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Oh, and after the death of his old dog, Kosmo, he also has a new bulldog puppy, Clara, since September 2018 :-)
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Saturday, December 29, 2018
Reading text books :-)logger Cop Car (USA) has recently been showing us some of her (old) text books and mailed me to do similarly. But I am differently organised than she is. My (7000?) books are cached. The ones I am currently reading are just piled next to my bed. The next 1600-2000(?) are stored on easily accessible bookshelves throughout the house ; there are bookshelves on all three storeys ;-) The rest - which I haven't wanted to throw away or pass on - are piled away in cases in the attic and so are not easily accessible. Third level cache, so I'm ignoring them here.
So I sent Cop Car this photo of the computer science section of my bookshelves. The ones marked with the black cross are some of the ones I wrote, so don't count for me as reading ;-)
Turned out this wasn't what she wanted to see, she was interested in science books. But the textbooks from my university days (55 years ago) are gathering dust in the attic and are not easily accessible. I've just kept them for nostalgia reasons I suppose. So instead I showed her some of the science books off my bookshelves, see below, which are more easily accessible.
The book with the widest scope in this bunch is Sir Roger Penrose's "The road to reality", it is however quite difficult to read. The most entertaining and by far the easiest read is Nobel prizewinner Richard Feynman's "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman". Those two Piper paperbacks are by him too.
The main message of this blogpost is shown in this graphic shown below : Why read books?
Reading books is much better for you than just watching TV, e.g. Fox News, as Trump does all day :-(
What am I reading now? Dava Sobel's "Longitude", which is about John Harrison's development of the first sea-going chronometer to measure longitude. Also David Wells' "Curious and interesting numbers". On the fiction side : Christoph Gutknecht's "Lauter blühender Unsinn", yes, Germans DO have a sense of humour.
Addendum : It's not just me, some great people on my blogroll have also written books, why not go look?
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
The Bethlehem Mythhis is for you bible thumpers of Possum Hollar, or The One True Church®, etc etc, whom I want to realise that the story of Jesus being born in Bethlehem is Fake News; Luke just made it all up!
There are four gospels but Luke is the only one who thinks Jesus slouched towards Bethlehem to be born (pace Yeats). Luke just made it up.
So lets look at what he wrote. "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world" (Luke, 2:1, NIV). Not true. Caesar Augustus never issued such a decree, nor was there ever such a census. Luke just made it up! The Jews didn't like censuses very much anyway, ever since King David ordered a census of the people and God promptly killed 70,000 innocent people (1 Chronicles 21 : 14).
Luke continues "This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria" That would have been after 6 AD. But allegedly also during the reign of Herod (who had died in 4 BC). Can't both be right. Luke just made it up! No Roman census required people to travel from their own homes to those of distant ancestors; and the census of Judea (where Quirinius was responsible) would not have affected Joseph and his family, living in Nazareth, anyway. Luke just made it up!
Luke made it up so that readers would believe the prophecy was being fulfilled for the Birth of the Messiah, so he needed an excuse why Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. The old testament prophesies say that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem from the stem of Jesse (David's father), Joseph's family line. But Joseph had nothing to do with it since Mary was a virgin (as claimed by The One True Church®) so the prophecy wasn't being fulfilled anyway. Luke made it up unneccessarily!
As I child, I assumed that Mary and Joseph had a long and arduous trip. But it is only 9 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, you can walk it in 2 to 3 hours, so there is no need for an inn, they could have just gone home again and came back on counting day. Unless of course he meant the other Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem, not the Bethlehem just west of Nazareth??
Luke, or indeed The One True Church® could have made it much more interesting, by including the Infancy gospels into the bible (which were discarded by one of the many conferences around 300 AD deciding which pieces of scripture to put in the bible. Therein Jesus as an infant talked to three dragons and calmed them down, leaving Mary and Joseph (and several other kids) to proceed on their journey. Presumably the 9 mile journey home. So it wasn't only Luke making stuff up : dragons indeed!
The whole Bethlehem trip is just fake news, which Luke made up for reasons explained above.
Monday, December 24, 2018
Ideal Xmas present for everyone ;-)aw this Back-to-the-Future time-travelling cartoon on the internet (Failblog?) and thought it might be the ideal Xmas present for everybody ;-)
So what's your best prezzy?
