Sunday, 5 February 2023

native client (10. 528)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest Linkfest, not only are we directed to a collection of emulators of graphing calculators like the example pictured but are moreover educated in the method reproducing these classic interfaces using MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, an open-source tool to re-create hardware as software)—a collaborative bit of programming by Nicola Salmoria to ensure that historic coding isn’t lost to the ages and that virtual consoles can exist within all sorts of operating system and browser environments. More at the Emulation Station at the hyperlinks above. 

 

Sunday, 29 January 2023

zero my hero (10. 507)

Turning fifty this month with its debut as a series with Multiplication Rock with songs written and performed by Bob Dorough going through the tables—see also—the interstitial animated educational shorts Schoolhouse Rock! was a staple of American Saturday morning cartoon programming, originally running through 1984. The original concept was suggested by an advertising executive of the influential firm McCaffrey and McCall’s that his young son was—despite being able to memorise the lyrics of Rolling Stones songs—struggling to rote lessons, resulting in the pre-canon “Three is a Magic Number” in 1971 before pursuing the project further. One of three between programming segments along with Time for Timer (“A Hankering for a Hunk of Cheese”) and the Bod Squad (“The Munchies,” “Don’t Drown Your Food”) and was followed by a second series, Grammar Rock, and for the US bicentennial in 1976, America Rock, culminating in the final run of Scooter Computer and Mister Chips.

Friday, 27 January 2023

ars notaria (10. 503)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest linkfest, which is a delight in itself to check in on often, we are introduced to the Cistercian system of ciphers, almost rune-like, developed by the monastic order parallel to the arrival of the Hindu-Arabic numerals in northwestern Europe which gradually replaced Roman notation, this stave system of units was far more compact and convenient for transcription as a single glyph could represent any value from one to ten-thousand. The pattern for forming higher numbers becomes apparent and later scholars expanded the system exponentially into the trillions. While seemingly not used for calculation, manuscripts from the thirteenth century show that they were used for numbering lists, indices, tables, musical notation and foliation—that is, page numbers. For more exploration and for a challenge (see also), click through to find source code to make a Cistercian clock.

Sunday, 1 January 2023

9x9 (10. 379)

run with us: Lisa Lougheed vocal talents showcased for the Canadian animated television series The Raccoons—1985 to 1992  

the number 23: Tedium looks forward to the dawning year  

artisanal bitcoin: crypto mined with only slide rules and graph paper  

rip: this more inclusive, Sgt Pepper’s style (previously) obituary of those we lost in 2022—to include the very recently passing of Anita Pointer, Barbara Walters and Pope Benedict 

next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual: a literary guide to New Year’s resolutions and more from Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links 

web 1.0: a clarion call to bring back personal blogging—also the upteenth time this appeal has circulated since 2007—via Kottke’s Quick Links  

penny-farthing: a pocket-sized battery that can enhance a mechanical bicycle  

magic clock: a 1960 Mel-O-Toons classic reminds us it’s late than we think  

fever ray: a selection of new musical artist from Super Punch

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

9x9 (10. 381)

deep field: JWST scans the skies  

mar1d: in-game action as our protagonist would experience the Mushroom Kingdom—like Flatland—via Kottke  

ny๐ŸŒณ: the City’s popular tree map updated to include a hundred thousand park residents—via Map Room  

even a cat can look at the queen: an exhibition of fine feline art 

tumbleword: a daily challenge from Jer Thorp—via Waxy  

math and the mechanics: the surprising origin story of the Cura Calculator 

cervoise: brewer informed by ancient herbal and unhopped beer predecessor  

world in motion: New Order’s 1990 World Cup anthem—via Digg  

splash down: Artemis’ Orion capsule (previously) returns after a perfectly executed trial run

Sunday, 20 November 2022

8x8 (10. 321)

yotta, yocto: prolific data generation drives the need for uniform names for extremely large and extremely small numbers—see previously—via Marginal Revolution  

quarantine caper: narrow escape from Jingdezhen just before lock-down  

a classic non-equilibrium thermodynamic reaction: a demonstration of a Belousov-Zhabotinsky oscillation in a Petri dish—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

don’t copy that floppy: an overview of a few anti-piracy schemes of the late 1970s and early 80s  

jpeg morgan: the rise and fall (and broader fall-out) of crypto bank and exchange FTX 

infantry: Academy Award winning Czechoslovakian animated short Munro (1960) about a four-year old drafted into the army  

fangcang: artist, after being identified as a “close contact” is confined in a remote hospital and transforms room into exhibition space  

euler equations: computers make break-throughs in understanding fluid dynamics

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

innerspace (10. 307)

