Do you exist?

My brother, Bob, asked me, “Is there anything that you are sure exists but that is not material?”

My short answer would be, “no”, but instead I replied, “I feel like everything can be put on an existance scale. On one end of the scale, say the left end, are things which I feel pretty sure exist and things on the other end, say the right end, of the scale I’m pretty sure don’t exist. This is not an absolute scale. Each thing is placed on the scale relative to other things on the scale. For example my shoes would go to the left of elves and other non-material things would go to the right of elves. So I wouldn’t say I’m sure things like ghosts, souls, angels, demons, etc. exist. I’m just less sure they exist.”

I forgot to mention to him that I think ideas exist and are not necessarily material, but can ideas exist apart from a mind? Is an idea written on paper still an idea if no one is around to read it? By the way, in my opinion the mind is a physical object made of neurons, synapses, etc.

Not so spoiled milk

I wanted to eat cereal at work so I poured some milk into an empty water bottle and brought it with me. It stayed in the refrigerator until quitting time. I put the bottle into my backpack and drove home. I tossed my backpack onto my bedroom floor and went to bed (I get off work at midnight). In the morning I remembered that I left the milk in my backpack so I thought the milk would be sour. I opened the bottle and took a whiff. It smelled ok. I cautiously took a sip. It tasted fine. I put the bottle in the fridge and will have some cereal later.

Statistics don’t lie, people do.

Someone said to me that you can make statistics say anything. This is true if you lie and change the numbers. For example if you say, “Our company is doing great. Our revenue was 5 billion dollars” and you your expenses were 6 billion dollars then the truth is that you lost 1 billion dollars. The lie wasn’t in the statistics it was in the statement “Our company is doing great.” If your revenue was 4 billion dollars last year then you had an increase in revenue of 1 billion dolars, but since your expenses were 6 billion dollars you still lost a lot of money.

So the next time someone quotes a statistic ask them for the rest of the story.

Hands on Astrophysics has a very good article about the the proper use of statistics. Unfortunately it’s not easy to get to. When you click on the link to the article it takes you to a PDF file for a variable star curriculum. At the end of the document there is a section called Math Talk. This is where the discussion of statistics begins.

Download books for free

Download books for free at The Gutenberg Project . Most of these books are in the public domain. Some are available in several different formats such as PDF, plain text, machine read mp3 files and human read mp3 files. There are books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, James Joyce, J. M. Barrie, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe and many more.

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Beauty of Pi

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. This ratio has been calculated to be approximately 3.141592653. An engineer designing a large circular building would not need a measurement any more accurate than that, but mathematicians have calculated Pi to billions of digits.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi

∏ (The symbol for Pi, may not display correctly in some browsers)

Website with many digits of pi in a beautiful layout. http://3.14.maxg.org/

Juggling at its Best

Jason Garfield : Check out his videos. He juggles 10 balls, 7 clubs and 10 rings. The Raspyni Brothers , one of the finest juggling duos in the world, have entertaining videos on their site too. The Passing Zone is another fantastic juggling duo. They were the first jugglers to pass 11 clubs. Now 17 and 14 year old Vova and Olga Galchenko juggle 12 clubs with ease. Vova beat Jason Garfield in the 2004 World Juggling Federation Advanced Clubs competition. Jason won the advanced balls competition.

The Infinite Hotel

Imagine a scenario in which you arrive at a hotel, hot, sweaty and impatient. Your mood is not improved when the clerk tells you that they have no record of your reservation and that the hotel is full. “There is nothing I can do, I’m afraid,” he intones officiously.

If you’re in an argumentative frame of mind and know some set theory, you might in an equally officious tone inform the clerk that the problem is not that the hotel is full, but rather that it is both full and finite.

You can explain that if the hotel were full but infinite (the above-mentioned Hilbert’s Hotel Infinity), there would be something he could do. He could tell the guest in room 1 to move into room 2; the original party in room 2 he could move into room 3, the previous occupant of room 3 he could move into room 4, and so on. In general, the hotel could move the guest in room N into room (N + 1). This action would deprive no party of a room yet would vacate room 1 into which you could now move.

John Allen Paulos retelling David Hilbert’s idea