Friday, December 21, 2018
Spiegel-gate :-(udolf Augstein, who founded the German news magazine Der Spiegel, must be turning in his grave! Augstein was a german officer who wanted to make the world a better, more moral, place after the Nazis and their lying propaganda. His motto was "Tell it like it is!", the truth and nothing but the truth. And now this, Fake News in Der Spiegel :-(
Der Spiegel has discovered that one of its "journalists" (my quotation marks), Claas Relotius, winner of many prizes for his exceptional stories (e.g CNN made him Journalist of the Year), has been making his stuff up : fiction, not facts :-(
Fellow reporter and whistleblower Juan Moreno, against much opposition from their bosses, has provided sufficient evidence that the internal quality control department went through articles by Relotius with a fine toothcomb. So far, 14 of his 55 articles have turned out to be fake news, and counting :-(
The story from the Syrian civil war about the boy Mauwiya, who believed his anti-Assad graffiti could change things there, as Relotius reported (June 2018) in his article "Ein Kinderspiel (a child's game)" ? Made up! Relotius never went to Syria and now alleges it was all via WhatsApp talks. There is no evidence of these alleged WhatsApp talks, indeed it is not known whether Mauwiya actually exists or even if that was his name, if he did exist.
In march of 2018, Relotius wrote about an American woman who - after the death of her husband from cancer - travelled via bus from Death Row to Death Row to witness the executions. He titled the article "The last witness". Relotius claims to have ridden the bus with her. Except that these bus rides never happened, nor did the deceased husband exist. And it is unclear whether Mrs Gaddis actually exists. All just made up?
Just last month Relotius wrote a story about a US militia in Arizona, describing their racist town-limit signpost in great detail. Except that Relotius had never been there and had never talked to any member of that militia. Fake news!
But Der Spiegel at least has a quality control department to fact check all stories; many other media don't - I shall not mention F** News here - and it is to their credit that they uncovered this fake news and are publicly 'fessing-up to it :-)
This is probably the best way of trying to recover their reputation. Ruthless exposure. And Relotius can expect never to work again as a journalist here in Europe. I have always trusted the facts in what I read in Der Spiegel despite their leftist leanings. And now, after their ongoing self-flagellation (all 55 of his articles are being examined and perhaps publicly retracted), I think Der Spiegel will be as trustworthy as usual. We are so used to hearing about fake news in & from Trumpistan that it hurts when it happens at home :-(
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Santa's little dears ;-)round this time of year you will see lots of pictures of nordic pagan yule rites (Xmas trees etc) which are supposed to remind you of the birth of Christ. Not quite sure what the connection is supposed to be, there. One class of pictures shows Santa in his sleigh being drawn by 2, 4, 6, 8 or 9 reindeer, faintly like the picture shown below.
As a lad, I had always assumed that with names like Rudolph and Thunder(=Donner), they were big brawny male reindeer. Well, I did have my doubts about Prancer, but
assumed he was the token gay
But this year, when we were in the Baltic countries, I learned that not only do female reindeer shed their antlers for the summer, but that the male reindeer shed their antlers for the winter! However, the pictures clearly show that the reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh all have antlers. In winter, already!
So can we conclude that Santa's little dears are all transsexual ? ;-)
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Censored in OZ :-(his blog entry is for my blogreaders in OZ (Australia), because your own OZ press is censored and not allowed to publish this stuff (yet) :-(
Australian Roman Catholic cardinal George Pell, 4th highest in the RC heirarchy, finance-minister to the Pope, has been found guilty of sexually molesting children! The county court of Victoria in OZ convicted him of forcing oral sex on two 13-year old choirboys in 1996. I wouldn't have expected less. But the way the law in OZ works means that this news is censored in Australia until then sentence is announced (february 4th 2019?), and this convicted pederast and paedophile is allowed to walk freely until sentenced :-( [Here in Germany he would be kept locked up until sentenced.]
The court can jail him for up to 25 years depending on how serious it deems the crime. Let's hope they throw the book at him!
Meanwhile one of the molested lads has died, psychologically disturbed (?), of a drug overdose. The cardinal himself is in hospital for a knee operation, we are told. At least that should prevent him from fleeing the country and hiding in Rome.
We'll see in February what his earthly punishment will be. Hopefully the court will make an example of him.
Aside : Once, when I was entering Australia, the immigration officer went through his checklist, asking me "Have you ever been to prison?". However, he really didn't like my cheeky reply "Oh, is that still a requirement here?" ;-)
Thursday, December 13, 2018
... Interesting Timeseople believe there was an ancient chinese curse "May you live in interesting times!" But this is fake news, there was no such chinese curse. That said, some people collect analogue clocks with non-standard displays, aka interesting times. I bought this one from MathsGear last week; now sold out :-(
Standard clocks have a circular clockface, a short hour-hand and a long minute-hand. Some have a seconds-hand too. But this is a Fibonacci clock! The short straight hand is the minute hand. The longer hand is in the shape of a Fibonacci spiral curve. You read off the hours where the Fibonacci spiral curve intercepts the vertical central line on the oblong "clockface".