Designed by astrophysicist Frank Drake (see previously) with input from Carl Sagan and others as a proof-of-concept demonstration rather than an attempt to enter into to dialogue with extra-terrestrials and criticised as being too low-resolution to be recognisable to future recipients, the Arecibo Message (see also here and here) was beamed from the radio observatory in Puerto Rico on this date in 1974, aimed in the direction of the globular star cluster M13, some twenty-five thousand light-years from Earth. When encoded graphically, the some sixteen hundred bits of data produce the pictured image with seven elements, from top to bottom: the decimal system, the valance of the elements that make up DNA, the chemical formula for the constituent nucleotides, the approximate number of said organic molecules in the human genome with representation of the double-helix structure, the average dimensions of a human male plus the Earth’s population (four billion, compared to eight billion presently), a representation of the Solar System and finally in purple, the Arecibo telescope. The precise number of bits, 1 679, is a semiprime—that is, the product of two prime numbers, seventy-three and twenty-three, to prompt one toward the right orientation, the alternate arrangement producing static. An answer came in 2001 in the form of a crop circle near the Chilbolton radio telescope in Hampshire—rather intricately replacing the carbon-based DNA with silicon and the pictogram of the human figure looks alien—though this reply was unfortunately an elaborate hoax.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

hubertustag (10. 268)

Fรชted on this day as the Apostle of the Ardennes and patron protector of hunters, opticians, metalworkers, mathematicians and chicken roasters, the sainted eighth century bishop of Liรจge (see previously here and here) is regarded as the originator of ethical deer stalking and preached compassion for animals as God’s creations—Hubertus himself converted whilst pursuing quarry in the woods and had the vision of a Crucifix floating suspended between the antlers of a stag—and is credited with formulating a set of rules and tactics to follow. Until very recent times, the saint was invoked as a cure for rabies (see also) through the use of a sacramental metal nail worked into the form of a cross called a St Hubert’s Key (Hubertusschlรผssel, Clef de Saint-Hubert), heated in fire and branded at the site of an animal bite, possibly with the effect of cauterising the wound.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

lingua cosma (10. 215)

Though somewhat unclear whether mathematician Hans Freudenthal intended his constructed language to be practically applicable or just a thought-experiment and heuristic for thinking about how we might hurdle a potential language-barrier, his Lincos (a portmanteau of the above, see previously) was designed to be decipherable by any extraterrestrial life form—free of terrestrial syntax or context—and conducive to radio transmissions as part of the SETI program, it was meant to primarily convey propositional logic and universal constants. This narrow-band of communication—a bridge, however did not dissuade senior lecturer in Digital Media Studies at the University of Roehampton Richard Carter from anthologizing this alien-icebreaker in a collection of poems called Signals, which of course limn our limits of expression amongst ourselves as much as to other galactic denizens. Much more to explore at the links above.

Saturday, 27 August 2022

8x8 (10. 091)

catenary curve: the relationship between arches and chains  

astrochickens: another one of Freeman Dyson’s theoretical constructs—albeit less famous than his spheres   

numeracy: a selection of books bringing maths to the masses 

click-wheel: design your next custom iPhone—add a headphone jack, handle, home button, etc. from Neal Agarwal (previously)  

safe neighbourhood: Madonna’s punk phase 

late-stage thatcherism: the UK under Tory leadership is in omnishambles 

chakumelo: a celebration of nostalgic words culled from Japanese dictionaries due to declining usage  

hรฌtรซkw: an AI redesigns the tennis racket, named after Lenape word for tree due to its root-like design

Friday, 26 August 2022

time in a bottle (10. 087)

A favourite topic here at PfRC being the subject of time and time-keeping and having previously covered topics of Roman hours, the French Revolutionary Decimal Calendar, Time Zones, Knocker-Uppers and Daylight Savings Time, we quite enjoyed this latest instalment of You’re Dead to Me—the comedy podcast that takes history seriously, that explores both the want to escape the tyranny of clock and how in its measurement of time, our horizons are broadened beyond the immediate to the eminent. Following one tradition that informs the generally agreed upon standard, it was the Roman conquest of Greek Sicily and bringing back the sundial of Syracuse as a war trophy and putting it on public display (despite being calibrated for Sicily-time) was the beginning of regimented time-keeping with the fabulist Titus Maccius Plautus lamented of this new installation in the forum during the Punic Wars, duplicated all over the empire, “May the gods damn the man who first discovered the hours—when I was a boy, my stomach was the only sundial, but now what there is isn’t eaten lest the sun say so.” Much more to explore at the links above.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

6x6 (10. 043)

blue plaque special: a curation of the City of London’s Blue Plaque scheme—via Nag on the Lake (see also)  

harry potter and the chamber of narcissism: McMansion Hell (previously) show a yassified property in the Atlanta suburbs  

warwolf: a closer look at Edward I’s siege machine—via Strange Company 

i² = -1: the fundamental realness of imaginary numbers 

pferd is the word: some AI-generated horse-hybrids from Janelle Shane (previously)  

delft on a shelf: a house on Fournier Street with some animated tiles

Friday, 15 July 2022

psy and the family stone

Released on this day in 2012 as the lead single off South Korea rapper eponymous sixth studio album, “Gangnam Style” (๊ฐ•๋‚จ์Šคํƒ€์ผ, previously) refers to the class and sophistication associated with the posh district of the city of Seoul—flag pictured. The K-Pop song and video started going viral by the following month, charting in more than thirty countries and the most “liked” video on the internet, reaching a billion views by year’s end. Holding the title of most viewed Youtube clip, it was overtaken in July 2017 by Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.” The refrain “Oppan Gangnam style” (in a lyrical eggcorn admission, I always heard it as Rope ’Em) means Big Brother is tragically hip, insinuating that the genuinely fashionable would never need to proclaim it and is poking fun at posers. During the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the song was temporarily restricted from being play in a gymnasium setting due to its beats per minute exceeding the one-twenty BPM ceiling health authorities introduced to discourage people from becoming too energzed by the music and breath and more intensely. Once it surpassed two billion one hundred forty seven million four hundred eighty three thousand six hundred forty-seven (231-1, a Mersenne prime number whereas Mn = 2n-1) views, Youtube realised it needed to upgrade to sixty-four bit integers to store those counts.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

summer school

Sponsored and proposed by mathematics professor John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky (co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Nathaniel Rochester (computer engineer who designed IBM’s first commercial mainframe) and Claude Shannon, the extended brainstorming called the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence began on this day (or possibly 10 July) in 1956 and lasted eight weeks and was the foundational event that formed the field. The undirected group project, interspersed with lectures, broached the topics of computing, natural language processing, cognition, abstract concepts and neural networks and entertained various frameworks for testing their ideas—including playing chess against a machine. AI@50 was held at the same venue with half of the original delegates and attendees in 2006 to look back and reassess the challenges encountered and to better temper their understanding of the future.

Monday, 11 July 2022

avogadro’s number

First outlined in his treatise on the molecular content of gases published on this day in 1811, Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo Avogadro, Count of Quaregna and Cerreto, posited that the volume of a gas—at a given temperature and pressure—is proportional to the number of atoms or molecules in that volume whatever the kind of gas. The law or value named in his honour was first presented in a public forum by fellow scientist Stanislao Cannizzaro at the Karlsruhe Congress on Atomic Weights, four years after Avogadro’s death—with later developments and refinements from Josef Loschimdt and Jean Baptiste Jean Perrin. Defined initially as the number of molecules in sixteen grams of oxygen (the molar mass, SI unit the Mole from the German Molekรผl as a measure of substance, a count of particles), corresponding to the inverse of its relative atomic mass, and derives the constant N = 6,022 140 76 × 1023. This led to insights in fluid dynamics, ideal gases and the concept of absolute zero in terms of temperature and atomic excitement.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

cosmic call

The latter of two sets of interstellar radio missives were beamed out to the Cosmos on this day in 2003 from the RT-70 (Radio Telescope with an aerial antenna with a seventy metre diameter and former Soviet Centre for Deep Space Communications) located in Yevpatoria, Crimea. This iteration and the first message sent in 1999 follow the same bitmap structure and include the Dutil-Dumas primer about mathematics, universal constants, chemical elements and physics plus the Arecibo Messages, the Braastad Message (to illustrate concepts of family and procreation, similar to the plaque on Pioneer) and contributions from the staff and public. Transmitted at four hundred bits per second, the message was beamed out over the span of eleven hours and targeted five diverse stars with known exoplanets, with the first arrival date of April 2036 at Gliese 49 ฮฒ, a superearth orbiting a red dwarf star.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

