Books have always been digital, not analog

James Gleick (August 1, 1954 — ) American author and historian of science
on Twitter


You Cannot Learn Too Much Linear Algebra

Benedict Gross, Ph.D., George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Mathematics, Harvard University
in Abstract Algebra, Lecture 2 at 14:25 via Harvard Extension


Benedict Gross standing in front of chalkboard with equations from Abstract Algebra Class
Benedict Gross teaching abstract algebra

On Scientifically Not Putting the Cart in Front of the Horse

Quite often in science we get a bit ahead of ourselves and begin theorizing wildly, which can very often be an excellent thought experiment in and of itself. But without some data to give proof to our theorems, we can be easily sidedtracked.  Never have I read a statement so poetically phrased to admonish against it as I have recently:

Werner R. Loewenstein (1926 – 2014), German born American biophysicist
in The Touchstone of Life: Molecular Information, Cell Communication and the Foundatons of Life (Oxford University Press, 1999)

Rod, Can You Tell Our Contestant What She’s Won?

Possibly one of the oddest closing sentences of a technical book–and a very good one at that–I’ve ever read:

This pressure can be calculated by minimizing the Helmholtz function of the system. Details can be found in Fermi’s textbook on thermodynamics (Fermi 1956). But why does osmosis explain the behavior of a salted cucumber? This question is left to the reader as a parting gift.

André Thess in The Entropy Prinicple: Thermodynamics for the Unsatisified (Springer, 2011)


Featured image by KTRYNA on Unsplash

Masara Ibuka on the Purposes of Incorporation of Sony

Masara Ibuka (), co-founder of Sony Corporation
on the first “Purposes of Incorporation” of Sony


John McCarthy on Arithmetic

John McCarthy (), an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist who was one of the founders of the discipline of artificial intelligence
in Computer Scientist Coined ‘Artificial Intelligence’ in The Wall Street Journal


A Cosmologically Centered Definition of Hydrogen

An anonymous wit defining hydrogen in light of the Big Bang Theory
As relayed by David Christian in his book Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History


Book cover of "The Maps of Time"

Meaning according to Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty (in a rather scornful tone): When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more or less.
Alice: The question is, whether you can make a word mean so many different things?
Humpty Dumpty: The question is, which is to be master – that’s all.
Alice: (Too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again)
Humpty Dumpty: They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs, they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!
Alice: Would you tell me, please what that means?
Humpty Dumpty (looking very much pleased): Now you talk like a reasonable child. I meant by impenetrability that we have had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.
Alice (in a thoughtful tone): That’s a great deal to make one word mean.
Humpty Dumpty: When I make a word do a lot of work like that, I always pay it extra.
Alice (too much puzzled to make any other remark): Oh!

The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology

Francis Crick, OM, FRS (1916 – 2004), a British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist
first articulated in 1958 and restated in August 1970
“Central dogma of molecular biology.” Nature 227 (5258): 561-3.
Bibcode 1970Natur.227..561C doi:10.1038/227561a0 PMID 4913914

On Telephones and Architecture

John J. Carty (), first head of Bell Laboratories, 1908


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Book Cover The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes, #3
Arthur Conan Doyle
mystery, detective
The Strand Magazine
Kindle e-book

Comprising the series of short stories that made the fortunes of the Strand, the magazine in which they were first published, this volume won even more popularity for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Holmes is at the height of his powers in many of his most famous cases, including The Red-Headed League, The Speckled Band, and The Blue Carbuncle.

The original “procedural”, but in fiction form and focusing on logic instead of high tech science.

Read between January 02 – May 09, 2011

Quotes and Highlights:

You may remember the old Persian saying, ‘There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.’ There is as much sense in Hafiz as in Horace, and as much knowledge of the world.

Singularity is almost invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it is to bring it home.

Well, moonshine is a brighter thing than fog, …

…as I said then, that a man should keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.

“My God! It’s Watson,” said he. He was in a pitiable state of reaction, with every nerve in a twitter.

41% Note: An interesting early use of @Twitter…

I should be very much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket. An Eley’s No. 2 is an excellent argument with gentlemen who can twist steel pokers into knots. That and a tooth-brush are, I think, all that we need.

magnifying lens.

87% First reference to Holmes with a magnifying lens in print that I’ve seen.Like

Dictionary: A Malevolent Literary Device

Ambrose Bierce (), American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist
in The Devil’s Dictionary


The Response of the Schoolmaster

This must certainly be the quote of the week from English author Alan Bennett’s play Forty Years On:

Foster: I’m still a bit hazy about the Trinity, sir.
Schoolmaster: Three in one, one in three, perfectly straightforward.  Any doubts about that see your maths master.


HARASS SARAH is a PALINdrome, as well as a popular left-wing sport.

This is definitely the quote of the week:

Sol Golomb, mathematician and information theorist
via personal communication while discussing a palindromic word puzzle