by Dave Kellam

God as an alien mathematician

There’s an interesting interview with Hugo de Garis in h+ magazine. From the beginning of the piece:

Hugo, you’ve recently published an article on KurzweilAI.net titled “From Cosmism to Deism”, which essentially posits a transhumanist argument that some sort of “God” exists, i.e. some sort of intelligent creator of our universe – and furthermore that this “creator” is probably some sort of mathematician.

We’re just tiny bits of a big equation being used to determine the optimal baking time for a quiche in the unfathomably large oven at a cosmic dinner party.

February 22, 2011 ·

Dark Ages not so dark

Apparently the Dark Ages weren’t as bleak as we’ve been led to believe.

We have this idea that it was a time of superstition and ignorance when people didn’t look at the world around them and certainly didn’t look at it with a scientific eye. In fact, the Church considered mathematics the highest form of worship. Before you were allowed to study theology, you had to study the seven liberal arts — grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music.

So the concept that the Church was against learning is wrong. For five or six hundred years after the Fall of Rome, it was the Church that preserved and expanded learning. And in Gerbert’s time they were actively seeking it out among Muslims and Jews. The Crusades were a hundred years later, and the Spanish Inquisition took place two hundred years later. All of the “dark” stuff happened after the Dark Ages.

February 9, 2011 ·

Cracking scratch lottery tickets

Mohan Srivastava, a statistician from Toronto, cracked the numerical system behind a series of scratch lottery tickets.

“Once I worked out how much money I could make if this was my full-time job, I got a lot less excited,” Srivastava says. “I’d have to travel from store to store and spend 45 seconds cracking each card. I estimated that I could expect to make about $600 a day. That’s not bad. But to be honest, I make more as a consultant, and I find consulting to be a lot more interesting than scratch lottery tickets.”

Eventually the gaming commission listened to him and removed the tickets from stores.

February 1, 2011 ·

Heart equation

Mathematicians may be cold and lifeless, but definitely not heartless — there’s proof.

Heart Equation: x^2+(y-(x^2)^(1/3))^2 = 1

January 30, 2011 ·


Rithmomachy board

Rithmomachy is a complex, Early European, mathematical board game. The literal translation is “Battle of Numbers”. It’s similar to chess, but the capture of pieces depends on the numbers on each piece. Rhythmomachy Basics provides a few more details than the Wikipedia entry.

December 27, 2009 ·

Alice as mathematical satire

The absurdity in Alice in Wonderland is often attributed to drugs or a dark trip into the subconscious. For her PhD work, Melanie Bayley examined some of the most popular scenes from a mathematical perspective, which is summed up in Alice’s adventures in algebra. Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Caroll) was a rather conservative mathematician, who disagreed with many of the new mathematical theories emerging during the 19th century.

The madness of Wonderland, I believe, reflects Dodgson’s views on the dangers of this new symbolic algebra. Alice has moved from a rational world to a land where even numbers behave erratically.

I don’t imagine that Tim Burton’s new Alice in Wonderland will delve too deeply into mathematical theory.

December 17, 2009 ·