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Posts Tagged ‘xkcd

Well, it’s true that they both react poorly to showers…


Randall Munroe (xkcd) riffs on the same chatbot-to-chatbot conversation featured here some days ago…


As we celebrate our essential humanity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1900 that Jesse Lazear, a then-34-year-old physician working in Cuba to understand the transmission of yellow fever, experimented on himself, allowing himself to be bitten by infected mosquitoes.  His death two weeks later confirmed that mosquitoes are in fact the carriers of the disease.



Correlation = Causality?…



As we think not, we might recall that it was on this date in 356 BCE that the Temple of Artemis (AKA the Temple of Diana) in Ephesus– reputedly the first Greek temple built of marble, sponsored by Croesus,  and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World– was destroyed by a fire set in its roof beams.

Model of Temple of Artemis, Miniatürk Park, Istanbul (source)

Site in Ephesus today (source)

In lieu of a graduation address…

… from xkcd:

As we avoid looking too closely at the faces of our watches, we might recall that it was on this date in 1921 at the White House that President Warren G. Harding presented Marie Curie with a gram of radium (worth $100,000 at the time).   Curie died in 1934 of aplastic anemia contracted from exposure to radiation.  Her laboratory is preserved at the Musée Curie.  But because of their levels of radioactivity, her papers are considered too dangerous to handle, and are kept in lead-lined boxes; those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing.

Curie, with Harding at the White House (source)

Boo! (It’s that time again…)

…from the always-amusing xkcd.  (The last panel? The Banach-Tarski Paradox:  explained here; illustrated here.  The “Axiom of Choice”– of which the the B-T Paradox is a case– is explained here.)

As we gird ourselves for the season of horrors, we might recall that it was on this date in 1483 that Tomás de Torquemada was appointed Inquisitor General of Spain (at the behest of Queen Isabella, whose confessor he had been).  Called “the hammer of heretics, the light of Spain, the saviour of his country, the honor of his order” by Spanish chronicler Sebastián de Olmedo, Torquemada was a key advocate for the Alhambra Decree (Ferdinand’s and Isabella’s expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492) and a zealous prosecutor of “crypto-Jews” and “crypto-Muslims.”  While the precise number of deaths on his watch is a matter of debate, there is a general agreement that, between 1480 and 1530, about 2000 people burned in the autos-de-fé of the Spanish Inquisition.



What you do know can hurt you…

From the ever-entertaining xkcd, a behavioral analog to the Monty Hall Problem (and the variation considered here a couple of weeks ago)…

As we reconsider the odds, we might recall that it was on this date in 1777 that Swiss mathematician, physicist, and astronomer Johann Heinrich Lambert died in Berlin.  Lambert, who was only 49 when he passed, made a number of contributions to scientific knowledge; but he is probably best remembered for the first proof (in 1768) that pi is irrational (that’s to say, can’t be expressed as the quotient of two integers).

Johann Heinrich Lambert

Written by LW

September 25, 2010 at 12:01 am

Show your work…

From the always-amusing xkcd

As we contemplate coincidence, we might pause to remember Chester Greenwood, who died on this date in 1937.  One of the Smithsonian Institution’s “America’s 15 Outstanding Inventors,” Greenwood created the bottom whistling kettle, the mechanical mouse trap, and the spring steel rake, among many other indispensables.  But he is best remembered as the inventor (at age 15) of earmuffs.  By his mid-twenties, he had a factory and 11 workers producing Greenwood Champion Ear Protectors in his hometown of Farmington, ME, producing 50,000 earmuffs yearly; output grew to 400,000 pairs by the year he died. In 1977, the Maine state legislature officially declared the first day of Winter, December 21, “Chester Greenwood Day,”  which Farmington celebrates with a parade.

Chester Greenwood

No BONES about it…

From the ever-entertaining (and insightful) xkcd.  (As to the allusion in the title of this post… a weakness to which your correspondent will confess.)

As we recalibrate our expectations of our instruments, we might acknowledge imprecision-in-practice, as it was on this date in 2001 that a Joint Session of Congress (with then Vice President Al Gore presiding) certified the election of George W. Bush…

at work

And in an example of synchronicity that would light Arthur Koestler’s eyes, this was also the date on which, in 1936, Porky Pig made his debut in his commonly-known form in Tex Avery’s Gold Diggers of ’49.  Porky had been introduced the prior year, but in a younger, quieter, and thinner incarnation, by Bob Clampitt (of later Beany and Cecil renown).  Porky was voiced in (and immediately following) Avery’s toon by Joe Dougherty, who actually did have a stuttering problem.  But because Dougherty could not control his stutter,  his recording sessions took hours. Thus, the extraordinary Mel Blanc replaced Dougherty in 1937.

What more is there to say?…

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