Pages tagged “maths”

05 Apr 2021

No power tools or tools kept in this van

Seen on the back of a van a while back: an inverse pedantic notice. The set of all tools includes the set of power tools, right? Save yourself some words! On a Venn diagram, there is nothing in the “power tools” set which isn’t also in the “tools” set. Then again, it might be better represented as an Euler diagram. I particularly like this example of an Euler diagram: British Isles Euler diagram - in fact it was while researching the overlaps between British Isles and United Kingdom that I first entered the set of people who realise that lots of so-called Venn diagrams are actually Euler diagrams.

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22 Nov 2018

More TV tunnels

Thanks to a recent generous gift - I am the owner of an Oculus Go VR headset - and thanks to a recommendation from a friend, I’ve been thinking about TV tunnels again. I was already following Matt Parker, standup mathematician, but when I heard that Matt was publishing videos about the spherical Droste effect, well, I couldn’t resist. These two videos are great fun: definitely best viewed in VR.

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28 Sep 2017

Primal urge

I love this video from Numberphile about a prime number with 1,350 digits (and some other special visual properties). I can’t believe I studied at Trinity Hall for four years and didn’t know about this. A custom prime number with the college emblem “ASCII art”-ed inside it? What could appeal more to my geeky brain? I’m enjoying all the Numberphile videos. Within a very short time the number had been extracted from the video and other clever people had been inspired to post creative and original responses.

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07 Aug 2017

Horizontally Challenged

I like views. On our recent holiday we stayed on top of a hill and spent hours looking out at a particularly nice one. From the photographed bit of Tuscany, the furthest point that can be seen directly is about 27km away: a distant hilltop just visible past the shoulder of a closer slope. I pondered the distance because, just before going on holiday, I had discovered beyond horizons, a website dedicated to photography of very long distances.

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29 Nov 2016

On wiggly lines and being normal

Not too long ago I found myself concentrating on breathing normally. Sitting at the end of a wire, a mask strapped to my face, listening to the hiss of the machine that was keeping me supplied with air, and trying not to be flummoxed by the two life-size glass heads that seemed to be staring at me, all I could think was “how do I breathe, normally?” If someone asks you to “walk normally” or “hold a smile” - or even enquires what you do with your thumbs when you’re running - a sort of macroscopic Heisenberg Principle comes into play.

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20 Aug 2013

Unsearchableness and homochirality

Is there a word for things whose existence is hard to uncover by keyword search? I’m thinking about concepts, or solutions to problems, that aren’t too tricky to describe in words, but are difficult to find in a computerised system. For example, having an amateur interest in zoology, I find organisms like sea gooseberries interesting. Taxonomically, they branch off high up in the “tree of life” - but they’re pretty common, occurring all round the world in decent numbers.

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19 Sep 2012

Pricing a raffle

I’m selling our campervan. It’s not going to raise a lot of money. But Matthew at work suggested a novel way of selling it, which got me thinking. “Have a raffle,” he said, “two quid a ticket. Bet you could sell loads.” I’m not sure about the legalities, and I am sure it’d be tricky to achieve a few hundred, small-but-traceable transactions (without sitting in town selling tickets), so I’m going to stick to the more conventional methods.

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