Aug 2008 BLOG

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2008-08-29 Two kinds of Olympics

India did not finish last in the Beijing Olympics if you go by the tally. In fact, they even bagged an individual gold (Well done, Bindra). A first. But if you take something like a ratio of the individuals in the country, then it is clear that they finishing with 1 gold and 2 bronze is like finishing last.

Take, on the other hand the recently concluded Second International Olympics of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Indonesia. India not only grabbed more medals there (than in Beijing) but actually topped.

I do not know what to make of it. Another item to add to the list of contradictions? Or just an indication that we are moving farther from the field (barring that silly delightful game of cricket)?

2008-08-18 Apples to apples

Played this interesting game last night. Its a humorous card game where psychology of other players and your understanding of it comes in. You have to match things and descriptions using a limited number of cards available to you and then the judge picks the best match.

Apples to Apples
2008-08-16 Sporadic group M12 puzzle

I still vividly remember first reading about sporadic groups in a sunday edition of Times of India a couple of decades back and being suitably impressed by the oddity without realizing at all what that meant. Frankly, the article was a bit vague and it seemed as if these groups are oddballs in that they do not satisfy certain advanced group properties rather than the fact that they do not neatly fit in the families most other groups nicely fit. I also remember going around in that smallish town of Chandrapur trying to find out more about sporadic groups and drawing a blank (except a little bit in the Dictionary of Mathematics by James and James - my handy companion at that time).

To cut a long story short, when I saw s recent scientific american article not just mention sporadic groups but have puzzles based on them, I had to jump in and read it and try my hand at the puzzles.

The M12 puzzle involves one having to move numbers around in order to get them in the right order. The interesting part being that each move (even compound) results in moving at least 8 of the 12 numbers. It was fun doing the M and I combos (described in the article and puzzle link) that bring about interesting patterns. M and I happen to be the generator of the group. I was immediately connecting the puzzle to all sorts of things like the MIU-puzzle, the pigeon-hole trick about identifying 4 face down cards out of 10 etc. Are those related? Perhaps no, but I don't know.

I did discover on the net the Mathematical Blackjack based on M12 though. Mysteries abound.


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