Feb 2007 BLOG

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Jan 2007
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2007-02-27 Friedman and green
Tom Friedman was at Caltech yesterday and conversed with Nathan Lewis as part of the new Chen-Huang Sustainable Energy Seminar Series. After a stoppy and ummy start, he was his fluent self and spoke at length about energy efficiency and green. I learned about how CO2 is masking the extent of the warming which I had not realized. Nat explained how many nuclear reactors we will need over next few decades to not pollute the planet any more. Increasing use of solar energy is a very commendable thing to do. But what struck me most was in general the scale/magnitude issue. It is not enough to do something individually, or just talk about it. It needs to get bigger!
Thomas Friedman
Nathan Lewis
2007-02-23 Eating your pi
When I drop Jay off at his chess class, I scan through DVD titles at Glendale public library and pick a few that sound most promising. At home I check their IMDB points and watch them only if they pass a threshold. IMDB has an excellent ranking scheme much like google searches ensuring that the ranks are honest (except sometimes when the votes number too few or the movie is too new.

Pi wasn't new (1998), had a good many votes (28K), and a good rating (7.5). One of the discussion titles caught my eye: Pi was an insult to any mathematician. Given below is a gist of part of that discussion. The names below are changed to alphabets in order to obfuscate the (often already false) identity of people involved.

It was claimed by A that it had nothing to do with math, contained just one number which had nothing to do with pi and it was all ridiculous.

B said they were refering to the number psi the so called divine proportion rather than pi.

C said The divine proportion is actually phi, not pi or psi. If you're going to make a correction, get it correct and D added Phi is used to make a perfect composition in the art world I just read the thread of the movie '23' and phi is 2/3. E intervened saying phi is not 2/3 but it is 1.618.

F pitched in that the american short form of mathematics to math is not in tune with the rest of the world which contracts it to maths.

G said it actually had realistic math and that Pi was just an analogy to a ratio for circles and that A was being dense.

H converted the statement of A to a proper mathematical exercise: Premise: The movie had nothing to do with math. Conclusion: The movie was ridiculous. sHe then proceeded to disagree.

J said (because I did not say anything): it was a move (sic.) for mathematicians

It is the fave film of K and sHe feels the mathematical mistakes are deliberate.

L said sHe would have like a movie about math.

M is a mathematician, loves the movie and asks: Can we know the whole world just by knowing math? Is there anything, the physicians call GUI? and adds that this movie is about math and about a question closely related to Godel, Turing and Heisenberg.

N jumps in: A physician is a doctor. You sure mean physicists? And the other thing is called G.U.T., Grand Unified Theory (GUIs go hand-in-hand with computers).

O concluded from the above: I haven't seen this movie, and I was a little suspicious about where the story would go. Now I know that it won't appeal to me so your comment was very helpful.

and on and on she goes. As for me, i just can't wait to see the movie!

2007-02-20 new birds using DNA tests
Using birds as guinea pigs scientists have discovered (invented?) 15 new bird species. Now they want to train their eyes on the rest of life. That is a better aim than wanting us birders to carry DNA guns. The cataloging of life can bring about a star trek like database. We could then move on to outer space.
DNA tests reveals new species
2007-02-06 Dudeney and Gutenburg
Bought a second-hand copy of the wonderful Amusements in Mathematics by H E Dudeney at Brands and discovered that all of it is Gutenberg. Good for the world.
Amusements in Mathematics
Project Gutenberg
Wiki link to Dudeney
2007-02-04 policing the police
Saw a documentary on copwatch. Trying to ensure that cops do not take the law in their own hands - beyond what they are legally supposed to. About the rights of citizens who are being interrogated, arrested as well as by-standards including rights, in most places, to audio- and video-tape proceedings in a fashion that will not interfere with the law.
2007-02-02 most wonderful stories
In his tenth letter to a young mathematician Ian Stewart mentions his idea about how proofs are like stories. They have a plot and they go in to only as much detail as is needed for the plot. Any kind of excess and the proof loses its charm. thats a wonderful way of putting it. I wish I could dabble a bit more in math and take in more of its absract beauty.
Ian Stewart
A few proofs

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