Update: the comprehensive Hplus art homepage.

Checkout this new ravishing online transhumanist webzine, edited by Mr. R. U. Sirius!

Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 12:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mathemagical Steam

[From the archives of a quiz conducted at Engineer 2007, NITK]

A quiz about History of Mathematics & Men of Mathematics– by SatyaVrat, Nanga Fakir, Nitesh Kumar. Answers are invited in the comment section.

1. We’ll start off with an easy one: Highly respected card and tricks magician, one of the greatest recreational mathematicians, known for his outspoken sceptic nature towards junk and pseudoscience, writer of very famous long running columns in Scientific American, whose anagram is the title of this quiz. Identify the name of column and the mathematician. (No marks for column identification only).

2. Many regard Gauss as the greatest mathematician of all times, but Gauss maintained these three as the greatest- Newton, Archimedes, and _________ (a relatively unfamiliar name, recognised for his work in Abstract Algebra).

3. X= (1-Δ.s)+ Δ.Tx is the equation that is the core of perhaps the most ubiquitous algorithm today. It will not be an exaggeration to say that most of us eat, live and breathe this algorithm. What is it?

4. This great mathematician, who did brilliant work in logic & theoretical computer science, died a very unusual death, i.e. by eating an apple (that was cyanide coated). Can you name him?

5. Connect- UCLA Math Major/ Fred Savage/ ‘How I met your mother’/ “Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin– Teller models on Z.”

6. They say that even the greatest logician is after all an ordinary mortal. So there was this man, and amongst his delusions was the belief that unknown villains were trying to kill him by poisoning his food. For this reason, he would only eat his wife’s cooking, refusing to eat even his own; this, in particular, would cause him to starve to death after the death of his wife. Can you guess who are we talking about?

7. Studied particle physics in Cambridge, worked in CERN, author of widely acclaimed bestsellers related to mathematics, and is presently a popular TV/radio broadcaster in Britain. He has been popularizing science and mathematics and his book ______ is perhaps the only book ever about mathematics that grabbed the no. 1 bestseller spot in UK. Also awarded the prestigious Order of the British Empire and sports a Mohican haircut. Identify the guy.

8. “… suddenly, totally unexpectedly, I had this incredible revelation. It was the most important moment of my working life. Nothing I ever do again will mean as much … it was so indescribably beautiful, it was so simple and so elegant, and I just stared in disbelief for twenty minutes, then during the day I walked round the department. I’d keep coming back to my desk to see it was still there – it was still there.”
Identify the speaker & put funda.


Widely regarded as Einstein’s successor in the role of greatest living physicist, he is also a brilliant mathematician & is called the father of modern string theory; works at Institute of Advanced Institutes, Princeton. You could have spotted him in the series ‘The Elegant Universe’. Identify.


Born in Kanpur, he did PhD under Paul Dirac, fellow of Institute of Advanced Institutes, Princeton, an IBM-von Neumann Prof. there, FRS. A famous Indian institute is named after him in Allahabad. Can you guess who is he?

11. Although one of finest pure mathematician of century, got recognition for very applied field. Invented board game Hex, said to be a sexual fanatic and gay (part time gay, we mean!). His biography is considered to be one of the finest ever written. Identify.

12. American president Garfield one of the few American Presidents who was assassinated, gave an alternative proof of this famous theorem. Can you guess what theorem are we talking about?

13. This movie is said to be inspired by the life of Ramanujan, the screenwriter admitted in an interview. He subsequently picked up the Oscar for best screenplay. Name the movie.

14. This man, when on an evening walk with his wife, suddenly got struck with a thought and fearing that he might lose this, wrote a few equations on a bridge nearby. Later this formed groundwork for one of the most far reaching mathematical discovery. Who was the man, and what did he write?

15. A renowned Indian professor, known for his contribution for a famous Number theory algorithm, considered by many to the only revolutionary work to have come out of India in the recent past, was awarded Clay Maths Award recently. Name him.

16. One of greatest mathematician of 20th century, his name resembles with another (even greater) mathematician. Largely worked in solitudes/prison, did pioneering work in algebraic geometry and number theory. Spent 2 years at Aligarh Muslim University in 1930, was keen in Sanskrit literature. Any guess?

