January 4


The Twelve Days of Christmath

Christmas ain’t over yet. The 12th day is Jan. 5th!


posted @ 02:11 PM EST

January 12

Snowfall in New Hampshire and Maine

The latest snowfall reports from The National Weather Service in Gray, ME: Northfield, 20.2"… near East Hampstead, 19.0"… Hampstead, 19.0"… Deerfield, 19.0"… Londonderry, 18.5"… near Henniker, 18.0"… 4 miles west of Randolph, 17.0"… near Sunapee, 16.5"… Springfield, 16.0"… near Stratham, 16.0"… Lisbon, 16.0"… Brunswick, 16.0"… Sanbornton, 16.0"… Hampton, 16.0"… near Standish, 15.7"… Cape Neddick, 15.5"… 4 miles south of Moultonborough, 15.0"… near Gilford, 15.0"… Nobleboro, 15.0"… near Hampton, 15.0"… near Derry, 15.0"… Lewiston, 15.0"… East Lempster, 15.0"… Randolph, 14.5"… Laconia, 14.1"… Naples, 14.0"… near Portsmouth, 14.0"… near Popham Beach St, 14.0"… Salem, 14.0"… Gilford, 14.0"… near Richmond, 14.0"… near Albany, 14.0"… near Cumberland, 13.5"… New London, 13.5"… near Augusta, 13.5"… near Jackson, up to 9.0"… near Turner, up to 7.0"… near Springfield, up to 12.0".

posted @ 05:07 PM EST

January 19

Math Sheet for iPad


Math Sheet is a rather elegant calculator for the iPad featuring the display of the history of entered expressions and their results.

posted @ 11:01 AM EST

January 21

An Idiosyncratic Mind

I was watching Jeopardy! the other night when the Final Jeopardy! ‘answer’ was “These are the 2 U.S. states with only one consonant in their names.” Right away, in about a second, one of the state names came to mind. Then, just as quickly, the second name followed. Since the answer indicated that there were only two, I knew I was done. Now, here’s the funny part. None of the three contestants on the show could think of the names in the time allotted by that well-known, little, Merv Griffin ditty.

I must admit that I’m no whiz at Jeopardy!. I don’t keep score but would guess that I don’t get more than about 10% of the questions right. I find it astounding how many facts the contestants know and how quickly they can recall them. Sure, sometimes I can come up with some particular fact that stumps the poor people under the bright lights and in front of the camera; perhaps some little tidbit from math or physics. It just happened that, in this particular case, something about the way my mind has stored state names made the association quite direct, allowing fast and effortless recall.

After he found that no one got the two state names, good, old Alex Trebek said something to the contestants in his superlatively condescending way about its being a hard question because there wasn’t really enough time to run through the list of all 50 states and find the ones with only one consonant. And you’d have to be sure that you didn’t miss any state. Well, yeah, that would be hard. I’m sure it would take me a long time to make a list of all 50 states. And I probably wouldn’t have a chance if I couldn’t write them down and count them.

I’ve seen reports of some surprising examples of memory where the people try to explain that the recall just comes to them without any special effort. They just want to remember and then, immediately, they do. Now I have some idea what that feels like. Well, it doesn’t really feel like anything. It just happens—automatically.

posted @ 03:30 PM EST

January 22

A Darwinian Theory of Beauty

In a TED video with animation that makes it fun to watch—no unadorned, talking head—Denis Dutton explains his provocative theory on beauty: that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply “in the eye of the beholder,” are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.

posted @ 10:52 AM EST

January 24

3D Doesn't Work

Like me, Roger Ebert is not a fan of 3D movies. In his latest journal entry he publishes a letter from notable film editor Walter Murch that explains his view of why 3D doesn’t work and never will. I don’t get a headache watching a 3D projection, but am distinctly uncomfortable for the first part of the showing. After that, the illusion is just distracting because it doesn’t look real to me. Maybe I am conscious of the inconsistency between focus and convergence.

I won’t be going to another 3D movie and, of course, will never buy a 3D TV.

posted @ 08:12 AM EST