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One of the 99%ers. Stu Savory
Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, geocacher and blogger living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any goddamn questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Geocaching Stats

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Monday, January 30, 2012

Schrödinger's Sudoku ;-)

For those of you for whom regular sudoku is too difficult, I introduce - new for 2012 - binary sudoku, especially suitable for computer geeks ;-)

And if that isn't enough of a simplification, here's the quantum-mechanical version for physicists like Sheldon Cooper : Schrödinger's Sudoku ;-)

If you don't understand my quantum mechanics joke, click here for edification.

Update for Jan 31st : (H/T to Ivan's comment, below)
This is the Quantum Entanglement version [by Einstein, Podolsky & Rosen] ;-)

Comments (10) :
Brian (UK) grinned "Nice one, or not, as the case(sic!) may be ;-)" P'r'aps ;-)
Gudrun (D) said "I didn't understand the footnote???" Cats have nine lives, Schrödinger postulates a 50% survival rate for his Gedankenexperiment. So I calculated back to what the survival chances would have to be for each of the nine lives (~92.6%) for the end-result after 9 lives to be 50%. 2geeky4U? ;-)
Cop Car (USA) wrote "I forwarded your Sudoku posting to my husband - the Sudoku fan in our house. Myself? I had to do a mental head-scratch to recall the whole point of a Sudoku. Only then could I laugh at your puzzles. They were well worth the mental head-scratch!" Imagine Schrödinger's "Go" ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) retorts "And I have a beautiful one for you, but upon reflection more readily understandable..."

Renke (D) objected " But but but - the state of Schrödinger's cat is trivalent* (at least according to Terry Pratchett) : 'Technically, a cat locked in a box may be alive or dead. You do not know until you look. In fact, the actor simply open the box determines the state of the cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be that, these were alive, dead and terribly angry.'
*) Nerdy side-note: Bool defined as True, False, FileNotFound is one of the greatest daily WTF's _evar_ !
;-) I always wrote : defBool=Schrödinger's Cat ;-)
Ivan (Moscow) asks "Do you have an EPR version?" See update above. Thanks for the inspiration ;-)
Cop Car (USA) wrote about the update "I do like your addition. Quite funny! Because my activities in the past five or six years have centered on disaster response, EPR = emergency preparedness and response (or planning and response, depending). Why do I not think that is what your EPR means?" Ivan's EPR is an abbreviation for Einstein, Podolsky & Rosen.
Jenny (Ibiza) complains about the update "You are going to have to explain that vveerryy slowly : OTOH, don't bother" Cats can teleport instantaneously? But that's neither here nor there ;-)
Renke (D) picked up the ball and ran with it : "Attached you'll find my proposal: quantum entangled binary Sudoku :)"

Renke (D) sent an addendum : "I slept really bad as I forgot yesterday to include the most weird attribute of the EPR paradox: Einstein's Geisterhafte Fernwirkung."

Nice! When I drew Garfield in TWO boxes (see above), that is what I was thinking of, also in my mini-explanation for Jenny after her comment :-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fire extinguisher tips

What an incredible mess!

For thirty-plus years I flew the obligatory fire-extinguisher around in my airplane, tightly affixed under the front passenger seat where they belong, and - thankfully - never had occasion to use it.

Similarly for nigh on fifty years I drove the (voluntary but advisable(?)) fire-extinguisher around in my car, and - thankfully - never had occasion to use it, not even to help another driver. So, needless to say, it soon got relegated into the boot (amer.=trunk), where it would be less than useful had anyone ever rear-ended me :-(

In this house I have an annually refreshed fire-extinguisher on each floor (smoke alarms too) and - thankfully - never had occasion to use them.

But I've just seen a fire-brigade demo of extinguisher use. What an incredible mess (my) powder-based extinguishers leave behind! So here I'm passing on a tip. Prymos produce one-shot aluminium spray-cans of extinguishing foam. Much cleaner! Get yourselves the "Universal" version, 580ml of foam for €30. There are wall- and car-mounts available too. It can cope with frying-pans, garden grills, curtains, paper, Xmas tree candle accidents and even electrical gear (keep at least a yard away from those!).

And while we are on the subject of "what an incredible mess!", I wonder if the Greeks had a word for theirs :-( Certainly, no fire extinguisher - aka IMF or EU bailout - will be large enough. Bite the bullet, Greeks, and drop out of the Euro! Then, after a decade dodekathlon of cleaning the Augean stables, you may reapply - next time on honest terms, liars!

