Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A bit of random staff

This post is a collection of links/reviews of some random (but interesting) staff I found on the web. I never did such a post on Math Pages before so we will see how it goes.

Firstly, a bit of humor. This ad was apparently seen and photographed somewhere in the USA:

It is hard to say what was the reason behind this ad - perhaps they simply didn't want anyone to come? I wonder if to actually get the help you need to past a reading test (being able to read 200 words per minute for example).

Also apparently somebody recently did an upgrade to Mathematics - we are now on version 2.12. I never heard about version 2, but from the release notes (if link doesn't work - download .txt here) it seems a good joke (written in bold because some people failed to understand it).
Examples of the fixes in the new version:
1. Pi now equals exactly 3.
2. The term "negative number" has been deemed offensive. The term "non-positive non-zero number" is now in use.
3. Fixed problem where 1 = .999...
4. Removed the Proof By Contradiction exploit.
5. Users may now enter the paradise Cantor created for us for a nominal monthly fee.

Now to some serious staff. For some reason I stumbled on a lot of surprisingly interesting articles this week - mostly about physics. What is also good about them is that they are very well written and explained. Enjoy:

Maxwell: Thermodynamics meets the demon - a very detailed explanation of what the Maxwell demon is. Also includes a short overview of the development of Thermodynamics.

Fusion 2.0 - "Fusion could one day generate limitless cheap energy from little more than water, while emitting no greenhouse gases. We look at its promise as the ultimate power panacea for a warming world." There are currently plans to build a large fusion reactor in France. It is expected to generate 500MW and the construction cost is 10 billion euros. It is easy to see from these numbers that this is a scientific experiment and not an economically feasible solution to the energy crisis - but it may prove to be a very important step.

The Mechanical Battery - the main idea is very simple. Instead of storing energy in a regular battery in chemical form why not store energy in a rotating wheel? This may sound very strange, but the idea is based on the fact that rotating objects store energy in direct proportion to their mass and RPM. The end result is more much more friendlier to the environment that batteries, and such a wheel can be both charged and recharged in a very short time without damaging itself. Perhaps, this technology will finally provide the necessary power for creating electrical cars...

Firefox God
- over 300 excellent extensions in different categories. If you are using Firefox, it is a good idea to visit this page.

Million dollar problems
- A list of the million dollar problems in math. They are all explained is a simple enough way.

Unsolved problems in physics - a very large and interesting list.

It would be a good idea to finish this post with something serious, but I didn't post anything funny for a long time so instead I will write about this page - 101 More Great Computer Quotes. Examples:

"I do not fear computers. I fear lack of them."
– Isaac Asimov

"A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing."
– Emo Philips

"Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant."
– Mitchell Kapor

"Programming can be fun, so can cryptography; however they should not be combined."
– Kreitzberg and Shneiderman

"Don't document the problem, fix it."
– Atli Björgvin Oddsson

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