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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 after the death of his old dog, Kosmo, he also has a new bulldog puppy, Clara, in the pipeline for September :-)

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The geographical centre of Europe

Driving south on the A14 through Lithuania on the way to Vilnius, their capital city, we saw a roadside sign pointing to the geographical centre of Europe and decided to go take a look.

The bumpy dirt track took us to the parking lot of a golf course, which, surprisingly, did not belong to Trump.
From there we followed the signs to walk 300 yards to the geographical centre of continental Europe. So it is accessible by road. This is not true of e.g. the UK; the centre of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is offshore, in the middle of Morecambe Bay, approximately 1.5 miles off the coast of Morecambe, Lancashire. If the midpoint method is used, the centre of the USA would probably be in the ocean off the west coast of Canada instead of in South Dakota.

Continental Europe was defined there by its four extreme points :

  • Spitzbergen in the north at 80° 45' N and 20° 35' E,
  • Canary Islands in the south at 27° 38' N and 17° 58' W,
  • The crest of the Ural mountains in the east at 67° 59' N and 66° 10' E,
  • The Azores in the west at 39° 27' N and 31° 16' W
Note that various French and British islands in the Caribbean are excluded as not being "continental".

This put the geographical centre of continental Europe at 54° 54' N and 25° 19' E, depending on the method used for the calculation (Germany has 5 different centre points depending on which method is used, we visited them all on a motorcycle trip last year ;-)

Everywhere, local politicians like to interpret significance of this sort of thing and so there is a plaza with a flagpole for each European country (this will still include the UK, even after Brexit).

Of course, there had to be a statue as well, so taxpayers' money was spent on a large column of white granite with a golden crown of stars on top. The base is inscribed in Lithuanian & English (for us foreigners).

Given the imprecision of the (French scientists') method (e.g. they forgot Malta) the centre could be anywhere within a kilometer of this. Furthermore, if a different method was used, the centre might be elsewhere completely. But this is the only one marked as such. You take what you can get ;-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Space museum at Moletai, Lithuania

On the way back from Daugavpils in Latvia (an ex-soviet-garrison town, so not worth the visit) to Vilnius (the capital city of Lithuania, dense traffic and dirty, so we just passed through) we stopped over at the observatory in Moletai (Lithuania). The older observatory building has a 165 cm diameter mirror scope (and 2 smaller ones), a real light bucket. But, seen one scope you've seen them all, so we enjoyed the guided tour of the space museum just a few hundred yards away a lot more.

The photo on the left shows the (ethnocosmological) museum building. It looks like some kind of glass UFO balanced on twin towers balanced on a hall with a sloping roof (the space museum), all topped by a small telescope dome. There is a tower with another telescope dome just to the south.

The space museum has a copy of the Arecibo message inside on one wall as shown in the photo on the right. The Arecibo message was a 1974 binary interstellar radio message carrying basic information about humanity and Earth sent to globular star cluster M13 ( which happened to be in the Arecibo beam when the opening ceremony took place) in the hope that extraterrestrial intelligence might receive and decipher it. I remember trying to decipher it in November 1974, so I spent 1/4 hour trying again.

The message is 1,679 bits long. 1,679 is the product of 2 prime numbers, 23 and 73, so the 1679 bits could be interpreted as a 2D picture 23 bits wide and 73 high as shown in the photo above. It can be interpreted as nine groups/rows. Row eight can be seen as the Arecibo parabolic antenna dish focussing a beam. Row 7 can be interpreted as showing the third stone from the sun as our home (at that time Pluto still counted as a planet, hence nine). Row one can be seen as the numerical digits 0 through 9, showing we count to base ten (for whatever reason) although the message is in binary . I can also see the humanoid figure in the message; but I couldn't deduce what the rest meant ( see here for the explanation).

Looking down from the glass UFO into the museum gardens, you can (just) see a scale representation of the solar system, as often displayed at other observatories. More unusual was this true compass henge made of foundling boulders (excuse the reflections in the window glass please). This henge is aligned on true north; our current pole star is Polaris, just 1° off this axis. Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the pole star in 3000 BC was Thuban and in the first century BC it was Kochab; over the course of Earth's 26,000-year axial precession cycle the polestar changes, so looking at the alignment of this henge will tell future archeologists when it was built (seeing as how carbon dating will soon no longer be useful).

Back inside the museum, one wall was decorated with a NASA photo of footprints on the moon (the name of Raj and Howard's band in TBBT), historic indeed.

We were surprised to learn that such a small nation as Lithuania also has a space program : they have had two small cube-sats launched together; both were carried to the International Space Station and deployed later in 2014. Here are their two backup cube-sats.

That's an affordable space program; even the IOM has a cubesat :-)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Six :-)

Suppose I told you I'll read your mind despite us being separated by time and space across the internet. Choose a single digit number from the range 1 through 9. Telling you what you'd chosen would be too easy, so I'll even do some complicated arithmetic on your chosen number.

