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Posts Tagged ‘topography

“Math is sometimes called the science of patterns”*…

 

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From Katie Steckles, help for the Holidays…

Special Holiday bonus:  the story behind those massive bows that bedeck cars given as Holiday presents.

* Ronald Graham

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As we fold with care, we might recall that it was on this date in 1937 that Walt Disney released the first full-length animated feature film produced in the U.S. (and the first produced anywhere in full color), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The original theatrical one-sheet

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Written by LW

December 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal”*…

 

During the period we now call the fin-de-siècle, worlds collided. Ideas were being killed off as much as being born. And in a sort of Hegelian logic of thesis/antithesis/synthesis, the most interesting ones arose as the offspring of wildly different parents. In particular, the last gasp of Victorian spirituality infused cutting-edge science with a certain sense of old-school mysticism. Theosophy was all the rage; Huysmans dragged Satan into modern Paris; and eccentric poets and scholars met in the British Museum Reading Room under the aegis of the Golden Dawn for a cup of tea and a spot of demonology. As a result of all this, certain commonly-accepted scientific terms we use today came out of quite weird and wonderful ideas being developed at the turn of the century. Such is the case with space, which fascinated mathematicians, philosophers, and artists with its unfathomable possibilities…

Further to yesterday’s nod to topography, and on the occasion of Halloween: hyperspace, ghosts, and colorful cubes – the work of Charles Howard Hinton and the cultural history of higher dimensions– “Notes on the Fourth Dimension.”

* H. P. Lovecraft, The Tomb

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As we get down with the dead, we might recall that it was on this date in 1756 that Giacomo Casanova, who had been incarcerated in Venice as a blasphemer, cabalist, seducer, and ruffian, escaped from prison.  He made his way to Paris where, as “Jacques Casanova, the Chevalier de Seingalt,” he wrote his autobiography, launched the lottery, and made a killing.

Illustration in Casanova’s Histoire de ma fuite des prisons de la République de Venise qu’on appelle Les Plombs (Story of my Flight), 1787. From the German edition, 1788.

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Casanova circa 1750-1755 (just before the escape)

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Written by LW

October 31, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Life is like topography”*…

 

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What if you could see Earth’s 5-billion year journey not just in a book or on screen, but on the planet’s very topography? That’s the idea behind the audio-visual performance Revolution of Topography, Cappadocia: Epic History of Humanity, which features 3D animations projection mapped onto the rocky surface of the Cappadocia Zelve Valley.

Produced by FikirbazZenger and directed by Ferdi Alıcı, Revolution of Topography has been billed as the world’s “largest mountain surface mapping”; and, with a 10-year screening time, will run for longer than any other projection mapping installation in history. The a/v installation, located at Cappadocia Zelve Valley Open Air Museum, will run through all phases of Cappadocia’s history, from geographical formation and topographical transformations to the emergence of civilization and religion…

More at “Mapping a Valley with Earth’s 5-Billion Year Journey.”

* “Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure.”

– “Calvin,” Bill Watterson

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As we take the long view, we might send spatially-sophisticated birthday greetings to William Paul Thurston; he was born on this date in 1946.  A pioneer in the field of low-dimensional topology, he was awarded the 1982 Fields Medal for his contributions to the study of 3-manifolds.  In later years, while his research continued, Thurston took on the challenge of  mathematical popularization and education. He served as mathematics editor for Quantum Magazine, a youth science magazine, and was one of the founders of The Geometry Center.  As director of Mathematical Sciences Research Institute from 1992 to 1997, he started a number of programs designed to increase awareness of mathematics among the public.

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Written by LW

October 30, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time,’ so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance”*…

 

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

― A.A. Milne

How to prepare an essential– and exciting– part of any mathematically-correct breakfast…

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* Steven Wright

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As we tangle tastefully with topography, we might spare a thought for Simon Willard; he died on this date in 1848.  A master clockmaker who created grandfather clocks and lobby/gallery clocks, Willard is best remembered for his creation of the timepiece that came to be known as the banjo clock, a wall clock that Willard patented in 1802.  Only 4,000 authentic “Simon Willard banjo clocks” were made; and while he had many imitators turning out replicas, these originals are highly-prized collectibles.

Banjo Clock

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Simon Willard

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Written by LW

August 30, 2014 at 1:01 am

Knowing when to hold ’em; knowing when to fold ’em…

 

The documentary Holy Rollers follows the rise of the Church Team, arguably the largest and most well-funded blackjack team in North America. This unlikely group of Christians, pastors, worship leaders and church-planters mastered the art of card counting and marched into traditionally forbidden territory – casinos – to beat the house at it’s own game to the tune of millions of dollars.

It all started as a hobby for two friends, Ben and Colin, who wanted to do something interesting with their math skills and investment money. After making a living off blackjack for a several years, friends and family started asking to be trained as card counters under their professional blackjack expertise. Before long, word spread through church circles and an uncommon fellowship began to form. Led by team managers Ben & Colin, the team quickly grew to include more than 25 players based all over the United States.

In their first year, the Church Team acquired a bankroll of $1.5 million from outside investors, and the team was winning $100,000 a month. In spite of the team’s phenomenal success, many team members remained conflicted, wrestling with how to justify being a Christian and playing blackjack for a living. They found themselves at odds with their own families, congregants, and fellow Christians who feared that they were wandering into morally bankrupt territory.

When the team’s winnings decrease drastically, questions start being raised as to whether someone from the team might be stealing from the bankroll. Where trust is sacred and God sees all, is it even possible? Of course. But do they trust the players on their team? Absolutely. Maybe.

More, on the film’s web site.

 

As we decide to stand, we might wish a twisted Happy Birthday to the theoretical astronomer and mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius; he was born on this date in 1790.  While Möbius made many contributions to geometry (e.g., the Möbius configuration, the Möbius transform, and the Möbius function), he is surely best remembered for his nifty Möbius Strip– a two-dimensional surface with only one side.

A Möbius strip made with a piece of paper and tape. If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed every part of the strip (on both sides of the original paper) without ever crossing an edge.

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Written by LW

November 17, 2011 at 1:01 am

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