The photo on the left shows 12:02, the photo on the right shows 1:50.
A practical tip : mount the clock at eye level to make it easier to read. Leave room for the spiral end at 3 and 9 positions. The cheap drive is powered by an AA battery.
If you thought this was scurrilous, wait until you see the hyperbola display clock!
The little hand centred on the baseplate is the minute hand. As the baseplate slowly rotates the straight black rod moves around and intercepts the hyperbola slots where you can read off the time : 3:30 here :-) Sadly, already sold out :-(
For the New Year's Eve countdown, I also have a candle I calibrated myself :-)
May you too live in interesting times ;-)
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
This pencil, sharpened, stays in its prime :-)round this time of year, I'm always on the lookout for really nerdy presents for my geeky STEM friends. So I was quite happy to find this pencil at MathsGear , in the UK. It came in boxes of 11 :-)
The pencil is embossed with a 24 digit prime number (see close-up, below).
Now, as you use the pencil, you will need to sharpen it at times. So first of all, you will remove the leading digit, 3, by sharpening the pencil.
The great feature is that the remaining 23 digit number 576...37 is also prime :-)
That 24 digit prime number is the largest continuously left-truncatable prime number. Dr. James Grime has the details in a 10 minute YouTube video.
I managed to get one of the last pencil packets, these are sadly now sold out :-(
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Blogroll changes : ave atque vale.ime to tell you about some (forthcoming/past) changes to my blogroll.
It seems that Badtux the snarky penguin hasn't updated since the start of november - instead of almost daily - so I'm assuming he's hospitalised or even deceased. What a shame, it was a good blog which I liked a lot. But I'll be dropping it from my blogroll for the new year. Learning from this, I've instructed SWMBO to put up a one-liner "This blog stopped here" should I shuffle off this mortal coil before she does.
He is replaced by Sabine Hossenfelder, a theoretical physicist, who blogs over at Back Reaction. She writes a science-heavy blog and so may not be for everyone, but I'm trying it at least for a while.
For a month or so I've been reading Infidel753, an American allrounder, which I like for his weekly roundup of links he enjoyed during the previous week.
This year I've been following a fellow biker, Kinga Tanajewska, who is returning home to Poland from Australia on her motorcycle. She blogs about her adventure at On Her Bike with lots of great photos; she was in Bulgaria in her last posting and so almost home. I expect I'll stop following the blog when she gets home unless she sets off on another adventure.
I like to keep my blogroll short (currently 20 links) so I can visit everyone daily, but if you know of a blog which you think might appeal to me, please email your favourite link to me :-)
And before anybody asks : "ave atque vale" is Latin for "hail and farewell", it originated from the last line of poem 101 by Catullus, as classical scholars will well know :-)
Gratuitous puppy photo of Clara for all who asked :-)
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Galileo saw Neptune!ay back around 1610 the prevailing opinion of the solar system was the geocentric claim by Ptolemy. This held that the Earth was at the centre of the universe; in particular The One True Church® held that the Vatican was the centre of the universe. It still does :-( This was what got Galileo into trouble because he suggested that the Sun was at the centre of the solar system (aka heliocentric model). Hence "E pur si muove".
He had deduced this by observing 4 moons around Jupiter, using his improved but still primitive refracting telescope. His first home-made telescope was like an opera glass nowadays, the main lens convex and the eyepiece a concave lens, magnification 3 ;-) His later improvements gave his best telescope a magnification of about 20, albeit with a narrow field of view and lens defects causing blurry images. Nevertheless he saw Jupiter as a disc and the four larger moons of Jupiter. In order of decreasing size, these are Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa. The first three are even bigger than Pluto, which was why Pluto was recently degraded to the status of a dwarf-planet, leaving Neptune as the planet farthest out in our solar system.
In 1612 Galileo was observing Jupiter again when he observed what he at first thought was a fifth moon but later wrote that it was a fixed star although documenting its movement relative to the background stars. Here are his notes made at the time :-
Nowadays, every decent amateur astronomer has a solar-system-simulator running on his or her PC. By setting its date to winter of 1612, it can calculate what the night sky looked like back then. Galileo's notes show the 5th object, a faint blue dot, in the plane of Jupiter's moons. The simulation places Neptune - the outermost planet of the Solar system - exactly where he saw the 5th object. So I conclude : Galileo saw Neptune!