And then there is Christian "What an incredible mess!" Wulff :-(

Comments (8) :
Eddy (UK) complains "Your (sic!) stooping to doing adverts in your blog now? Shame on you!" Not as such, no. I'm just passing on experience so that others may benefit from it too. That's how we all learn... :-)
Gudrun (D) grins "Your grumpiness is showing . . . again ;-)" That's me :-) Tomas (B) adds "Gudrun is right. Write something funny & inventive again..."
Brian (UK) opines "I like it best when you rant :-)" Oh, shut up, all of you! Jenny (Ibiza) chides "That wasn't very polite :-(" Self-referential sarcasm :-)
Schorsch complains bitterly "Now those goddamn OUR-money-stealing Greeks have been caught lying AGAIN!" Chuck 'em out of the EU asap!!!
Pergelator (USA) wrote "I used to keep fire extinguishers at my house. I'm not sure if I have them any more. My view is that people who think a fire extinguisher would be a good item to have around are also careful enough to avoid having a fire. There is a saying making the rounds these days that 'there are no accidents'. Shit happens for a reason. People are careless, equipment is broken, not properly repaired, or not repaired at all. People shirk their responsibilities. Occasionally there is a real accident, where everyone was following all the rules, and the equipment was in good order, but some unforeseen circumstance arises and everything goes sideways. But these are very rare, much rarer than the typical drunken cock-up. Like one in a million. These are the ones that make the news. Except someone did foresee the possibility, but it was discounted as too improbable, or more likely, it was too expensive to implement the necessary precautions." Terry Pratchett claims (999,999 times?) that things with a one in a million chance always HAPPEN ;-)
Meg (UK) asks teasingly "How likely is it that your article preceding this one about fire extinguishers was about Burns? ;-)" C.Jung calls it synchronicity :-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Burns Nicht, the nicht, ye ken

S cotsmen (and women) across the world will be celebrating the birth of our national poet, Robbie Burns, with a traditional Burns Dinner this evening(25th), piped steaming Sonsie face & Uisghe included.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
and some wad eat that want it,
but we hae meat and we can eat,
and sae the Lord be thankit.

Unfortunately, I have an inflamed gut this year - this ageing, deteriorating body seems to stumble singlehandedly (sic!) from one problem to the next :-( - and the medications that I am now taking preclude haggis-eating and the consumption of alcohol. So line one of the Selkirk Grace (see above) applies to me; no Uisghe for me the nicht :-(

However, that is not to say that my blogreaders should not enjoy something Scottish today. And so - with a wee grin - I pass on a joke about a scottish golf caddy that my good friend and blogreader Klaus sent me from Alaska, a US state with predominently Republican voters :-

During his golfing vacation at Martha's Vineyard, US President Obama had been slicing off the tee on every hole. He asks his Scottish caddy if he has noticed any obvious reasons for his poor tee shots, to which the caddy replies :- "Aye, there's a piece of shyt on the end of yer driver. " The President picks up his driver and cleans the club face, at which point the caddy says :- "Nae, laddie, the ither end."

Comments (2) :
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "Sonsie face?" It means sunshine (smiling) face. Burns used it to describe The Haggis.
Ted (Kansas, USA) grinned "Klaus' joke is so good, I'm so stealing it!!!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dextrous update :-)

H ad the stitches removed from my right hand yesterday. All but one had held, and the OP-wound has healed together despite that one failed stitch. Lo and behold, I can use my hand again, painlessly :-)

The skin around the OP-cut is hard in places, pink and puffy in others, but all the fingers and thumb move as they should. Almost. The thumb tip currently only bends down 80° (the left thumb 120°, for comparison) but that'll improve with exercise, I'm told. And it's already strong enough torquewise to turn a key in a lock. So thankyou surgeon, for fixing my hand for me :-)

Comments (2) :
Schorsch (D) asked "So we can expect to see you biking again soon?" Another fortnight, I guess. Then watch your mirror, lad! :-)
Mary (UK) smiled "So few people say 'thankyou' these days! Yes, I am grateful indeed. Now I just need my gut trouble to clear up :-)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Multi-Culti Shakespeare

Starting in three months time (april), the Globe theatre in London (UK) will be doing a potentially interesting experiment. As you may know - at least if you are a Brit - Shakespeare wrote 38 plays. In my student days I made a special effort to go see all of them, albeit in the Bard's English. Now the Globe theatre will be showing all 38 plays, but in 38 different languages! They have engaged playing companies from around the world to play one each, each in their national language. Depending on which languages they have chosen, I could attend between 3 and 6 of them. But I doubt if there is any one person who could understand all 38 (e.g. one of them - Hamlet - is in Lithuanian). However, if you a foreigner living in London, this would be the ideal chance to go see Shakespeare in the historic Globe theatre, spoken in your mother tongue. I hope that MacBeth will be done in Scots or Gaelic ;-)

Of course there may be some translation issues, for example when I say "Dépaysement (F) overcomes me, as does Duende (E). These are two words for which there is no equivalent in English (Duende (spanish) means something like "the mysterious power that a work of art has to move a person deeply"). They have got me wondering whether there are words in Shakespeare's plays that are untranslateable into other languages. Tartling, I introduce the first actor to play the ghost of Hamlet's father...

Of course, Shakespeare wrote far more than just plays. For example, take up the King James' bible. Turn to psalm 46. Count in 46 words from the beginning and write that word down. Now count back 46 words from the end of psalm 46 and write that word down too. What have you got? "shake", "spear" :-) Historically, Elizabethan spelling was very erratic by twenty-first century standards. Indeed, there are some ten contemporary literary references to "Shak Speare", which is how the illustrious bard signed his will(sic!). Count the letters: 4 and 6, as in 46. Coincidence? ;-)

FWIW, yes, we have seen Roland Emmerich's 2011 movie "Anonymous" :-)

Go for it, resident Londoners, this is your heads-up!

Comments (3) :
Renke complained "You're not very service-orientated, at least you should link the homepage of the multi-lingual Shakespear project. Regarding your tri-language sentence: is the translation of "dépaysement" as "Fremdsein" or "Umgebungswechsel" adequate?" Mea culpa, link inserted at the start of my article. However, I feel "dépaysement" is more like the feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country, neither homesickness nor Heimweh(D) nor Fremdsein(D) cover it, it is more attached to a sudden appreciation of a cultural difference. For a Bavarian, that would be like eating white sausages outside Bavaria, I suppose ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "Tartling?" Ooops, my bad, that is a Scots word that doesn't exist in any other language I know, let alone English. It is the act of hesitating while introducing a person because you’ve forgotten their goddamn name, I intended it as a joke here and forgot that it wasn't an English word.
Geoff (GBM) asks rhetorically "I wonder if Valentino Rossi knows that coincidence in Psalm 46?" I doubt it, afaik he adopted 46 as his racing number because his father used it. His dad was also a MC racer, in days of yore.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why can't Johnny do Math?

"Confront the difficult when it is still easy; accomplish the great task by a series of small acts." - Tao Te Ching.

Stella Baruk, a french researcher at IREM in Grenoble, investigated in 1980 primary school children's capabilities in arithmetic. The results are shocking. Given the question "A farmer has 26 sheep and 10 goats. How old is the farmer?", three quarters of the children answered "36 years old". They were doing an addition test and so added 26+10=36 (correctly) without realising that it was a nonsense question. 10 years later, researchers at the TU Dortmund simplified it to "A farmer aged 27 has 26 sheep and 10 goats. How old is the farmer?", and still children were answering 36, even though they had been told the correct answer (27). Interestingly, the proportion of children doing the addition increased with their age (10% of kindergarten children, 30% of 7 year olds, 54% of 8 year olds and 71% of 9 year olds). Obviously, the children have been performing tasks by rote instead of asking themselves if their method is appropriate. Drawing the consequence, an institution has now been set up to improve the way maths is taught in schools, by training the maths-teachers differently.

That said, how would you cope with these four exercises (for 14 year olds):-

The farmer is twice as old as the difference between the number of his sheep and his chickens. The number of his sheep and his chickens is unknown, but we do know they have 40 heads and 100 legs in total. How old is the farmer?

For lunch, I ate a cylindrical meal of average height A and diameter 2*Z. Calculate the volume of my meal. And can you now tell me what I ate?

Noah, an accomplished carpenter, built the ark for pairs of animals. When the waters subsided, he said to all the animals "Go forth and multiply!". Two of the snakes objected, saying "We can't multiply, we're adders". What did Noah do?

What is interesting about the square at the top of this article?

And what we learn from these exercises is that we have to teach children how to select an appropriate method to solve their problems. And also, to think outside the box!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Day After...

Comments (1) :
Bob (Canada) asks "Why are you posting that a day late?" Because yesterday I wrote about how society copes with people making illegal copies of physical objects which are worth something. It was my intention to get y'all thinking about how to cope with copies of non-physical objects regardless of worth.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Less forged Euro notes last year :-)

FWIW, less Euro notes were found in Germany to be forged last year; about 39,000 as opposed to about 60,000 in 2010 and 52,500 in 2009. Their value dropped to 2.1 Million from 3.4 million the previous year, a saving of 1.3 million Euros. I wonder what the (police) anti-forgery efforts cost?

That averages to only 5 forged notes per 10,000 residents. The trend is away from forged €50 notes (down 50% to 16,587) towards forged €20 notes (up 10% to 14108). Probably because people checked the €50 notes more. I know our local supermarket checks every single one it takes in, using UV.

Here's a link showing you how to detect counterfeit Euro currency.

Here's a link showing you how to detect counterfeit US Dollar currency.

Forged money flooding the market is of course worthless. So by the end of 2012, any notes bearing the word 'dollar' may turn out to be worthless too, given the rate at which the Fed is printing & inflating them; US rating agencies' attacks on the Euro notwithstanding :-(

Comments (1) :
Pergelator (USA) explains "You wonder what the (police) anti-forgery efforts cost? It's like keeping a cat when you have a granary. If the cat is doing his job, the mice are not eating the grain. Feeding the cat is an expense, and given the small amount of grain stolen by the mice this year, probably unnecessary. Whoa [sic!] is he who gets rid of his cat."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Singlehandedly sinister ;-)

A fter friday's OP to unstiffen my right hand I'm now wearing a big tight bandage which immobilises the thumb until the stitches come out next week. So I'm doing things undextrously - aka in a sinister way - only with my left hand, such as pecking out this blog entry. Some simple tasks take two hands, which means that SWMBO has to tie my shoelaces for me as if I were a small child. Now I know why really old folks wear velcro-strap shoes, keeping themselves independent! Other simple tasks need an opposing (& mobile) thumb, again SWMBO has been helping me with buttons, and even holding a pen properly is hard. My sinistral handwriting looks like a drunken spider had fallen into the inkwell and then - after contracting Parkinson's - staggered hiccoughing out across the paper whilst avoiding any horizontal lines. So I'll stick to typing as far as possible and I'm avoiding buttoned clothes. Even my own.

Sinister note : Blogging will remain light for a week. So use your time spared to go piss on an American soldier if you like; no need to kill them first :-(

Comments (3) :
Cop Car (US) wrote "Obviously, if your hand were immobilized long enough, you would learn to do - everything! My great-grandfather became a brakeman (or signalman or something) on a railroad upon return from (what we call) the Spanish-American War. He wasn't very old when he was knocked off of a moving train that, then, ran over him - severing one arm just below the elbow. I, of course, did not know him in those days, being born some 20 years later. There was nothing that the man needed help with. He worked well into his 80s (as a part-time janitor for the Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting hall and as the nearly full-time "all-around-help" in a small warehouse that was next to his house - keeping it open, loading/unloading trucks, running a pickle slicer and packing pickles, etc, when I was around.) He died while I was in my freshman year at college (and my great-grandmother died shortly thereafter); but, he'll not be forgotten as long as I live! Fortunately, you won't need to learn to tie those shoes yourself! Isn't it nice having good help? P.S. I suspect that Grandpa's shoes were easier to tie with one hand as they had hooks around which the laces were passed in the upper four or five positions on his "high-topped" shoes." Wow. What an adaptable man he must have been.
Joe (USA) objected "You try to piss on an American and we'll kill you first!" I've no doubt. If Americans have one special talent - and they do have one - it is unjustified invasion of other countries and killing (inter alia) many innocents there :-(
Dave (USA) asks "What's sinister about a bandaged hand?" It was my little Latin joke. 'Sinister' is Latin for 'left'. It's my right hand that's bandaged, leaving me sinister, OK?

Friday, January 13, 2012

An early start

Been a pretty mild winter this year so far, just +8°C and dry on wednesday. So instead of using my big, faired, heated-grip, heated-seat touring bike (a Yamaha FJR1300), I've been haring around on my naked streetfighter, a Triumph Street Triple, which had been standing in the garage unused for 6 weeks, on the always-lame excuse that "the battery needs to be kept charged, dear" ;-)

As usual there are a couple of things to be aware of when doing this. Vehicles that have been unused for a while tend to lose some air from the tyres. As you can see here, I rode to the gas station in our village to pump up the rear tyre. Remember too, to ride the first kilometer with the brakes slightly applied (see my right hand). This will rub off any fine rust that may have appeared on the discs which can cause brake grabbing and juddering. FWIW, engines emit condensation (not oil smoke) until warm.

And in winter I usually wear that fluorescent over-jacket so that car-drivers - who are not used to seeing bikers in winter - can see me coming earlier.

But today I'm getting a minor operation done to unstiffen my right hand (throttle & mouse hand) so there'll be a short hiatus in the riding - maybe even in the blogging - until the OP wound heals and the stitches come out.

Turned out the hand-surgeon had a long waiting list (months) - but - cannily - I said "Surely there are enough superstitious people who don't want to be operated upon on a Friday 13th, so can you squeeze me in then?" And it was so, and so he could, thus I got a short wait of only a week. Always knew that superstition (in other people) had a good side somewhere ;-)

Comments (8) :
Jenny (Ibiza) wishes "All the best for your hand OP" Thanks, lass!
Renke (erehwemos?) wrote "Great slide show of the Friday 13th party of Chicago's Anti-Superstition Society in 1940. I hope you petted a black cat under a ladder before the surgery :)" No, I put some salt on an insecure Unix password ;-)
Renke (D) replied to my remarks as follows " The value of erehwemos is grubsgua, but (and this is _important_) I'm of European ancestry, not Bavarian - I only work here :D . . ." And on my salty joke about Unix ... "Old-school hardcore Unix or wishy-washy Linux, as of the Gnade der späten Geburt (ref. Helmut Kohl) I know only the latter...". Turns out we both have lived in Konstanz, albeit 30 odd years apart. Small world.
Liz Hinds wrote "How remarkably canny of you! Are people really affected by the date? I guess they must be. Anyway, hope your wrist is back to normal action in no time." Thanks, Liz. I'm pecking this out with my left hand. But right hand stitches come out in 9 days and it should be fully functional in 3 weeks I'm told. Surprisingly little pain from the OP wound :-)
Brian (UK) asks "So how did the OP go?" Thankyou. I have control over my fingers. Thumb not yet, because the bandaging is keeping it deliberately immobile. But when I touch the tip of the thumb, I can feel it, so the sensory nerves are OK. I expect the motor nerves are too, but won't know until next week. Turning into a sinister guy for a week ;-)
Cop Car (US) wrote "Glad to read that your hand is coming along nicely. It's amazing how quickly one can recover from/receive the benefits from such surgery. Keep on keeping on!" Thanks, lass. All according to plan so far :-)
Xtreme English (US) wrote "Hope your hand is better and better as the minutes tick by. So smart (and typical) of you to suggest Friday the 13th for your surgery! ha. Bet the doc rarely gets requests like that! So....Take care, ok? Biking sounds much harder on the hand than blogging. Happy half moon, just about.....XE" Today it is more painful as the bandage loosens. Monday I get a new and tighter bondagebandage from the attractive nurse ;-)
Xtreme English (US) grinned "You and your bondages!" The new bandage is smaller and I can move the top joint of my thumb (which I couldn't before the OP) and waggle the thumb a bit. No force or torque yet, but things are going fast :-) Next check, thursday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Alan Turing Centenary Expo @ HNF

This year is the centenary of the birth of the famous English mathematician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist, Alan Turing. The world's larget computer museum, the HNF has a year-long Turing expo. This will be made up of 10 individual monthly shows, the first of which kicked off on tuesday evening. This month's theme is "The Enigma and the U-boat war", to which kick-off lecture I had an invitation.

The main talk - by Dr.Andrew Hodges of Oxford University (UK) who wrote the authoritative Turing biography - was entitled "Alan Turing - an Enigma". He pointed out, inter alia, that there are almost no artefacts left behind by Turing, he made no notes and in fact the only artefact of his time at Cambridge is a single spoon! And so the expo can only be about his works. For "The Enigma and the U-boat war" the HNF has a pavillion containing the 20 foot working model of the U-boat as used in the movie "Das Boot", a real WW2 German Navy 4-rotor U-boat Enigma, a scaled up working model of a single Enigma rotor to show how they work (FWIW there is a paper of mine in Cryptologia, a West Point publication, showing how to break these with only pencil and paper), the associated radio equipment used in WW2, and finally a 10 minute movie summarizing the U-boat war in the North Atlantic of the early 1940s which also explained in simple terms how the constraint-based Turing Bombe (code-breaking machine) worked.

