(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘laws

“What’s in a name?”*…

Poe’s Law –  “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.”

Cohen’s Law – “Whoever resorts to the argument that ‘whoever resorts to the argument that… …has automatically lost the debate’ has automatically lost the debate.”

Badger’s Law –  “any website with the word “Truth” in the URL has none in the posted content.”

Lewis’ Law – “The comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

Time Cube Law –  “As the length of a webpage grows linearly, the likelihood of the author being a lunatic increases exponentially.”

A small selection of entries in “Eponymous Laws Part I: Laws of the Internet,” from @RogersBacon1.

[Image above: source]

* Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


As we go to school on the laws, we might send carefully-composed birthday greetings to Jean Sammet; she was born on this date in 1928. A pioneer in computing, she left a career as a professor of mathematics at the University of Illinois to join IBM, where she developed the computer programming language FORMAC, an extension to FORTRAN IV that was the first commonly used language for manipulating non-numeric algebraic expressions. She also wrote one of the classic histories of programming languages, Programming Languages: History and Fundamentals.


“Why should things be easy to understand?”*…


Dunning-Kruger Effect

The less competent an individual is at a specific task, the more likely they are to over-estimate their ability at that task.

Sure, ignorance is bliss. But being convinced you’re an expert at something, even though actually you’re ignorant — DAYUM — that’s the the best thing ever. People with poor abilities at some task can sometimes mistakenly believe that they are much more skilled at the task then they actually are. Examples of this are everywhere, from people who have never played a sport before, but just know they’ll be great at it, to people who’ve had one semester of french back in high school, but have no doubt that when the plane lands in Paris they’ll be able to talk like a native…

More on this all-too-timely phenomenon here— one the regular entries in Chris Spurgeon‘s marvelous newsletter, The Laws of the Universe, a regular series of postings…

Every once in a while — very rarely in the grand scheme of things — someone figures out how a tiny, tiny bit of the universe works. Through this newsletter I celebrate these discoveries, and the people they’re named after.

These tiny discoveries are known by many terms — laws, rules, constants, principles, theorems, effects. And they pop up in all areas of human endeavors — science of course, but also law and politics, arts and entertainment, popular culture and everyday life. Hubble’s Law, Dunbar’s Number, the Barbara Streisand Effect, Murphy’s Law — they’re all fair game. The only rules are:

1) the law must be named for someone, and
2) the law must shine a tiny bit of light onto one tiny bit of how the universe operates.

Browse the archive (and sign up) here.

* Thomas Pynchon


As we revel in rules, we might spare a thought for Gregor Johann Mendel; he died on this date in 1884.  After a profoundly-unpromising start, Mendel became a scientist, Augustinian friar, and abbot of St. Thomas’ Abbey in Brno, Moravia (today’s Czech Republic).  A botanist and plant experimenter, he was the first to lay the mathematical foundation of the science of genetics (of which he is now consider the “Father”).  Over the period 1856-63, Mendel grew and analyzed over 28,000 pea plants.  He carefully studied for each their height, pod shape, pod color, flower position, seed color, seed shape and flower color– and from those observations derived two very important generalizations, known today as the Laws of Heredity.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 6, 2017 at 1:01 am

Now let us praise famous men (and women)…


From Aitken’s to Zipf’s— some of them coined by their namesake (e.g., Parkinson’s); others, based on their work or publications (a la Moore’s): consider the rules, adages, observations, and predictions that make up The List of Eponymous Laws.


As we take the oath, we might spare a thought for Persian polymath Omar Khayyam; the philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, epigrammatist, and poet died on this date in 1131.  While he’s probably best known to English-speakers as a poet, via Edward FitzGerald’s famous translation of the quatrains that comprise the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Omar was one of the major mathematicians and astronomers of the medieval period.  He is the author of one of the most important treatises on algebra written before modern times, the Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra, which includes a geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle.  His astronomical observations contributed to the reform of the Persian calendar.  And he made important contributions to mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology, and Islamic theology.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 4, 2013 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: