Sunday, October 10, 2010

Do you feel lucky?

In the year 2010, OCTOBER has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. For this particular year, October 10 has the date of 10 10 10, which in binary happens to be 42.

For Remembrance day the year 2011, the eleventh of November has a date of 11 11 11. If you take into account when the armistice was signed, then the figure still is a palindrome. Although the more common palindromes are alphabetic (e.g., A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama), 11111111 is a numeric palindrome.

Written in Latin, the famous Sator Square is also a palindromic word square which also happens to be acrostic. To date I don't believe that this feat, of creating this type of square, has been replicated in English or any other modern language. A mnemonic (e.g., ROY G BIV) is a type of acrostic and it should not be confused with the Magic Square or the Latin Square. Apart from the fact that all three use grids there is no real connection between the three types of squares.

The Latin square should be familiar to those that play the popular game Sudoku.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What's in a name?

A Venn diagram is supposed to clarify situations. It uses graphics to help explain what would be difficult to write. However, it can become quickly complicated and then text is used supplement and to hopefully clarify. Take for example, the difference between homonym and homophone. For two different words, the first has the same spelling (i.e., name) but have a different pronunciation and the later has same sound (barring accented speech) but have different spellings.

When a word, or a series of words, are nearly homophonic they are referred to as be oronymic. Computer and Email spell checker are notorious for looking correct but are full of mistakes. Take for example the following poem:
- -
Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.
I have a spell checker
it came with my PC
it plainly marks for my review
mistakes I cannot see.

I strike a key and type a word
and wait for it to say
whether I'm wrong or right
it shows me straight away.

As soon as a mistake is made
it knows before too long
and I can put the error right
It's rarely ever wrong.

I have ruined this poem though it
I'm sure you're pleased to know
it's letter perfect in its way.
My checker told me so.

Just goes to show that you win some, but lose a lot more.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

A rebus as compared to a palindrome is a little more difficult to decipher. In addition, the length of a rebus can be unlimited. Whereas the palindrome sentence becomes a bit non-sensical if too long .
The rebus is not to be confused with a pictogram, since the former does not transcend languages very well.

Included with the Pioneer 10 and 11 space probes, that were launched in 1972 and 1973 respectively,
are small aluminum plaques that depict the origins of the craft. The images transcribed thereon are pictograms and hopefully in many years will be deciphered by somebody or something.

With the subsequent Voyager probes, the plaques, which had transformed to golden discs, became a bit more eclectic. Enclosing the records is a cover with etched instructions, in form of a pictogram, on how to view and listen to its contents.

If one examines the the golden cover plaque, a Rosetta stone is needed to decipher how to read the analog phonograph records. I guess that Carl Sagan was correct when he noted, "The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space". The readers of the records would have to be advanced since almost everything on Earth is now digitally based.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

As Time goes by

An analemma is exhibited over a year because the Earth is tilted on its axis and it orbits the sun in an ellipse.

The Earth is not the only planet to have an analemma. Of the eight planets in our solar system ( far reaching Pluto is now a sub-planet but also has an analemma), six of these exhibit the right orbital characteristics for the sun to form an analemmic curve throughout the planet's solar year

Once it was proved that the Earth was a circular, globes started to display the figure eight of the analemma.

Also because of the tilt and the orbit, the Equation of time is also comes into play. To grasp this concept, think of the difference of time, at a given point in time, between a Sun Dial and a Clock. The difference can be up to eight minutes.

At certain times of the year, variations of these observed concepts are the reason that seasons do not start exactly on time.

All this to say, that nothing is on time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A man, a plan, a canal - Panama

Although there is proof that the ancient Egytians had originally built various water channels between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, it wasn't until the second half the 1800's that the sea level Suez Canal was built.

Led by the Frenchman, Ferdinand de Lesseps, the initial construction of the Suez Canal was completed on November, 1869. At the beginning there was controversy, for a variety of reasons, including slavery and the deaths of thousands of laborers, but eventually the Suez Canal became a successful venture.

Based on the profitability of the Suez project, de Felleps led to the construction of the Panama Canal. His plan was to also build a sea level canal through the isthmus of Panama.
After a few years of construction, the French project was abandoned. There are a variety of reasons for the eventual bankruptcy, but tropical diseases among the workers and a failure to utilize a lock mechanism are the main reasons cited.