One of the guests of honour was my friend Rudolf Staritz (see photo left) , now 90 years old, who was on active duty as Admiral Canaris's radio & crypto man in WW 2. So contemporary eye-witness information was available, surely a great pleasure for a historian such as Professor Hodges :-) Looking at the audience, my estimate was an average IQ over 130 even including the WAGs. There was certainly a preponderance of large bald heads, yours truly included ;-)

Next month's show will be about "The code breakers of Bletchley Park" and the NSA (no such agency ;-) have lent the HNF a set of components such as Bombe wheels. BTW, I have been present when Turing's Bombe is running. It being an electromechanical device, the noise is deafening! I pity the poor Wrens who were on duty at Bletchley Park in the forties, I expect many of them went to an early deaf [sic!] ;-)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Life as a 7¾ ft. giant :-(

I am 5 foot 10 tall (180cms), average here in Germany. I have friends here who are under 5 ft 2, which is the average in Indonesia, and others over 6ft 4 (the same as Steven Fry). But a while back I saw Dirk Novitzki - a basketball player - who is 7 feet tall. I felt like a pygmy ! And I learned that there is even a Chinese basketball player - Sun MingMing - who is 7ft 9 tall and wears an appropriate number on his singlet ;-)

So I wondered what it would be like to be so tall in a world built by and for lilliputian people, and decided to emulate it for a day.

Brobdingnagian Me for a day!

My head would have been almost 2 feet higher than usual, chest 18 inches, hips a foot higher and knees six inches higher by proportion.

First off after getting up, I wouldn't fit under the shower. Thus I took a bath instead, blocking off 18 inches thereof using the soap rack. But I was unable to lie down, and had to bathe myself in two parts, either only the upper half or the lower in the water at a time.

Walking around : I had taped some string across the interior doorways of our house two feet below the existing doorjambs (i.e just below shoulder height) so that I would be forced to duck through the doorways. Similarly I'd hung 2 feet of string from ceiling fixtures such as lights, forcing me to walk around them or duck. Otherwise the ceilings were high enough (just) for me to be able to walk upright (that was a relief!).

Next up [sic!] was breakfast. This involved sitting on a chair with my legs under the table. Using a 5 inch footrest to simulate my lower legs being 6 inches longer, I found that my legs would not fit under the table. So I had to splay my knees some 90° apart while keeping my feet together just to get my legs under the table. Getting up from (or down into) this position involved sitting first at 90° to the usual sitting position and then rotating my hips (and the chair) through said 90° :-(

Apropos sitting. I had an old terrace chair in the garage waiting for the garbage collector, so I sawed 12 inches off the legs so the (acute) angle of my knees would be emulated correctly. Getting up from this acute-angled position is rather difficult, let me assure you :-(

After standing and sitting, the third problem position is lying down. I'd put a two foot wide suitcase where my pillow would normally be - in order to simulate being two feet taller than usual. Accordingly, I could either lie with my feet hanging 15 inches over the end of the bed (which is 6 foot six long), or - attempting to keep my feet under the covers of our double bed - I would have had to lie diagonally across the double bed, much to my wife's discomfort. Now I know why giants prefer to have short wives ;-)

As for driving the car, I found I could not shove the seat a foot further back to accomodate legs 12 inches longer. To simulate this, I moved the seat as far forward as possible and found that I would have had to sit splay-kneed because the steering wheel was in the way of my legs. My car has a manual shift, but an automatic would have better for a giant, lessening the seating problem for the left leg anyway. I'd stacked two breakfast-table footrests on the seat just to see what the seating position and the view would have been. My head would have been scraping the roof (of my VW New Beetle) even when held leaning sideways. I could just see out of the very top of the windscreen, albeit at a head angle of 30-45° :-( Needless to say, I didn't actually drive the car in these circumstances, I was just trying it on for size.

I found my bicycle would have been useless, neither the seat nor the handlebars could be raised by a whole foot so that I could use the pedals normally.

Next I sat on one of my motorcycles, to imagine what that would be like. Upright, it was OK, although the knee-angle would have been very acute (simulated by positioning my feet six inches above the regular footpegs). But I would not have been able to get into a racing crouch, there was not enough room for my forearms and my thighs behind the handlebars :-( And apart from that, my upper body would have been so long that my head would have been hitting the speedo and rev-counter :-(

So that would have meant riding the bus into town. Standing, because there was insufficient room between the rows of seats to accomodate my legs. Standing with rounded shoulders and lowered head to avoid banging my head on the roof at every bump in the road :-(

Once at the opticians, it would have proved impossible to screw the adjustable stool low enough for me to look into the eye-testing machine whilst sitting upright. And at the bookstore, they didn't have a copy of "Gulliver's Travels" in stock anyway. So I've ordered Candy Gourlay's book "Tall Story" (ISBN-10: 0385752334), at 304 pages NOT a short story :-)

All said and told, while it was an interesting experiment being a giant for a day, I was glad to return to my lilliputian 5'10" existence.

Poor Goliaths, you have my sympathy :-(

P.S: I'd like to hear from any really tall people out there in the blogosphere and hear about their garguntuan daily problems; mail me pls.

