Academics

2014 Afficio Undergraduate Journal

A Comparison of Physical Random Number Generators
Logan Francis (Science)
Good random number generators (RNGs) are required for many applications in science and industry. Random numbers can be created in two ways: with a computer algorithm known as a pseudo-random number generator (PRNG), or by measuring physical phenomena which behave randomly, such as quantum mechanical or chaotic systems. However, PRNGs are deterministic in nature and cannot produce truly random output, while physical RNGs can. Three physical RNGs were constructed: a Chua circuit, an electrical circuit which exhibits chaos; an avalanche circuit, which produces a noisy electrical signal; and a radioactive decay counter. Each RNG produced output in the form of ASCII files containing 0s and 1s. The randomness of the data was assessed using the open source statistical test suite rngtest.

Irish Language Print Culture, 1550-1870
Daniel Giesbrecht (Best Overall Undergraduate Paper, Humanities)
The relative weakness of Irish language print culture was a key contributing factor to what has been described as “one of the most rapid and total language shifts in modern European history.” Despite its status as the oldest living written vernacular language in western Europe, with a rich corpus of extant manuscripts dating back to the seventh century, print in Irish Gaelic was notable for its low output, a situation which persists to this day and which has continued to have a negative effect on language maintenance.

World of Ash: Employing Materiality in The Road
Travis Crowell (Social Sciences)
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) relates a bleak post-apocalyptic vision that elicits a profound sense of loss and oblivion. It isolates its protagonists, a father and son, against a backdrop of ash and grey in a landscape that is blasted and desolate. Humanity’s few survivors wander ruined cityscapes and empty country, a world of orphans after the silencing of culture. In 2009, director John Hillcoat and screen-writer Joe Penhall adapted the novel to film, bringing McCarthy’s nightmare to a more visual medium. Both versions employ material culture, the physical representation of culture, in the construction of a horrific landscape.

What We Choose To Remember: The Human Costs of the Vietnam War
Travis Crowell (Social Sciences)
In the Vietnam War, the United States, a mechanized industrial superpower, brought its full arsenal to bear against the combined guerilla forces (National Liberation Front) and standing army of North Vietnam (NVA). Two decades of escalating warfare resulted in the defeat of the U.S. war machine on foreign soil, a souring of public opinion at home, and the dramatic evacuation of American troops and personnel in spring 1975, preceding the fall of Saigon. The defeat of the modern world’s most powerful empire by a small, former French colony has enthralled historians and military strategists alike (e.g. Summers 1982; Nagl 2002). Missing from many of these analyses, however, is the human cost of the war in Vietnam.