orbital mechanics

Enunciated for the first time the following year after some concerted fact-checking and re-taking measurements since the outcome seemed to elegant to be true, Johannes Kepler discovered the last of his three laws of planetary motion on this day in 1618, capturing the relationship between the distance of a astronomical body from its host star and the time it takes to complete a trip around it: that is, the value of the cube of the semi-major axis divided by the square of a planet’s orbital period is a constant—for our solar system. The publication was also delayed due to rather laborious attempts to reconcile his formula with the theory of the music of the spheres (see here and also above), thus making this third discovery known as the harmonic law.

Friday, 13 May 2022

unvollstรคndigkeitssatz

Futility Closet relates an anecdote from the live of mathematician Kurt Gรถdel in residence at Princeton University Institute for Advanced Studies and his friendship with fellow resident scholars physicists Albert Einstein (previously) John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern, whom felt obliged to make sure their younger charge’s tendency for over-thinking remained an asset and not his undoing and monitored Gรถdel’s preparation for the US citizenship exam in 1947, Einstein himself naturalised seven years earlier. The prodigal and influential logistician widely settled the impossibility of formulating a self-consistent and complete set of rules governing all of mathematics at the tender age of twenty-five, Gรถdel assayed the project of his examination with signature tenacity and revealed to his wardens that in his research, he had uncovered a fatal-flaw in the American constitution that could led to dictatorship, the corruption and consequence of totalitarian democracy. Einstein and company implored him not to share this discovery and the test was actually a much simpler affair, though basic civics and recent history might have suggested otherwise. The proctor for the citizenship test inquired of Gรถdel his state of origin and its form of government—to which Gรถdel replied Austria and a republic, but owed that “the constitution was such that it soon become a dictatorship.” Despite the examiner’s insistence that the same could not happen in the USA and Gรถdel’s refutation with the offer of proof, the panel stuck to the business at hand and conducted the test. No mention was made in their collective memoirs what that finding might have been and we suppose won’t know it until it’s happened.

Monday, 9 May 2022

orbital resonance

Though the Octave of Easter refers to a specific eight-day celebration in connect to the Paschaltide, our

word week itself (via the German Woche) derives from the same root as octave and that one out-of-cycle unit of time—that is, seemingly the sequence repeated for countless generations not determined by the motion of the Heavens or our perception of them but nonetheless in most Western and Eastern traditions named for the astronomical objects visible to the unaided eye. The ordering does not accord with the classical model of the Cosmos—the “Chaldean order” that describes the apparent overtaking and retrograde motion relative to the Earth—nor hierarchy of the pantheon, however, but rather the seven strings of the Mesopotamian lyre with which the celestial spheres were thought to harmonise: (4) Sunday ☉, (1) Monday ☽, (5) Tuesday ♂ (Mardi in French), (2) Wednesday ☿ (Mercoledรฌ), (6) Thursday ♃ (Donnerstag), (3) Friday ♀ (Venres) and (7) Saturday ♄. Vexed somewhat by the onerous and complicated Roman subdivision of the days and the planetary officer appointed to each hours, the order of the weekdays seemingly recapitulates musical theory and progression through the major scale. More at the links above and in this video adaptation below from Sara de Rose.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

gรฉodรฉsie

Celebrated astronomer and geologist Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre on this day in 1792 undertook his commission to precisely define the metre, a universal measure defined as one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator, organising an expedition to measure the length of the meridian arc (distance—the two cities being on the same line of longitude) between Dunkirk and Rodez, by Toulouse in the south of France, mathematically extrapolating from that value, and then from Rodez to Barcelona’s Fortress of Montjuรฏc. The survey mission took six years beset by technical set-backs, bouts of yellow fever and the French Revolution, including several unfortunate incarcerations by Royalist elements. Precise measurements were taken with a device called a repeating circle ( cercle rรฉpรฉtiteur ), invented by machinist Etienne Lenoir originally for Jean-Charles de Borda and improved for Delambre and team. Finally in 1799, the metre was formally defined as 0.514074 Parisien toise (from the Latin tender—that is the span of the outstretched arms, six feet) or three feet and eleven lignes—a historical unit that was approximately one twelfth of an inch and still used by watchmakers to size casings and in button-manufacturing.