To accommodate the human traffic, as a consequence of the 1848 California gold rush, a railway, across the isthmus of Panama was built by the Americans. Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, under the guise of of "protecting American interests from Revolutionary forces" the American government stealthily acquired the Canal Zone and thus allowing the Americans to build a channel to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The success of building a canal was not wishing to repeat the mistake of the French. An infrastructure was first placed to control tropical diseases and then the construction of lock building began. The Panama Canal was opened at the start of World War one.

A trick question is "what direction are you traveling, when on the Panama Canal, from the Atlantic to Pacific?". The correct answer is "East". A look on a map will show because of the curvature of Panama, the correct answer is a bit contrary.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chariots of the Gods

There are many pyramids built throughout in the ancient world. One of the most famous ones is the one built by the ancient Egyptians called the pyramid of Cheops. There are various theories on how the pyramids were actually constructed but you can bet that working conditions were rather unpleasant and odious.

Aedes aegyti is known to be the vector of "breakbone" fever and yellow fever. She has greatly reduced the 'humming' sound made with her wings such that humans cannot hear it, unlike other species whose drone is extremely irritating and awakens the deepest sleeper.

My guess is that this species of mosquito never learned to spell onomatopea

Friday, January 1, 2010

Lorem Ipsum...

After texting a rather long message, my daughter asked me why the display keys where laid out the way a certain way. I replied that "in the old days" typewriters would "stick" if one would type (excuse me, texted) too fast and that the QWERTY layout minimized interference. To answer the next question (what's a typewriter?) required me to search for my old university machine to visually display jamming. I tried to explain white out and carbon paper but I noted a glazed look in her eyes when I mentioned selectrics. I quietly resigned to the fact that technology had once again beaten me again.

To test out "the feel" of typewriters, and later on keyboards, I would systematically use the pangram "Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs". I would have used Lorem Ipsum but the phrase would be too long and besides most of the words are nonsensical Latin, or mock Latin.

Although not correct, one of the better sayings is "Nihil Illegitimi carborundum".

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Time Marches on

A while back a friend asked me what snotty was in Spanish. Although I didn't know the context or the gender I answered "mocosa". Only later did I learn that the sobriquet was given to a pet kitten that just so happened to always have a runny nose with constant sneezing (maybe she was allergic to cats).

Martial law is directly derived from the ancient Roman God of War, Mars. Originally Mars was the Roman god of fertility and a protector of farmers. It was only later that Mars associated with battle as the growing Roman Empire began to expand, and he came to be identified with the Greek god Ares. Because seeds where sown in the Spring, the month of March was subsequently named after Mars.

Genesis is the the first part of the Old Testament. One story (Genesis 38) is of the second born Onan who was assigned the task of primogeniture upon death of his older brother. Understandably, Onan balked and "spilled his seed on the ground".

It's amazing how birds, whether they're pets in cages or free in the wild, are messy eaters, especially those that are sustained by seeds. Personally I think a good name for these these type of pets should be Onan.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

and the answer is ..

Recently I encountered a dilemma (actually it was a trilemma) and I didn't like the result of either choice. I could have made no choice (the third option) but like in all situations it would come up at a later date and the resultant would have been worse. I felt that this entire situation was a pons asinorum.

Now, I could said that this particular paradox was a case of Buridan's ass, but it (the situation) was more of a case of Morton's Fork. But since the results were pleasant it was more of a Hobson's choice.

I wouldn't say that this was a Catch 22, but since I got around the problem (by changing the parameters) I would say that it would be more accurate to state that Kobayashi Maru came in to play.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Just the Fax ma'm

Before telephones there was the facsimile, more commonly known as FAX.
Later, the wireless picture (sometimes referred to as radio FAX), didn't come into play until the late 1920s. However, not until the mid-70s, through a series of improvements, was the telephone finally used to transmit images.

It was the Japanese who made usage of FAX as a popular medium. The Japanese language uses thousands of characters. To use the adage of "a picture is worth a thousand words" simplifies the reason the device quickly came into general use in the Orient.

The advent of Email, computerized files and the usage of PDF has supplanted the requirement for facsimile transmision. It now can all be done from your personal computer (PC) without having to get out of your chair.

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica