Monday, 18 June 2018

THE SIGN OF THE FOUR (SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE) AND LAW OF LARGE NUMBERS


Winwood Reade is good upon the subject,” said Holmes. “He remarks that, while the individual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but percentages remain constant. So says the statistician. But do I see a handkerchief? Surely there is a white flutter over yonder.”



We can say the topic of this text is the application of Law of Large Numbers to human behaviour. And this is precisely the aim that many Social Sciences are dreaming of, in order to achieve prestige.
You cannot foretell what you will get when you flip a coin once, but thanks to this law, you can indeed delimit the number of heads or tails if you throw it 5000 times.

Friday, 1 June 2018

INCENDIES (DENIS VILLENEUVE) AND PURE MATHEMATICS

We haven´t posted a film on this blog for long time. So, here it is Incendies, a Canadian film that everyone who has watched it, is looking forward to discussing about with someone.
I recommended it to my sister and she hasn´t forgiven me yet, because she didn´t like it at all. This scene shows why mathematicians are so weird and besides, we´re told about Siracusa conjecture, although very few mathematicians know it by this name.


Thursday, 31 May 2018

GENERATION A (DOUGLAS COUPLAND) AND SCIENTISTS´ WORK


The first thing I want to say is that I don´t share the main idea of the following text. And I´m not even willing to admit that it may be an exageration. In spite of that, and for being refutated, I post it here.


So, because of his near-crippling jealousy, our young scientist found it hard to concentrate on his specific laboratory task, which was this: he aimed laser pulses through a micromisted protein broth. This allowed him to isolate and separate specific proteins within. It was a job that needed much skill and decades of education but was about as fun as stocking cardboard boxes at a Body Shop. The scientist wondered if his entire youth had been wasted in attaining what was essentially an ultra-high-tech McJob

Monday, 21 May 2018

THE LITTLE PRINCE ( ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY) AND THE MOVEMENT OF PLANETS


I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset now.”
But we must wait,” I said.
Wait? For what?” “For the sunset. We must wait until it is time.”
At first you seemed to be very much surprised. And then you laughed to yourself. You said to me: “I am always thinking that I am at home!”
Just so. Everybody knows that when it is noon in the United States the sun is setting over France. If you could fly to France in one minute, you could go straight into the sunset, right from noon. Unfortunately, France is too far away for that. But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you need do is move your chair a few steps. You can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever you like...
One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty-four times!”




I first heard of The Little Prince in the Spanish TV series Blue Summer. There, a child asked his father what he was able to see in the famous drawing: a hat or a snake. Of course, the father saw a hat and that made the child huff.
Both this book and that series transmit the idea that adult people are a bit stupid, just for being adults. I myself admit and recognize the superiority of childhood, but I think you can show it in a more elegant way.
With regards to the scientific comment, apart from whether the median density of the planet could generate a gravity field for the little prince, I can see another problem. The relative distances and perspectives in such a small planet make us wonder whether it is possible that this planet (named asteroid B612) could create sunsets. But these words come from an unpleasant adult, with no fantasy and no imagination.

Monday, 23 April 2018

MILO MURPHY´S LAW, THE THREE STATES OF MATTER AND THE DIFFICULTIES INHERENT TO SCIENCES TEACHING



The teacher does her best trying to explain a classic example, the chemical reaction between vinegar (dilute acetic acid) and soda (sodium bicarbonate) to generate carbon dioxide gas. It´s an endotermic reaction indeed, but with Milo is always a disaster.
NaHCO3(s) + CH3COOH(l) → CO2(g) + H2O(l) + Na+(aq) + CH3COO-(aq)
with s = solid, l = liquid, g = gas, aq = aqueous or in water solution
She overcomes several mishaps but ends up having the leading role in a pretty cool video with the David Bowie style

Monday, 26 March 2018

ARROW IN THE BLUE (ARTHUR KOESTLER) AND SPEED IN INERTIAL FRAMES OF REFERENCE


The content of the chapter I was reading is as follows: As the cannon-ball carrying the explorers towards the moon travel through the space, one of the animals aboard, a little fox-terrier, dies. After some hesitasion the explorers decide to throw the corpse out through the air-tighy hatch. This is don; and then the passengers, looking through the thick glass window, realise to their horror that the body of the dog is flying on a course parallel to their own through the space. They thought it would drop away, but the carcass share the momentum of the cannon-ball, just as an object thrown from the window of a moving railway carriage, shares the momentum of the train; and outside teh aerth´s atmosphere there is no friction to act as a brake. Gradually the carcass increases its distance from the window, impelled by the persistence of the gentle thrust which had sent it through the hatch; but though slowy receding, it maintains its parallel speed and keeps abreast of the window. The dead fox-terrier has become a planet or a meteor which will continue to travel in its dark elliptic orbit round the earth through eternity




In this text, Koestler himself makes my job on this post, since he comments a play by Verne from a scientific point of view. Koestler´s autobiography is highly recommendable as a very good way to approach XXth century thanks to his presence in every important fact of the century.
I read these memoirs when I was younger and I used to tell my brother about his adventures in our shared bedroom, even a mystical experience happened in Seville´s prison. My brother used to call him a show-off, as he thought it was impossible that kind of things to be true. But don´t worry, I´m not going to spoil the end of the book and neither the end of Koestler´s life

Monday, 26 February 2018

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP (JOHN IRVING) AND PETER TREATMENTS BEFORE PENICILLIN

Most peter treatment Jenny saw was done to soldiers. The U. S. Army would not begin to benefit from the discovery of penicillin until 1943, and there were many soldiers who didn't get penicillin until 1945. At Boston Mercy, in the early days of 1942, peters were usually treated with sulfa and arsenic. Sulfathiazole was for the clap--with lots of water recommended. For syphilis, in the days before penicillin, they used neoarsphenamine; Jenny Fields thought that this was the epitome of all that sex could lead to--to introduce arsenic into the human chemistry, to try to clean the chemistry up.


Such a great discovery, the penicillin, indeed. According to Fleming, it was discovered the 28th of September, although it is not that clear that its discovery was by chance, as we are usually told. The World According to Garp is an extraordinary novel, but it won´t appeal to parents who tend to worry too much. In the prologue, John Irving tries to answer the two most hated questions by writers: What is the novel about? Is this novel autobiographical?