17. Connect- A.I./ Stephen Hawking/______ Tilings/ Chess Grandmaster/ Knighthood.

18. Ralph Alpher, Hans Bethe and ______ were regarded as the α, β, γ of theoretical physics in mid 20th century. γ is also known for a cult book on popular science and was awarded the “Kalinga” Prize for popularization of Science by the UN. Who is γ and name the book?

19. FRS, Padma Vibushan, outspoken Brahmo Samaj follower, he did pioneering work on anthropometric variations and large scale sample surveys. He also laid the ground works for one of the most renowned Institutes for original research in India and was also a good friend of Meghnad Saha and Satyendra Nath Bose. What Institute was set up by this guy?

20. Some people are mathematicians, some are actors, and a few are both! Well, there has evolved a ranking system to measure the greatness of these guys, in terms of a natural number-the lesser the number, the greater the guy is. What is this number called?

21. 6174 is X number, 9999 is X constant. X is the name of an Indian number theorist. Identify.

22. “Physics, as we know it, will end in six months.” Well, we all know how false has this statement, said in the beginning of this century been. But no offense to this great theoretical physicist who would get so swayed away by his then fundamental breakthrough as to utter it. Who is the guy who said this and was proved completely wrong?

23. There is a game in which you have to choose between 3 identical doors, behind one of which is a grand prize, and others contain nothing. Once you have chosen a door, the host open one of the remaining doors, behind which he knows is nothing. Then, he asks you if you would stick to your door, or would you rather swap. What would be your best strategy? Put funda. And can you tell the name of this famous problem?

24. The fiction book written by this 19th century writer, who is well famous even today, became so popular that the Queen of England asked him to present the first copy of his next book exclusively to her. Although her order was followed, but, to the bewilderment of the queen, the next book was titled-‘A Synopsis of Algebraic & Transcendental Equations’. Can you name the guy?


यथा शिखा मयूराणाम नागानां मणयो यथा |

तथा वेदांगशास्त्राणाम गणितं मूर्धिन स्थितं ||

(As are the crests on the heads of peacocks, as are the gems on hoods of cobras; so is mathematics at the top of all sciences.)
Name the source (Hint: An ancient Indian scripture).

PhD Resolutions

From the blog of a student researcher at IISc.

See here.

UCLA discovers greatest Prime

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, a quest to find the 10 million digit prime using parallel computing power through internet is won by a UCLA group, on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP!

See here.

Published in: on September 30, 2008 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The first LHC smashdown

India’s contribution to the LHC hype. Reportedly,

A girl in India has committed suicide after watching TV reports that a physics experiment could bring about the end of the world, her family says.

See here. I can only wish that the poor girl had read my last post, and then she would have known that even if her convincement (or the convincement spoon fed by Indian media) were true, its best to die the LHC way!

Run LHC Run!

Large Hadron Collider starts its full fledged test run today, at 9:30 a.m. (Western European Time). What a milestone man! Its really cool to see such grand collaborations in action. And what great astonishingly astounding theories it attempts to test- extra dimensions, theoretical predictions of time travel, among others.

But whats really interesting is the hype and the social impact it is making. Almost everyone who cares to even glance over the news is aware that in some isolated facility called CERN, there is this incomprehensibly named machine set to start testing some fantasized-by-many-but-pursued-by-(almost)-nobody stuff. And never before has humanity seen doomsday concerns with such geeky angles. Micro blackholes, strangelet disaster, vacuum metastability, etc., there have been lawsuits filed against, and bets offically announced to claim the end of the world. I find it completey ravishing. (If you are reading this stuff for the first time, quickly read this before you piss in your pants). Man, we have grown up! haven’t we? From geeks’ cupboards to scifi to pop culture, the big science has finally crept on to the breakfast tables.

It is a blissful moment; and for me, even if the world somehow does end, it is the moment worth dying for! And if the world has to end like this, it will surely end without a whiff! It will just be absorbed in the wormhole (or whatever does it). No war, no pains, we will all just cease to exist. It will be the ideal moment to unexist even for the most hardcore realist, as not only the individual, but everything which is out there will be gone. Nobody will be there to loose (or gain) from your death. No mournings, no unsatisfied deathbed wishes! We, all we know, this earth, and much beyond (I’m not sure of the technical extent) will be extinct! And considering the grave dangers we are already facing, its possibly the most peaceful scenario for us to leave at a time when humanity is past its puberty and still not sincere enough.  So even if the doomsday predictions make any sense, I don’t give a damn, and wish LHC a great run.

