Posts Tagged ‘puzzles’
Random numbers are central to more than we may realize. They have applications in gambling, statistical sampling, computer simulation and Monte Carlo modeling, cryptography (as applied in both communications and transactions), completely randomized design, even sooth-saying– in any area where producing an unpredictable result is desirable. So how they’re produced– the certainty that they are, in fact, random– matters enormously.
It’s no surprise, then, that random number generation has a long and fascinating history. Happily, Carl Tashian is here to explain.
“As an instrument for selecting at random, I have found nothing superior to dice,” wrote statistician Francis Galton in an 1890 issue of Nature. “When they are shaken and tossed in a basket, they hurtle so variously against one another and against the ribs of the basket-work that they tumble wildly about, and their positions at the outset afford no perceptible clue to what they will be even after a single good shake and toss.”…
From I Ching sticks and dice to the cryptographically-secure PRNG, “A Brief History of Random Numbers.”
[TotH to the eminently-numerate Reuben Steiger]
As we roll the bones, we might spare a thought for Samuel “Sam” Loyd; he died on this date in 1911. A chess player, chess composer, puzzle author, and recreational mathematician. A member of the Chess Hall of Fame (for both his play and for his exercises, or “problems”), he gained posthumous fame when his son published a collection of his mathematical and logic puzzles, Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles after his father’s death. As readers can see here and here, his puzzles still delight.
Loyd’s most famous puzzle was the 14-15 Puzzle, which he produced in 1878. His original authorship is debated; but in any case, his version created a craze that swept America to such an extent that employers put up notices prohibiting playing the puzzle during office hours.
Film is one of the three universal languages, the other two: mathematics and music.
– Frank Capra
Can you figure out these movie titles?
As we wonder if this is what “transitive” means, we might send burnished birthday greetings to Maxwell Perkins; he was born on this date in 1884. Probably the most famous literary editor of all time, Perkins discovered, assisted, promoted, and/or otherwise mentored many of the most important American writers of the first half of the Twentieth Century including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ring Lardner, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Erskine Caldwell, Edmund Wilson, James Jones, Vance Bourjaily, and (especially) Thomas Wolfe.
The legend in the map above has been removed. Try guessing what it signifies using only clues contained within the map—the relationships between color-coded regions, say.
(One clue to get you started: The map doesn’t analyze “gross national” anything.)
The answer is here.
As we we recall that context is everything, we might we might spare a thought for Jean Cocteau; he died on this date in 1963. An avatar of the avant-garde, Cocteau was a prolific poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker… and a passionate friend (and often more) to the likes of Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Yul Brynner, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, María Félix, and Édith Piaf. He is probably best remembered for his novel Les Enfants Terribles, and his films Blood of a Poet, Les Parents Terribles, Beauty and the Beast, and Orpheus.
Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, originally entitled “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” has been a Christmas staple since it’s publication (in The New York Sentinel) on December 23, 1823. But it has surely never been as deeply explored nor as richly interpreted as by the director of Caves Of Forgotten Dreams, Encounters At The End Of The World, and Grizzly Man:
Readers might also enjoy Germany’s cinematic treasure reading Curious George, Where’s Waldo, and Madeline… just visit Ryan Iverson’s “Stupid is the New Awesome” channel on You Tube.
As we sigh at the Existential ennui of it all, we might recall that it was exactly 90 years later– on this date in 1913– that Arthur Wynne’s “word-cross,” the first crossword puzzle, was published in the New York World:
2-3. What bargain hunters enjoy. 6-22. What we all should be.
4-5. A written acknowledgment. 4-26. A day dream.
6-7. Such and nothing more. 2-11. A talon.
10-11. A bird. 19-28. A pigeon.
14-15. Opposed to less. F-7. Part of your head.
18-19. What this puzzle is. 23-30. A river in Russia.
22-23. An animal of prey. 1-32. To govern.
26-27. The close of a day. 33-34. An aromatic plant.
28-29. To elude. N-8. A fist.
30-31. The plural of is. 24-31. To agree with.
8-9. To cultivate. 3-12. Part of a ship.
12-13. A bar of wood or iron. 20-29. One.
16-17. What artists learn to do. 5-27. Exchanging.
20-21. Fastened. 9-25. To sink in mud.
24-25. Found on the seashore. 13-21. A boy.
10-18. The fibre of the gomuti palm.