Monday, June 25, 2012

Would You Rather Stand or Sit? (Or, What Do Sport Commentators and Till/Checkout Clerks Have in Common?)

The answer is that it depends what side of the Atlantic you are on. In the British Isles, sport commentators, sportscasters, presenters and pundits almost exclusively sit (when on screen), and till/checkout clerks in food shops almost always sit while on the job. In the U.S., both stand on the job fairly exclusively.

Another UFOD: The most popular form of sport commentary is a duo, almost always consisting of a professional journalist/broadcaster and a former professional in the particular sport in question. Two exceptions to this occur in the U.K., where all current snooker and cricket commentators are former professionals of their respective sport.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Elegant Multiplicative Palindromes

Technically there are an infinite number of these, but they aren't that easy to find. An interesting one is multiplying a series of 1's with itself, for example: 1*1=1, and 11*11 = 121. This scales up to nine 1's: 

= 12345678987654321

I call this 'elegant' as not only is it a palindrome, but it is 'in-order', first counting up, then counting down. Trying ten 1's also results in a palindrome, however two zeros get introduced between two 9's which make it a little less appealing to the eye, and arguably inelegant (12345678900987654321). Trying eleven 1's doesn't result in a palindrome because humans use the base ten numeral system (a positional numeral system with a radix of ten), most likely because we have ten fingers and ten toes. (Also the reason that in the English language 'digit' and its translation in many languages refers to both a mathematically expressed numeral and the anatomical name for fingers and toes). Eleven 1's multiplied by eleven 1's results in the inelegant, non-palindrome 123456790120987654321.

On a related note, many cultures did not use the base ten system such as the Maya who used base twenty, using the sum of all fingers and toes. Others have used octal systems, counting the spaces between fingers and toes. Computers prefer the binary system because they have only two fingers, one on each hand.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Less than 4% of land is antipodal to land, shown in red above.
Now you know.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The World's First Legonaut 26/1/2012

From GMA News  A Lego man holding a Canadian flag has  been sent into space by two high school students from Toronto, Canada. Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, both 17, attached the legonaut and four cameras to a helium balloon that went up 80,000 feet into the air, the Toronto Star reported.
When the Lego man and the cameras returned to Earth 97 minutes later, they brought footage from some 24 km above sea level, three times the typical cruising altitude of a commercial aircraft, as reported by  the Toronto Star. “It shows a tremendous degree of resourcefulness ... For two 17-year-olds to accomplish this on their own is pretty impressive,” said University of Toronto astrophysics professor Dr. Michael Reid.
The mission was accomplished with a $400 budget and four months of weekend work. Since September the two spent Saturdays at Ho’s kitchen table building the balloon. 
“People would walk into the house and see us building this fantastical thing with a parachute from scratch, and they would be like, ‘What are you doing?' We’d be like, ‘We’re sending cameras to space.’ They’d be like, ‘Oh, okayyyyy…,’” Ho said.
The pair assembled a styrofoam box to carry the cameras, and produced a rip-stop nylon parachute that they tested by throwing off the roof of Ho’s father's 40-story condominium unit. Other parts included an $85 weather balloon ordered online, and $160 worth of helium from a party supply store.
After assembling the balloon, the boys loaded the Lego man and the cameras, along with a cell phone with a downloaded GPS app.
When the balloon passed seven km above sea level - out of cellphone-tower range - the GPS signal cut out, prompting the boys to go home and make dumplings. WHAT? - BB  At 4:12 p.m., Ho’s iPad started to beep, indicating their "Lego-naut" had re-entered the atmosphere. The balloon touched down in a field near Rice Lake, 122 km from its launch point. The brave legonaut had climbed to about 80,000 feet in one hour and five minutes before the balloon exploded, beginning the 32-minute descent.
The recorded footage shows the legonaut spinning at an altitude three times higher than the peak of Mount Everest, before the balloon bursts and he starts to plummet. 
UK's The Guardian said Lego sent a note of congratulations to the boys."We are always amazed by the creative ways in which Lego fans use our products, and humbled by how many unsuspecting places we appear, like attached to a helium balloon in … space," The Guardian quoted the company's brand relations director, Michael McNally, as saying.