A Candle in the Dark

A look on science, politics, religion and events

Archive for January 2008

If Christmas wasn’t enough

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For those interested, the entire proclamation can be found here.

So, does that mean December 25th is now officially Newton Day?


Written by parseval

January 30, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Posted in humour

Derren Brown demonstrates the power of cold reading

with 2 comments

Written by parseval

January 27, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Posted in pseudoscience

It’s true

with one comment

The United Kingdom actually has a blasphemy law.

Q: What actually constitutes blasphemous libel?

During a private prosecution in 1977, the trial judge said blasphemous libel was committed if a publication about God, Christ, the Christian religion or the Bible used words which were scurrilous, abusive or offensive, which vilified Christianity and might lead to a breach of the peace.

However, it looks like this law will be rescinded soon.

Meanwhile, in democratic Afghanistan,

Afghan reporter accused of blasphemy sentenced to death: official

A court in devoutly Islamic Afghanistan has sentenced a local journalist to death for blasphemy, an official and family members said Wednesday.

“Based on the crimes Perwiz Kambakhsh committed, the primary court yesterday sentenced him to the most serious punishment which is the death penalty,” Balkh province deputy attorney general Hafizullah Khaliqyar told AFP.

The tendentious attorney general also said,

“Journalists are supporting Kambakhsh. I will arrest any journalist trying to support him after this,” he said.

Ah, the subtle differences between democracies.

Written by parseval

January 23, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Posted in fact, politics, religion

Literal Peril

with 7 comments

In the news recently,

A man in the US state of Idaho cut off his hand with a circular saw and cooked it in the microwave because he believed he bore ‘the mark of the beast’, US police said.

The man, who has not been named, called emergency services to inform authorities that he had cut off his hand and was severely bleeding.

But hey, the poor guy is just probably adhering to the rules of “The Book”.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Matthew 5:30

Does anyone know if it was his “right hand”? Besides, I don’t think cooking it in a microwave technically qualifies as “throwing it away”. Unless he believes that he’s burning away that sinful hand to hell.

Pity that no one handed out advice to him that such passages are nearly always allegorical, and shouldn’t be interpreted literally, especially when they seem stupid.

Written by parseval

January 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Posted in wacky

Fast writing method

with 2 comments

Excerpt taken from the book, Decrypted Secrets: Methods and Maxims of Cryptology by Friedrich Ludwig Bauer, Springer Press.

He must have had a special trick, said Robert K. Merton, for he
wrote such an amazing quantity of material that his friends were
simply astonished at his prodigious output of long manuscripts,
the contents of which were remarkable and fascinating, from the
first simple lines, over fluently written pages where word after
word flowed relentlessly onward, where ideas tumbled in a riot
of colorful and creative imagery, to ends that stopped abruptly,
each script more curiously charming than its predecessors, each
line more whimsically apposite, yet unexpected, than the lines
on which it built, ever onward, striving toward a resolution in
a wonderland of playful verbosity. Fuller could write page after
page so fluently as to excite the envy of any writers less gifted
and creative than he. At last, one day, he revealed his secret,
then died a few days later. He collected a group of acolytes and
filled their glasses, then wrote some words on a sheet of paper,
in flowing script. He invited his friends to puzzle a while over
the words and departed. One companion took a pen and told the
rest to watch. Fuller returned to find the page filled with words
of no less charm than those that graced his own writings. Thus
the secret was revealed, and Fuller got drunk. He died, yet still a
space remains in the library for his collected works.

If you didn’t figure it out as an acrostic yet, click here to learn the special trick.

[Note: The formatting is important. If you’re reading the feed in a RSS reader, the text won’t come properly.]

Written by parseval

January 6, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Posted in fun

Nerd Sniping

with 5 comments

From xkcd,

Click to actually read it

So, how does one find the effective resistance?

The solution to this question, and many other network shapes, is present in Jozsef Cserti’s paper1.

Additionally, this website2 also clearly explains the technique to find the general equivalent resistance between any two nodes. The resistance between the two marked nodes in the xkcd question is,

\frac{1}{4 \pi^2} \int_{-\pi}^{\pi} \int_{-\pi}^{\pi} \left( \frac{1-\cos(2x+y)}{2-\cos{x} - \cos{y}} \right) dx dy

which turns out to be \frac{8-\pi}{2 \pi}. Check out Appendix A of Cserti’s paper for a technique to evaluate the above integral.

External Links
[1] – Application of the lattice Green’s function for calculating the resistance of an infinite network of resistors, Cserti József, American Journal of Physics, Volume 68, Issue 10, pp. 896-906 (2000). arXiv:cond-mat/9909120v4
[2] – Infinite 2D square grid of 1 ohm resistors

Written by parseval

January 3, 2008 at 12:02 am

Posted in humour, mathematics