have no mass, that there is a theoretical limit to the number of different elements in the universe, and that the earth is billions of years old. Likewise, simple observations on animals tell us much about the migration of continents, the evolutionary relationships among classes of animals, why the nuclei of cells contain our genetic material, why certain animals are long-lived, why the gestation period of humans is 9 months, and why some diseases are rare and other diseases are common. In “Armchair Science”, the reader is confronted with 129 scientific mysteries, in cosmology, particle physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. Beginning with simple observations, step-by-step analyses guide the reader toward solutions that are sometimes startling, and always entertaining. “Armchair Science” is written for general readers who are curious about science, and who want to sharpen their deductive skills.