Raise your chosen integer to the power of twelve, then divide the product by thirteen. Find the decimal point in the result and look at the third digit after the decimal point. I'll read your mind and tell you what that third decimal digit is. Now read today's blogpost title ;-)

You may want to use a calculator to get the twelfth power of your initial chosen integer and perhaps also to divide by 13. There's a calculator on your smart phone that can help you here if you hold the phone horizontally (aka landscape mode). In the example below I chose 5 as the initial integer. So the calculation looks like this :-

You enter your choice of integer (I used 5), then hit the exponentiation button. That's the one I've ringed in red for you. Now type in the 12 and hit the equals sign. The calculator shows the result of you multiplying your integer by itself twelve times (see example above).

Now just divide your product by 13. Find the decimal point in the result of the division by 13 and look at the third digit after the decimal point. Bar bet anyone? I bet you a beer it's a six :-)

Mind reading across the internet. Put your tinfoil hat on if you want to block me out ;-)

Comments (1)
Petra (A) sent this photo, saying "Blocked you! ;-)"

Friday, October 19, 2018

Mine Eyes have seen the Glory . . .

When sailing back from Lithuania to Germany, we saw this beautiful glory in the thin clouds above the ship. The photo does not do justice to the rainbow ring of colours though.

Such a glory is usually a sign of autumn approaching, as is the departure of the cranes.

Back home we saw our walnut tree turn yellow, then brown, ...

... then lose most of its leaves one windy night. Autumn is here, 21°C in sunshine :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Discworld discovered :-)

When we were in Tallinn, we took a look inside the old Guildhall museum. They were showing inter alia old maps of the world throughout the past centuries. And Lo and Behold, one of the representations of the Earth was like Terry Pratchett's Discworld :-)

A turtle, Great A'Tuin, swimming through space, bearing three elephants on its shell (Pratchett's Discworld had four). On the backs of the elephants is a disc shaped (almost flat) Earth. PTerry may have been influenced by Hindu mythology. The World Turtle in Hindu mythology is however known as Akupara. The flat Earth is i.a. implied by the bible in Matthew 4:8 ;-)

De Chelonian Mobile!

I took a photo from the top too (excuse the flash reflection) to see if it was supposed to be PTerry's Discworld, but no, the labelling showed a representation of our own Earth :-)

Also - shades of Ankh Morpork - there was a table of medieval weights and measures too :-)

I loved discovering this old stuff with regionally different measures :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tallinn, Estonia

Continuing north from Riga, we drove into Estonia to see inter alia its capital city, Tallin which is on the northern coast, across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki. Tallinn's old city, up on the hilltop, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Tourists come to see the old town hall shown above and dine in open air restaurants surrounding the main square, of course. But we liked the ancient quiet cobbled streets too and walked through most of them. We'd parked outside the city walls overnight.

The old guildhall (photo below, left) is certainly worth a visit, see next blogpost, and the historical nature of the site is emphasized by tourist guides dressed up as Knights of the Teutonic Order (from the middle ages).

The medieval architecture varies between narrow houses and beautifully restored statues like these two black ladies on the stone houses.

Indeed, the one I liked best was the Dragon House.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Riga, Latvia

Riga is the capital city of Latvia and is a very attractive place. We only stayed for a day, due to our tight touring schedule, so plan to return with more time. Riga is on the river Dougava and has a canal running through the city parallel to the river; so a canal boat trip is a good way to see the city. Our boat was 100+ years old :-)

The scenery varies from idyllic quiet canal backwaters in the city centre... the presidential palace as seen from the river. This building used to be the castle of the Teutonic Order of Knights back in the middle ages.

I was most impressed by the varied architecture of the buildings in the old town centre. Once, we dined here, in this beautiful building :-

But this small restaurant is also to be recommended; it has been a restaurant for almost 800 years now, originally built in 1221 soon after the city was founded. Well restored!!!

One of the more popular tourist attractions is this recent reconstruction of the 14th century House of the Blackheads, a guildhall for tradesmen and foreigners.

Of course, they still have the old KGB building from the soviet era; pretty GRUesome!

Next up, I'll show you Tallin, Estonia's old capital city, also very attractive.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Speech-to-Text ;-)

When I was in the backwoods of Estonia last month, I had no access to my PC. So I used the Speech-to-Text facility of my Android smart phone to put comments onto your blogs and met with howls of derision (e.g. from CC) for the barely understandable texts which the software sometimes generated ;-)

But I'm glad to hear and see today that I'm not the only one affected by real-time Speech-to-Text failures.

Today in the UK, Princess Eugenie got married - a very public ceremony - and the BBC's TV commentator used the BBC's Speech-to-Text facility to generate subtitles on-screen in real time for the hearing impaired. Nobody proof-read/edited them.

What we heard the commentator say on TV was "What a beautiful dress!".

What the BBC's Speech-to-Text facility generated on-screen in real time was the hilarious "What a beautiful breasts" ;-)

Some would call this a SW failure ; I'd say the BBC boobed ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Amber Museum in Palanga

On our way north to Latvia, just before the border, we came to the Lithuanian amber museum, well worth a visit. It is in a palace in Palanga, set back a kilometer from the road, through an ornamental garden.