Comments (2)
Biker friend Marion tell me that Pott's amusement park has a brobdingnagian apartment. That is, all the furniture is huge, to show adults how normal furniture appears to a 3-year old. The reverse of Kindergarten furniture in fact.
Anon (D) - 2m tall (6'6") - tells me he has to "duck through DIN-standard doorways (which are 198.5 cms high) and that when making a hotel-booking, I always specify that my bed should have no footboard." BTW, a more recent DIN-standard specifies 211 cms for an alternative 'tall' doorframe height.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An unlikely pair

It only takes a group of just 23 people for there to be a 50:50 chance of two of them sharing the same birthday. Today, those two (famous) people are Elvis Presley and Stephen Hawking (who turns 70 today). Which of those two has influenced your life more? In my case it's Hawking, so I guess that makes me a physics nerd ;-) Evelyn, how about you?

Other famous people sharing a January 8th birthday include David Bowie (65) and Shirley Bassey (75). Those who have to wait until tomorrow are Kate Middleton (turns 30), Jimmy Page (67) and Joan Baez (70). Congrats all.

Comments (3) :
Malcolm (UK) sent a link "Apropos Kate and Elvis : Here's Blackadder organising the King's birthday." Thanks for the Heads Off Up ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) recounts that "Daisy Duck turned 70 on monday too :-)"
Cop Car (USA) wrote "You'd better believe that Prof Hawking has had much more influence on my life. After all, he has a radiation named after him! As a matter of fact, I did not particularly care for Mr Presley's singing when I was a teenager and have never understood the impersonators at all."

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chi-b (3P) meson found at LHC ;-)

David (IL) asked for more science posts and Susan (UK) for more humour, so let's try to please both of them today :-)

Today, I'm telling you about Chi-b (3P), a new exotic particle found at the Large Hadron Collider by the researchers doing the Atlas experiments. The article about this discovery was submitted to arXiv on 21 december 2011, so I'm 2 weeks late reporting it :-( They found the meson Chi-b (3P) by colliding protons. It has a mass of 10.54 Gigaelectronvolts, which makes it about ten times more massive than a proton. The light quarks in a meson move at relativistic speeds, since the mass of the bound state is much larger than the mass of the quark. However, the speed of the charm and the bottom quarks in their respective quarkonia is sufficiently smaller, so that relativistic effects affect these states much less. It is estimated that the speed, v, is roughly 30% of the speed of light for charmonia and roughly 10% of the speed of light for bottomonia such as Chi-b (3P). The computation can then be approximated by an expansion in powers of v/c and v2/c2. FWIW, this approximative technique is called non-relativistic quantumchromodynamics (NRQCD).

Somehow Chi-b (3P) makes me think of the surging GOP presidential runner Rick Santorum . . .

And why? Because it's made of Bottom Quark (and its antiquark) ;-)

Comments (4) :
Cop Car (USA) sighed "Bad, Stu, really, really bad. *snickering while groaning* . . ." Yup, it's not charming, but neither is it strange ;-)
Derek (UK) asks wryly "What did the Higgs (aka the God particle) say about Chi-b (3P) ? 'That's meson!' " Groan, that'd upset the Jesus freaks ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "Over my head. What does quarkonia mean, not in my dictionary?" In particle physics, quarkonium (pl. quarkonia) is the name for a flavorless meson whose constituents are a quark and its own antiquark.
Virginia (USA) complains "That joke stinks, like a fart in an elevator!" You mean perhaps that it's wrong on so many levels? [exsufflation here].

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Forcequake : 6.66 on the Yoda scale :-(

In the force, a disturbance, there has been, Luke. Dark it was, & strong.

Bob Anderson, the british actor, stunt man and ex-olympic fencer who was the man in the Darth Vader suit for the light-sabre fight scenes with Luke & Obi-Wan, died age 89 on new year's day. May the force be with him!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa caucuses winner predicted ;-)

T he GOP (Republican) presidential contender will be the candidate from far Kinell ;-)

The Iowa caucuses are an iterative electoral filter in which residents of the U.S. state of Iowa meet in all of Iowa's 1,784 precincts to elect delegates to the corresponding 99 Iowan county conventions. These then select delegates for both Iowa's Congressional District Convention and the State Convention, which eventually choose the delegates for the presidential nominating conventions (the national conventions). These in turn - together with other states' delegates - then nominate the GOP presidential contender.

A long, drawn-out and in the days of the intertubes unnecessary procedure which will bore us all out of our skulls due to inane pseudo-excited media coverage. And I know the result already! The GOP (Republican) presidential contender will be the candidate from far Kinell.

