John Walker – Renaissance Man

John Walker – Programmer (and a whole lot more)

I was doing some sorting and cleaning of old material on my personal computer recently and found myself looking at a link to one of the first websites I accidentally discovered many moons ago. Those of you who know me know I have struggled with losing weight throughout my life. I was searching for something to inspire me when I stumbled across a link to a book called The Hacker’s Diet. It was written by John Walker, one of the first computer virus writers and the founder of Autodesk and coauthor of AutoCAD. In it, he shares a scientific approach to weight loss and maintenance.

As successful as Mr.Walker was in his career as a software pioneer, he also found himself overweight and suffering from a lack of attention to this most obvious problem. The book was fascinating to me because I had never considered diet and weight loss in such an objective way (i.e. as a science problem to be worked out logically). Alas, while Mr. Walker successfully applied this discipline, I did not. I did however discover his website, which I still visit regularly.


John Walker - Fourmilab Logo

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Lyrics from “High Hopes” by: Sammy Cahn


The “Index Librorum Liberorum” or for those of you not sufficiently up on your Latin – “List of Free Books” located at www.fourmilab.ch, is an awesome website for the science enthusiast. It is what happens when a great mind is free to follow its fancy and indulge in intellectual discovery for the pure joy of it.

 

You will find a large trove of in-depth articles on a wide range of topics from recipes and politics to travelogues and speculative physics. Mr. Walker has that rare gift (or perhaps madness) that compels him to thoroughly investigate everything that captures his interest. Lucky for us, he also documents that process so we can learn from his careful method and thoughtful presentation. I have spent many hours reading from his clear, funny and always informative prose on topics I never thought I would find interesting or even able to understand. Mr. Walker knows how to make advanced chemistry and astrophysics accessible and fun – no small task. His mastery of so many topics makes him a modern day renaissance man and man of science of a type becoming all too rare in a world of instant experts.

John Walker South Pole
John Walker at the South Pole (2013)

 

Follow along and view numerous photo’s from Mr. Walker’s recent South Pole Expedition. Maybe the “Ferengi Rules of Acquisition” for budding capitalists are more your speed or a dedicated effort to “Reverse-Engineer Blue Cheese Salad Dressing“. Don’t let the simple frame layout of the site fool you. There is something fun and interesting under every link at Fourmilab. Visit soon – your brain will thank you!