Now we can test if this was indeed feasible. Tonight and tomorrow night Neptune is right next to Mars making it very easy to find in the sky. So I shall use my small portable reflecting telescope - Galileo would have eaten his heart out for one of these - choose an eyepiece to set the magnification to about 20x, and look at the red disc of Mars. Right next to it I shall expect to see a pale blue dot, Neptune, thus "confirming" that Galileo could have seen Neptune with a 20x magnifying telescope. You can do this too, so give it a try! You can see Mars with the naked eye, it's really close right now, just 8 light-minutes away. But you will need either high-power binoculars (20x) or a telescope to see Neptune. Just like Galileo did :-)
In all fairness, mine is the better instrument, a reflecting telescope like the one invented by Sir Isaac Newton in 1688. His primary mirror had a 2 inch aperture and magnified about 35x. Mine has a 3" aperture and so a maximum useful magnification of 150x, viewing permitting. Still not enough to see Neptune as a disc though (needs 200x+ AND good viewing).
Getting off-topic here, but if you want a semi-portable scope that will show ALL the planets as discs, you will need something like this one shown on the left. This has an eight inch aperture (and so could reach 8*50=400x magnification with best viewing), and when dissembled into its 4 main pieces will JUST fit in my car (a VW New Beetle). The tube goes across the back seat, the mounting in the trunk/boot, the box of different eyepieces behind the passenger seat and the sight behind the driver seat. The sight has no magnification, it just projects a red spot into the sky so you can aim the main tube. Mind you, you'll need to drive (in winter!) with the car's heating off or you'll find it will take the main mirror ¾ hour to cool down after arrival at your dark-sky observation site ;-)
Now let's just hope the skies are clear on 6th and 7th :-)
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Bar bet questionsegular readers will know I like bar bets to win a beer or three. So here are some tricky questions for you to try yourselves. I always warn people to think deeply first before replying. No Googling allowed!
Question 1 - What is heavier, an ounce of gold or an ounce of feathers? Many immediately shout "They're the same!" but that's not true, the gold weighs more than the feathers! Proof : Gold is weighed in Troy ounces, non-precious metals (and feathers) in avoirdupois ounces. A troy ounce weighs 31.1 grams and an avoirdupois ounce weighs 28.35 grams. So an ounce of gold weighs more than an ounce of feathers. Mine's a Guinness.
Question 2 - What is heavier, a pound of gold or a pound of feathers? Having heard my previous reply, many immediately shout "The gold weighs more than the feathers!" but that's not true, the pound of gold weighs less than the pound of feathers! Proof : There are 16 ounces in an avoirdupois pound but only twelve troy ounces in a troy pound. A troy pound weighs 373 grams but an avoirdupois pound weighs 454 grams. So a pound of gold weighs LESS than a pound of feathers. Mine's a Guinness again;-)
If these troy vs. avoirdupois weights are confusing any of you, let's try a simpler but worldwide question for my internet blogreaders.
Question 3 - You and I each get a ton of bricks delivered to our building sites. Whose brick load is heavier, yours or mine? Some cautious thinking takes place across the web ;-) It's the same item (bricks), so there can be no difference you might think. But I live in Germany, so my ton is a metric ton (1000 kg = 2206 lbs). If you are in the USA, you use short tons (2000 lbs). In the UK you use long tons (2240 lbs). So the answer to the question "Whose brick load is heavier, yours or mine?" depends, dear blogreader, on where you live! So let's each have a third Guinness ;-)
Aside : What have we learned today? When using a measurement make sure you know the exact units used. When stating a measurement, be sure to quote the exact units used. Preferably, use the metric system too ;-)
Reading text books :-)
The Bethlehem Myth
Ideal Xmas present...
Santa's little dears
Censored in OZ :-(
... Interesting Times
Galileo saw Neptune!
Bar bet questions
InSight on Mars :-)
Bigger than you'd think
"I am a jam donut!"
Marriage made in heaven
Hessen's election :-(
9/11, a fateful day
The Hill of Crosses
The centre of Europe
Space museum, Moletai
The Glory of Autumn
Ain Bulldog Blog
All hat no cattle
Finding life hard?
On her Bike
Starts with a Bang
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This blog is getting really unmanagable, so I've taken the first 12 years' archives offline. My blog, my random decision. Tough shit; YOLO.
ENGLISH : I am not responsible for the contents or form of any external page to which this website links. I specifically do not adopt their content, nor do I make it mine.
DEUTSCH : Für alle Seiten, die auf dieser Website verlinkt sind, möchte ich betonen, dass ich keinerlei Einfluss auf deren Gestaltung und Inhalte habe. Deshalb distanziere ich mich ausdrücklich von allen Inhalten aller gelinkten Seiten und mache mir ihren Inhalt nicht zu eigen.
This Blog's Status is
Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
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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