Published in: on September 10, 2008 at 5:23 am  Comments (1)  
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Sureshot way to kiss a lady!

Before you think its another tip on how to hit on women, let me claim that it most assuredly is, although a foolproof one. All you’d need after reading this short post is, well, a lady. So, here we go…

Get a lady for whom you are a non- total stranger, and whose IQ is greater than 80 (and below 160). Catch her in a non gloomy/non- too busy mood. Start some conversation with her, orient it slowly to academics, or some geeky thing. And then, with the most casual look, tell her this-

“Well, would you do me a favor? I will make a small statement. All you have to do is if the statement is true, you give me your autograph, and if its false, you don’t give me your autograph.”

The lady now begins to think. All she’d need to do is give a damn autograph. Sounds easy. Interrupt her if she takes too much time.

“C’mon. I have not yet said anything, and you are already thinking.”

She will give a green signal.

“So let me remind. A true statement means an autograph and a false means no autograph. Deal?”

She nods.

“All right. So listen carefully. The statement I make is- ‘You will give me neither an autograph nor a kiss’. Thats it. Think and act now. And don’t you be a deal breaker.”

Now quickly step back a little and get out of her line of vision. Let her think.

One of the two things will happen within a minute, either she will smile back with a pleasant sensation on her face. Proceed to her then with literally your tongue in cheek- you are done. Or, she might look badly puzzled. Help her out, Einstein-

“Ma’am, suppose you think the statement is true. Then you’d have to give me your autograph. But then ‘you’ll give neither your autograph…’ thing can’t be true, right? Hence, the statement should be false. So, you will give me either your autograph or a kiss. But because the statement I made is false, I can’t take your autograph. That leaves only one option…”

Join her when she laughs. Happy ending 🙂

Well, I concede that she might just refuse to be sporty and refuse to go for the kiss. Invite her then for a Double-or-Nothing. On moral grounds she is bound to accept. Contact me for the next courageous hit 😉

This was a real life act successfully played by Raymond Smullyan. Whats more interesting is that the lady he kissed eventually became his wife!

Your logic can never fail you.

Global Warming

There is a lot of Global Warming around. Let me warm some more.

A nice take on the politics of Global Warming,

And here are the equations governing the behavior of Global Warming (as a discipline in Political Science), among other things.
Mathematical Equations of Global Warming

[courtesy- Craig Damrauer]

Published in: on October 21, 2007 at 6:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Tree(s) of Knowledge

Tomas might have succumbed in his quest for the Tree of Knowledge, but I finally found it, and am still alive 🙂

Theories can be crudely organized into a family tree where each might, at least in principle, be derivable from more fundamental ones above it.

The Tree of Knowledge

[courtesy- Max Tegmark]

And here is an awesome ‘learning map’ in Mathematics (rather big, click to view)

A Learning Map in Mathematics

Video Discoveries

There are lot of exciting Videos I came across in recent times.
Randy Pausch‘s Last Lecture

Sounds like Fermat’s Last Theorem, and became dramatically popular in an extremely short span. While I do not agree with the Professor’s philosophy about life, success etc; it still is a masterpiece delivery at such a timely moment. Whats intriguing about the lecture (and the persona of the orator) are the simple mindedness, honesty, and the self involved. We need drama like these- and even if we agree or not- we need the appraisal of such drama. Bored of the set examples and repetitive preachings- look for it.

Martin Gardner & Friends
I am a big fan of Martin Gardner, and I think that being his fan is my biggest achievement so far. (People like Persi Diaconis attributed their life’s success to him). Take a look & feel the thunder. Click here (.wmv file).

Also see (mind you this is by a Stanford Mathematician)
Life after Poincare: Grigori Perelman
Everybody knows who is Perelman, but nobody knows whats he doing now. Check ’em out (part 1 of n)


A (surreal) day in the life of an undergraduate on the 4-year M.Math degree at the University of Warwick.


I like such stuff. Buck up.

A series of video lectures on cutting edge science. User friendly. Worth a look.

For user friendly lectures in cutting edge Mathematics, see here.

For user friendly lectures in cutting edge Physics, see here.