Pupils, code readability and serious robotics

Once I was tinkering with an anthropomorphic robot. I got to the point where I rewrite almost all code from c++ to python. A colleague (more physicist than a programmer) after this trick very quickly (literally in a month) sketched and tested algorithms, and also wrote a graduate work on these algorithms. Readability is an important thing.
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Unclear errors when working with ROS

1. The first place i am giving to a bunch of ROS with Gazebo (this is a simulator). The script is as follows: by the launch file the gazebo starts with the needed world, the robot model are spawned there, and then the controllers are started. You sit in the console, start the launch, look rostopic list – everything is fine, but when trying to listen any topic (rostopic echo /joint_states) – silence.
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