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mike  ·  1241 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Oops - Wrong Number

What!? "yur guy hit our truck with the train"? Yeah buddy, good luck getting the train company to pay for that one!

My funniest wrong number story: When I first moved to Norway some 7 years ago a lady called from Denmark trying to reach her son in Tromsø. I couldn't speak much Norwegian, but she just kept talking. I tried all the simple things I could say, I had just moved from the US, the weather was nice, I worked in mathematics, etc. Found out her name was Elsi.

A couple of weeks later she called again. We laughed about the wrong number and chatted a little bit more. She seemed delighted just to talk.

A few days later she rang again. "Hei! Det er Elsi!" she said. "Hvordan er været?!" (How's the weather?!) No pretense of a wrong number now! This dear old lady just wanted to talk. She became a phone friend for a while, calling me at random times and talking slowly so I could understand, but I really couldn't speak many words and I guess it was too demanding so after a while she stopped.

Oh Elsi, where are you today? We could discuss so many things now!

mike  ·  1278 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Are mathematics created or discovered?


I think it's a difficult question because it's really quite meaningless.

All of our logic, all of the way we think, is developed from our interaction with the universe, in very fundamental ways. I am in my bed. My bed is in my room. Therefore I am in my room. In this way our logic develops. Mathematics is the body of knowledge that grows from this logic. It is a human construct and it does such an amazingly good job of describing the universe because it grew from the structure of the universe. So when we find a surprising result and then find an example of that result in nature, we are even more surprised and get a feeling of being small surrounded by The Big Mystery.

"Was the math there or did we make it?" ignores the fact that we ourselves are a part of the mechanisms of the universe. To me, creating and discovering are the same. I am just happy I can take pleasure in the process!

(I suspect that the universe itself is an emergent phenomenum that comes from the simplest of rules, "1+1=2" or even simpler, like "1". It only really makes sense to me to think that the universe is just one particle.)

mike  ·  1441 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 3, 2014

Well Pubski, I bought a viking camp yesterday. 8000 sq.ft house, 4 cottages, workshop, and a kindergarten which pays rent. It's on beautiful cape on a fjord.

Renovating starts right away. It will become a mathematics creativity center with classroom, meeting space, coffeeshop, art gallery, math garden, bar, and store. I'll be giving up my job this summer to do this full-time and we'll be open for business August 1st.

mike  ·  1487 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: FBI Director: If Apple and Google Won't Decrypt Phones, We'll Force Them To

Yes, I am willing to let some bad guys walk away. The guys with the power to check up on everything you do are much much much scarier than the small bad guys.

mike  ·  1587 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Mid-2014 Hubski Sticker Vote Threadx 2

Inspired by veen, here is a fractal hubski animation. I know it would have to be a tricky sticker to animate.

This has recursion level 4:

And here's one with recursion level 6:

Each group of 8 "satellites" has a total area equal to its "planet". The initial orbital distance of the first ring of 8 satellites varies in this animation (in the Hubski logo, they are spaced one satellite diameter away from the planet). Subsequent orbits are of the ratio of sqrt(2)-1, or approximately 0.4142. This makes the satellites of neighbors overlap precisely. I was pleased to find the ratio of sqrt(2)-1. I've done a lot of cool math with sqrt(2)+1, and so this is a new direction to explore!

mike  ·  1607 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of immune system

mike  ·  1607 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Give me some "SPAM"

A pentagram is a five pointed star with crossing lines, the kind every kids learns to draw. A pentacle is a pentagram inside of a circle and has a rich history, which includes usages in various kinds of "magick". A pentagram inscribed in a pentagon is the symbol of the Pythagoreans and is a kickass mathematical shape.

Here's a handy guide I made to help show the difference:

Back in my juggling hey-day, I was practicing with my gang one day and a guy stopped back and said he hadn't juggled for years. Could he try? Of course. After a few tries he had a good run with 7 balls. I couldn't believe that someone would get good enough to juggle 7 balls and then not juggle for a couple of years. The time and commitment 7 balls requires is immense. I didn't believe someone could get that good and then just stop. I thought he must be joking.

I made a living juggling for a while. I got good. Not 7-balls good, but I had 60 throws with 6 balls and a four- or five-minute run with 5 balls. I thought juggling would be my life.

Now at 46 with several other careers under my belt, I juggle only once or twice a year. I've certainly gone 2 or 3 years without juggling.

Why did Anthony Gatto go into the construction business? Because there is more to life than doing one thing. There are other things to be interested in and take joy in. And if you think becoming a concrete specialist is nothing very interesting, then you probably haven't lived enough yet.

I get it. Good for you Anthony. Keep looking forward.

mike  ·  1622 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The preventable, inevitable death

Damn, frikking great commentary here. I'm in remission after having lymphoma for 2.5 years. I've thought about dying pretty much every day, and in a real practical sense not just a "what-if". I've set up google inactive account manager to alert friends and family to my "secret caches" to unlock my digital life and leave directions to make things easier for those cleaning up after me. That went a long way towards peace of mind.

This has changed me in an unexpected way. How can one be optimistic about the future when you know you're going to die? How does anything you do matter? It's enough to make me wish I could swallow the stories put out by one or another religion. One thing that keeps me going is my children: my children are my immortality, not just for my genetics but for my attitudes and knowledge. I need to stay alive for them. Even though I know the entire world will be gone someday, that enough for me, it's enough "scope". And so I try to make something of myself. Put as much into the world as I can before I go. And hope that I can leave behind enough good stuff to help my kids, and maybe other kids too.

Life. It sucks. But it's the only game in town. If you don't play, you get nothing. And I want something. I want it bad.

mike  ·  1982 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: I live in a Surveillance State

I live in Norway. For comparison, the government here cannot monitor your web activity. Or your phone records. Private surveillance cameras must be pointed away from streets and sidewalks. Traffic cameras, if they do not issue a ticket, must delete data about your transit within 30 seconds of recording it. Citizens are not permitted to take pictures of other people, or inside buildings. There are 7 police video surveillance cameras in the entire country, all in Oslo. Privacy is important here. Even if it makes police work more difficult.

Even though the Norwegian government isn't monitoring me though, I'm still being spied on by the U.S. I use gmail, which we now learn might all be copied (easy enough). And my data surely travels through U.S. servers, so the NSA knows what I buy and many of the websites I visit. Yep, even though I'm living and conducting my business in Europe, the U.S. is spying on me.

While Norway is deleted records that are 30 seconds old, I don't expect the NSA will delete their records. At all. Ever. Even if they say they will. And I don't expect they will stop. Even if they say they will. Everyone's pretty screwed.

Time for a new mode of email. Some kind of anti- Tin Can.