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Mathematics is the language of nature

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 24-May-2010 by asqui

11:15, restate my assumptions:

  1. Mathematics is the language of nature.
  2. Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers.
  3. If you graph these numbers, patterns emerge.

Therefore: There are patterns everywhere in nature.

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The Man with the 7-Second Memory

 1 Comment- Add comment Written on 01-Jan-2010 by asqui

Meet Clive Wearing; a man with the worst case of amnesia ever known. Twenty-five years ago he lost his memory and now his wife, Deborah, is the only person he recognises. He is constantly under the impression that he has just come out of a lengthy period of unconsciousness, so every time he sees her he greets her with the enthusiasm of being reunited after years apart.

Clive Wearing has a neurological disorder called anterograde amnesia which is a condition that doesn't allow new memories to transfer into long-term memory. This means that he will never remember anything since his incident, similar to Leonard in the movie Memento.

On March 29, 1985 Clive came home with a very bad headache which wouldn’t go away for days, and wouldn’t respond to any medication. By the fourth day he had a high fever, and forgot his daughter’s name; by the fifth day he was very delirious.

Clive had contracted the Herpes simplex virus which attacked his brain and caused damage to the left and right temporal lobes as well as the frontal lobe. The temporal lobes contain a structure called the hippocampus which is involved in memory function, and in Clive’s case the hippocampus has almost certainly been destroyed in both sides of the brain.

Before his illness, Clive was a successful musicologist and conductor. One of the few things that have survived intact is his ability to read music and play the piano.

Now his memory-span is so short that he will often forget the beginning of a sentence before you have completed it. Or he may begin answering a question but forget the question before he’s finished with his answer. It’s not uncommon to forget what you ordered for lunch by the time the food is served; but Clive additionally doesn’t remember which flavours belong to which foods.

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Happy Holidays

 2 Comments- Add comment Written on 12-Dec-2009 by asqui

Happy Holidays from the Straight No Chaser men’s a capella, Indiana University.

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Alex Roy — Transcontinental Driver

 1 Comment- Add comment Written on 04-Mar-2009 by asqui

After participating in a couple of Gumball 3000 events (a 3000 mile rally where nice cars race through the streets of numerous countries for a week or so) Alex Roy decided to drive across the USA, nonstop, in a record time of 31 hours 7 minutes, in a largely modified BMW M3. 90.1mph average speed; top speeds of 160mph+.

If you think that’s a little bit reckless, think again… he spent 5 years planning for this with a full team of dedicated people. Did a couple of "low speed" trial runs of the full route, then watched the video footage non-stop in real-time (when's the last time you watched a 30 hour movie non-stop?) to fully learn from the mistakes they made. They had GPS devices, radio scanners, laser jammers, real-time traffic and weather reports, something like seven cameras mounted on the car (including a thermal imaging camera in the front grill feeding a 7-inch dashboard-mounted display… you know, for night driving), and also (now get this) a spotter plane flying overhead.

“If we don’t break [the current transcontinental record] we’re going
to double the fuel-cell capacity and bring two planes next time.”

It all sounds a bit gung ho but it's exactly the opposite. They reviewed driver transcripts from similar things that had been done previously so they could learn everything they could. Analysed fuel economies in Excel spreadsheets. Looked up potential speed-trap locations, reviewed low-angle air photographs of the areas, marked them up on their GPS guidance. Looked at traffic laws and maximal jail sentences in each state so they could set the cruise control 1mph below the relevant thresholds. They developed threat analyses and operational protocols that dictated what should be done in various situations.

These people are, basically, insane.

Here's an informative presentation Alex did at Google to promote his book.

(Just wait until he breaks out the full post-mortem analysis of how they
nearly got pulled over for dangerous driving, complete with Google Earth
3D fly-by view of the relevant highway junction, vehicle positions, and
conclusions that both they and the police made several mistakes.)

Alex Roy clearly subscribes to the policy that "If you're gonna do it right you've gotta do it hard-core."

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Got Backups?

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 03-Sep-2008 by asqui

The Tragic Incompleteness of Perfect Backup

Found on MakeUseOf.

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Lawyer Speak

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 31-Jul-2008 by asqui

I'm sure this must mean something, but I can't work out what:

"There are excepted from the effect of registration all estates, rights, interests, powers and remedies arising upon, or by reason of, any dealing made in breach of the prohibition or restriction against dealings therewith inter vivos contained in the lease."

Could one being whether a member of this planetary system or otherwise though generally referenced with the nomenclature including but not limited to "solicitor" or "lawyer" or "barrister" possibly conceive a selection of words and word order and general phrasing as to cause greater confusion to the lay reader or readers than the selection of words and word order and general phrasing as witnesseth in the paragraph herinabove? (Preferably with the containment and inclusion of words suchas: whereupon, hereinabove, hereinbelow, hereunto, witnesseth, whereof, and omgthereforebbqwtf)

I can understand that a watertight contract may inevitably be confusing, but I don't think that the Shakespearian tint and run-on sentences help the clarity.

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"Labels" by Louis De Bernieres

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 19-Jul-2008 by asqui

LabelsLabels, by Louis De Bernieres, is a short story about a man who gets caught up with an obsession of collecting the labels from tins of cat food. Entirely random though it may be, it gradually ruins his life.

With only one or two dozen (small) pages of writing this was a refreshing break from Branson's 600 page monolith.

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Hair Hats

 5 Comments- Add comment Written on 12-Jul-2008 by asqui


Got Fashion? Get a Hair Hat!

It's art!

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The Light Is Better Here

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 24-May-2008 by asqui
Nasruddin was found by his neighbor looking in the street for something.
"What are you looking for," asked the neighbor.
"I'm looking for my key," said Nasrudin.
"Where did you lose it?"
"In my basement."
"Then why are you looking for it here?"
"The light is better here."
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Chess boxing

 2 Comments- Add comment Written on 19-May-2008 by asqui

Chess Boxing"Chess boxing is a hybrid sport which combines the sport of boxing with games of chess in alternating rounds."

And I'm not even kidding. Web 2.0 mashups have entered the sports arena.

Who said chess isn't a real sport?

"Competitors may win by knockout, checkmate, a judge's decision or if their opponent's twelve minutes of chess time elapses."

Even Chris Morris couldn't have conceived of this!
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When is a Triangular Number a Square Number?

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 14-May-2008 by asqui

Whilst watching a Swan Lake ballet at The Barbican Centre a couple of months ago (and confirming my suspicions that ballet is not very captivating to me) I was distracted by the geometrical formations that the ballerinas took on — in one sequence they were neatly arranged in a triangular layout, and then quickly moved into a square layout.

That was my cue to set about trying to deduce which triangular numbers also happen to be square numbers (and therefore work out how many ballerinas were on stage, without actually counting them) with the additional challenge of doing it all in my head, whilst continuing to watch the performance. (I figured that whipping out a notebook might be considered somewhat unsavoury, and more importantly, I had omitted to bring one with me!)

I managed to conclude, during the course of the performance, that the first integer greater than one to be a triangular number as well as a square number is 36. However, the number of ballerinas present in the curtain call were far fewer. I must have made a mistake in my observations somewhere — perhaps the square and/or triangle were incomplete? Perhaps there were 15 in the triangle and then an extra one sneaked in to make 16 for the square?

Later in the week I had a crack at coming up with a general solution.

Triangular and Square Numbers

As you can see, I didn't get very far (perhaps my mathematics is getting a little rusty through disuse) but a quick brute-force in Excel came up with the following results:

Numbers which are both square and triangular:


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Monowheel Lowrider

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 09-May-2008 by asqui

I'm not convinced this is going to work so well:
Ben Wilsons Monowheel
I guess it doesn't matter if it works... it's art:

"The XXIst Century Man exhibition,
curated by Issey Miyake, is in Tokyo
at 21_21 Design Sight until July 6."

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Weird Behaviour

 2 Comments- Add comment Written on 30-Apr-2008 by asqui

In the interest of violating cultural constraints, 207 people conspire to freeze in suspended animation for five minutes amidst the hustle and bustle of New York's Grand Central Station.

It's amusing to see the onlookers who aren't in on the joke hypothesising about what is going on and why they are doing this.

Apparently they did another one of these tonight at Liverpool St. Station.

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Tim Ferriss on Freestyle Public Speaking

 1 Comment- Add comment Written on 20-Apr-2008 by asqui

Tim FerrissTim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week (still on my reading list) presents an unusual public-speaker's dilemma:

What happens when you say “laugh at all my jokes and I’ll breakdance for you at the end”—and someone calls you on it?


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Body-Technology Interface

 0 Comments- Add comment Written on 18-Apr-2008 by asqui

Body-Technology Interface
"Laptop interface for privacy, warmth, and concentration in public spaces."

(More information and photos.)

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You've Got Mail

 1 Comment- Add comment Written on 10-Apr-2008 by asqui
Youve Got Mail
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Dodgy Builders

 1 Comment- Add comment Written on 02-Apr-2008 by asqui

Here's a sight I bet would freak you out if you weren't expecting it!

Builders clambering into back garden to get access to roof Builders clambering into back garden to get access to roofBuilders clambering into back garden to get access to roofBuilders clambering into back garden to get access to roof

(Luckily I was expecting it.)

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Creative ways to serve ice cream

 5 Comments- Add comment Written on 23-Mar-2008 by asqui
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