Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The longest word in English

This post turned out to be surprisingly popular, so I rewrote it to include not only the longest word but also a few other linguistic anomalies - a hill name 85 letters long for example. Happy reading...


The longest word turned out to be a scientific one, a full name of a protein - Titin, also known as connectin. It is 189,819 letters long. Professional dictionary writers regard generic names of chemical compounds as verbal formula rather than as English words, so it is a bit disputable if this can be viewed as a true word. it is too long to post here, so I am posting a shorter one instead - this one is only 1185 letters long:
I didn't even tried to read it or to pronounce it. This is however a perfectly real word and an example to the problems scientists have when they are out of words.

The longest word coined by a major author is a name of a fictional dish (183 letters):


For a long time it was the longest word known.

The longest officially recognized place name is a name of a hill in New Zealand (85 letters):


The name is often shortened to Taumata by the locals for ease of conversation. It translates roughly as "The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his nose flute to his loved one".

Also the longest nontechnical word is (29 letters):


It is "the act or habit of estimating or describing something as worthless, or making something to be worthless by deprecation". This word is frequently used in maths and maths related subjects.
The is some disute about this word status - as of now wikipedia claims that the longest non coined and not technical word is (28 letters):


It is a political position that originated in nineteenth-century Britain, where antidisestablishmentarians were opposed to proposals to remove the Church of England's status as the state church of England forwarded principally by both Payne and Tuffin.)

Source - wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Funny quotes

“Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.” -- Bertrand Russell

“Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things.” -- J. H. Poincare

"Mathematics consists in proving the most obvious thing in the least obvious way." -- George Polya

"A tragedy of mathematics is a beautiful conjecture ruined by an ugly fact.”

"If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is."

“Mathematics is like love; a simple idea, but it can get complicated.”

"Obvious is the most dangerous word in mathematics." -- E.T. Bell

"Mathematics is not a deductive science – that's a cliché. When you try to prove a theorem, you don't just list the hypotheses, and then start to reason. What you do is trial and error, experimentation, guesswork." -- Paul Halmos

"Small minds discuss persons. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas. Really great minds discuss mathematics."

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field.
Quoted in A L Mackay, Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (London 1994)

I consider that I understand an equation when I can predict the properties of its solutions, without actually solving it.
Quoted in F Wilczek, B Devine, Longing for the Harmonies

This result is too beautiful to be false; it is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment.
The evolution of the Physicist's Picture of Nature Scientific American 208 (5) (1963)

What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school... It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does.
QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, (London, 1990) 9.

And the most important one:
God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world. Paul Dirac