Amber is fossilized tree resin, which sometimes contains animal and plant material as inclusions. Several samples of these are on display. Besides insects, there were also small reptiles (newts?) trapped inside the once sticky resin.

Königsberg in Prussia (now the Russian exclave Kaliningrad) was the world's leading source of amber. The first mentions of amber deposits here date back to the 12th century. About 90% of the world's extractable amber is still found in the Baltics. I found a thumbnail sized piece myself; it had been washed up on the beach nearby. This museum has a beautiful display of amber jewellery.

The piece shown above is about 8 inches across. The two vertically oriented pieces shown below are about 6-8 inches high, amber and bronze, methinks.

The amber has been polished of course in these jewellery pieces. My own find looked rough, like it had been sandblasted in the waves for centuries ;-)

The piece shown above is several inches across. It represents the Hill of Crosses, a religious/protest memorial famous throughout Lithuania, especially amongst Catholics (and tourists). I'll do a separate blogpost later about the Hill of Crosses.

Comments (2)
Cop Car wrote " I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of the amber that I am just sure you sent me from the Baltics. How sweet of you! (I can dream - lol.) Of course, it would be a large chunk with a critter trapped therein. As kids, we used to chew the congealed sap exuded by our fruit trees; but, I've only seen amber at museums. There isn't much to find in the great Midwest of the USA." They had a small shop there with prices ranging from 20/80/hundreds of Euros. But even SWMBO didn't buy anything. Polishing the piece I found and gave her is going to cost up to €100. So, nothing for you, sorry :-(
Petra (A) asks "How difficult was it for you to find?" Pure chance, and I only found one piece. This is what you are looking at, on acres of beach :-

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Baltic Coast Road

After leaving Klaipeda, we drove up the coast road to Tallin (Estonia) via Riga (Latvia) and through various national parks. The Baltic countries are flat, flat, flat. In fact, we were told that old Latvian has no word for 'mountain' :-) So the roads are straight, straight, straight through woods on either side even beyond the horizon. Boring for motorcyclists. The road goes ever on :-) Here is what my SatNav showed :-

And in reality, it doesn't look much different. We often drove for a quarter of an hour without seeing any other traffic. The speed limit (90 km/h) is just in case any elk or deer jump out of the woods in front of you.

Although there are no roads leading off into the woods, some people must live there, because every mile or so there is a bus stop, replete with bench and garbage can (emptied regularly). Apropos garbage : there isn't any, anywhere, the people are very tidy, even in the towns. In Riga, we found out why : we were sitting in a cafe´ as the garbage truck came down the street (where there were NO cans on the street). The garbage collectors came into the cafe´, picking up bags which were stored inside!

But enough of the road, let me show you the coast, in some places just 50 yards from the forested road :-

Natural, sandy beaches the length of the country. Very little, if any, tourist infrastructure. Just trees as flotsam, thankfully very little plastic. Clean :-)

And yes, within 10 minutes, I found some amber on the beach, about the size of my thumbnail. Amber is plentiful here; see next blogpost.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Sculpture Park in Klaipeda

In the past couple of blog entries I've shown you some of Lithuania's obsession with sculptures, first in sand, then in wood (tree trunks). Now for the Sculpture Park in Klaipeda - Lithuania's coastal city - which has stone statues and sculptures; entry is free here too.

Surprisingly - or maybe not - the local Memel Motorcycle Club (Hi, guys) even has its own roadside statue! (Klaipeda was called Memel when East Prussia was a part of Germany, before the Russian occupation.)

That's enough on sculptures, next we drove north up the Baltic coast into Latvia, so I'll show you some of the coast scenery.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Raganu Kalnas tree sculptures

Methinks they have a penchant for sculptures in Lithuania. After seeing the sand sculptures (see last months blog) we took a walk through the famous Witches' Hill Woods, famous for their expressively carved treetrunk sculptures. I've blogged a selection of my photos thereof below :-) These woods are on the Curanian Spit too.

Next up, I'll be showing you the Sculpture Park in Klaipeda too :-)

Recent Writings
The centre of Europe
Space museum, Moletai
Six :-)
The Glory of Autumn
Discworld discovered
Tallinn, Estonia
Riga, Latvia :-)
Speech-to-Text ;-)
Amber Museum, Palanga
Baltic Coast Road
Sculpture Park Klaipeda
Raganu Kalnas sculptures
Getting to know you
Sand Statues
Buggering the Boys :-(
Touring the Baltics
The Chosen One
Dog put down :-(
Classic Racing, Schotten
Two bee or not two bee
Birthday News
Momus was here
Some Local Fossils
Iron Annie down :-(
Dark Side of the Moon
Sunday's oldtimer meet
Helsinki Body Language
Bastille Day Bloopers

Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Greg Laden
Mostly Cajun
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
On her Bike
Rants from t'Rookery
Starts with a Bang
Yellowdog Grannie

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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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