I have a new hero.
I'm currently learning TeX. It is suprisingly difficult to find a good introduction to the basics of TeX. Perhaps because its creator, Donald Knuth, already wrote the definitive work: The TeXbook. His writing style is quite readable and often enjoyable.
Besides creating TeX, Knuth is also the author of The Art of Computer Programming, a series of books American Scientist ranked along side Einstein's work on relativity and Mandelbrot's work on fractals. The man doesn't seem to know how to go only half way on a project.
I think that a couple of quotes from The TeXbook, discussing how TeX handles dimensions while laying out a document, illustrate my point nicely:
TEX represents all dimensions internally as an integer multiple of the tiny units called sp. Since the wavelength of visible light is approximately 100 sp, rounding errors of a few sp make no difference to the eye…The TeXbook by Donald E. Knuth
The units have been defined here so that precise conversion to sp is efficient on a wide variety of machines. In order to achieve this, TEX's "pt" has been made slightly larger than the official printer's point, which was defined to equal exactly .013837 in by the American Typefounders Association in 1886 [cf. National Bureau of Standards Circular 570 (1956)]. In fact, one classical point is exactly .99999999 pt, so the "error" is essentially one part in 108 . This is more than two orders of magnitude less than the amount by which the inch itself changed during 1959…The TeXbook by Donald E. Knuth
If that isn't hard core, I don't know what is. I think I have a new hero.