Random Thoughts

The Evocative Power Of Language

Most philosophical studies of how language functions have focused on semantics - how language conveys meaning.  In ordinary speech, language is not confined to the transmission of information.  It can be used to evoke strong emotions.
When you turn the resources of modern science to the problem of killing people, you realize how vulnerable they really are.

- Physicist I.I. Rabi, quoted in Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, p. 779







I have to agree with Richard Wiseman.  This is one of the coolest optical illusions I have seen in a while.

The trick is that the green spiral and the blue spiral are actually the same color of green.  You can see this in several ways using PhotoShop.  One way is to replace the blue color with black and see that the green stripes go to black too.
All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it.

- Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding Book IV, Ch. 20, sec. 17











The Bookworm And The Encyclopedias - The Solution



Last Monday I posed a simple math puzzle:


A set of 10 encyclopedias is sitting on a bookshelf in left-to-right numerical order.


Each single volume contains 1,000 pages.    


A bookworm eats its way directly and linearly through them in a straight line.


It starts on page 1 of volume 1.


It ends on page 1,000  of volume 10.


Question:    Not counting any covers, flysheets, etc., how many pages does the bookworm eat ?
If you happen to be in the San Francisco metropolitan area the week of August 16th, 2009 and can't get enough science, I'll be emcee'ing a symposium on communicating science to the public at the 90th Annual Meeting of the AAAS pacific region.
No one disturbs his fellow men with a new view unpunished.

- Ernest Mach, "A New Sense", quoted in Edmund Bolles, Galileo's Commandment, p. 27








UPDATE: Newest posting contains directions for AB negative blood donors outside the St. Louis area.
UPDATE: Donors are still needed to help this young boy.
Electrical arcs stabbed through the violet dusk. Heated solutions groaned toward their boiling points. Bubbles rose helically through luminous green liquids. Miniature explosions occurred in distant corners of the facility, sending up showers of glass as nearby workers cowered beneath seaside umbrellas set up for just such protection. Gauge needles oscillated feverishly. Sensitive flames sang at different pitches.
First UIUC now NIU and SIU are under investigation for clout, and political influence in admissions.  First the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne is found to have had a list of students who would get admission as a political favor.  Now Northern Illinois University, and Southern Illinois University, are in on the shenanigans as well. 

Here in Chicago we have a anecdote that sums up so much of the way the government in the city of Chicago, County of C(r)ook and state of Illinois work.  Abner Mikva on how he got started in politics...