Still no wiser? Repeat the two underlined words as quickly as possible over and over again for homonymic understanding ;-)

Comments (2) :
Anon (USA) wrote "A surge of Santorum? That'd be hellish :-(" Oh Poop!
John (UK) laughed at the UK press "My favourite headline in this morning's papers - Romney wins, Santorum's behind ;-)" They remembered the comma!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Honours List 2012 :-)

B uckingham Palace has announced The Honours List for 2012 and upon perusal thereof, I find that there are some pleasant surprises in it. Of course there is the usual plethora of MBEs for Community Service and/or Charity Work, and traditionally a comedian gets deservedly knighted for causing HM the Queen to say "We ARE amused".

I do not mean to denigrate either of these, it takes talent to make people laugh and dedication to stick at Community Service and/or Charity Work over decades. I know a couple of MBEs and they are all decent people. However in THIS honours list a number of scientists have been honoured for services to science and I think these six are worth an extra mention.

  • Fields Medallist Professor Simon Kirwan DONALDSON, Royal Society Professor of Mathematics, Imperial College London, knighted for services to Mathematics. See Donaldson's Theorem in gauge theory.
  • Nobel Laureate Professor Andre Konstantin GEIM, Professor of Physics, University of Manchester, knighted for services to Science (aka his work on graphene nanoparticles).
  • Nobel Laureate Professor Konstantin NOVOSELOV, Professor of Physics, University of Manchester, knighted for services to Science (also aka his work on graphene nanoparticles).
  • Professor Alan BUNDY, Professor of Automated Reasoning, University of Edinburgh, CBE for services to Computing Science (aka his AI work on proof-planning, the use of meta-level reasoning to guide proof search).
  • Professor Ursula Hilda Mary MARTIN, Professor of Computer Science and lately Vice-Principal , Queen Mary, University of London, OBE for services to Computer Science (aka her work on formal methods in programming).
  • Jonathan Paul IVE CBE Senior Vice President, Industrial Design, Apple Inc, USA. KBE for services to design (e.g. of iPhone, iPad etc.).

It's good to see brainpower being recognised beyond the sometimes narrow constraints of their specialist fields (pun intended in Donaldson's case ;-)
I suggest you follow the links to learn more about these talented people :-)

Comments (5) :
David (IL) wrote "No, I wanted more about science, not scientists" I like to give recognition where it is due (aka 'shoulders of giants').
Susan (UK) contradicts him, saying "Stick to the humour/sarcasm. BTW, you haven't done a shaggy dog story for a loooong time :-(" And thereby hangs a tail. I'll try to accommodate both of you ;-)
Anon (UK) points out that "...the person honoured 'for services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Young People' is called Wood. C.G.Jung would have a field day ;-)" And the Irish equivalent is in high Dudgeon ;-)
Pergelator wrote "Odd that both characters recognized for their work on graphene nanoparticles are named Konstantin, eh? And Jonathan Paul IVE, is that IVE some Roman numeral? Or is that really how his last name is spelled? And what is it with people having four or five or six names? Is there any good reason for it? Is there an upper limit on what is acceptable? Should there be one? Al Bundy from "Married with Children" got an award from the Queen!?! Surprise!" In the UK there is no legal limit on the number of given names, afaik. I once met a woman scientist from a tiny island in Polynesia who only had one name (as opposed to the usual given name/surname combination). That confuses all government & civil forms & diverse authorities to this day ;-)
Xtreme English wrote "Congratulations to all the math folks who got a medal from queenie!! People like me NEVER get medals for anything. I'm surprised you are not on there. Or were you in years past?" No, but my university friend Peter has an MBE 'for services to industry' and biker friend Helen (who runs a home for the brain-damaged) has an MBE 'for services to mental health'.

23 Recent Writings
FWIW : 23 is the number of the Illuminati, folks ;-)
Schrödinger's Sudoku
Fire Extinguishers
Burns Nicht 2012
Dextrous update :-)
Multi-culti Shakespeare
Why can't Johnny...
The Day After...
Less Euro forgeries
Singlehandedly sinister
An early start :-)
Alan Turing Expo
Life as a giant :-(
An unlikely pair
Chi-b (3P) meson ;-)
Forcequake :-(
Iowa Caucus Winner ;-)
The Honours List :-)
Best of my blog 2011
Atheist Yule Tree
Newtonian Night
Xmas myth, annotated
Clever Design :-)
More old aircraft
House of the Rising Sun
UnHitched :-(
Zombie Explosion? No!
On the shoulders of giants
Oldtimer Training Aircraft
Or a typographical error?

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FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
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