Short Takes

Short Takes

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Most recent post on May 31, 2024
□ Most recent entry: → Quebec Bridge

Link → Gibraltar
→ circa
→ caprice
→ refugium
→ 5 relict
→ Alba
→ Mineola, Texas
→ electrolysis
→ bacteriophage
→ 10 serve-and-volley
→ climbing, spelunking, canyoneering
→ loophole
→ pilcrow
→ red dog rush
→ 15 Y. A. Tittle
→ medical_terminology
→ (More) exactly how the Moon affects the tides and why there are two tidal cycles per lunar day
→ oral exam
→ hypocoristic / hypocorism
→ 20 Combined system
→ enjambment
→ dubrae
→ Never dump your aquarium
→ The Mohole project
→ 25 pericarp
→ Eames poster
→ nosocomial
→ celerity
→ The Richness of Time
→ 30 mendokusai
→ automorphic function
→ doughty
→ excelsior
→ Naming of Montpelier
→ 35 Writing about music is like dancing about architecture
→ Mathematics-Ferguson Springs Cemetery
→ Eggs are single cells !
→ saros
→ Löwenmensch
→ 40 AutoPen
→ ARM processor
→ Sophie Wilson
→ nickel allergy
→ mustard seed ministries
→ 45 Why bananas aren’t as good as they used to be
→ How Airplanes Fly
→ Banksy Ukraine
→ Harry James — Beaumont days
→ Linda Ronstadt
→ 50 The Symmetry That Makes Solving Math Equations Easy
→ I’m a Scientist — The Film
→ Ria
→ Baez family
→ Clay painting by Joan Gratz
→ 55 Dynamic analysis of a truss
→ knife vocabulary
→ The Maginot Line
→ Tom Hanks — City Arts & Lectures Series
→ Car Bloat Is Making US Streets Dangerous
→ 60 Do you know the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet?
→ Polynomials are simply products of linear equations
→ Why is a quadratic equation
⠀⠀⠀called ‘quadratic’,
⠀⠀⠀though it has a degree of two
⠀⠀⠀and quad means four?
⠀⠀⠀For, example (x^2-2x-3)

→ What is the most general equation for the area of a triangle?
→ What weather app has the most beautiful graphics?
→ 65 Sail in the heart of Semaine du Golfe
→ Letters of Note
→ What is a century?
→ The Hewlett-Packard (HP) garage
→ Submorphemes (phonesthemes)
→ 70 The Heat Index and Wind Chill (and how are they calculated?)

→ At the museum
→ Robert Hutchings Goddard
→ Sortition — an idea whose time has come (again)
→ Epistasis
→ 75 Inherent vice

→ sanguine
→ just deserts
→ Stigler’s Law
→ dry rot
→ 80 Biochemical pathways

→ sarooj
→ Quebec Bridge

A British Overseas Territory; not uninhabited; and certainly not an island.


caprice (n.)

originally “a shivering,” a word of uncertain origin. Some guesses … or that the Italian word is connected with capo “head” + riccio “curl, frizzled,” literally “hedgehog” (from Latin ericius). The notion in this case would be of the hair standing on end, hence a person shivering in fear.


refugium (n.)

In biology, a refugium (plural: refugia) is a location that supports an isolated or relict [see next entry] population of a once more widespread species.


relict (n.)

“a widow,” mid-15c., relicte, etymologically “one who is left, one who remains,” … also as an adjective in Middle English and early modern English, originally “left undisturbed or untouched, allowed to remain” (mid-15c.) but used in various senses.


Alba (n.)

Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. Historically, the term refers to Britain as a whole and is ultimately based on the Indo-European root for “white”.


Mineola, Texas
Mineola is a city in the U.S. state of Texas in Wood County.

The town was incorporated as the railroads arrived in 1873. A railroad official, Ira H. Evans, combined the names of his daughter, Ola, and her friend, Minnie Patten, to create the city name Mineola.,_Texas


The word “lysis” means to separate or break; therefore, electrolysis is more or less “breakdown via electricity”.


Bacteriophages are among the most common and diverse entities in the biosphere. Bacteriophages are ubiquitous viruses, found wherever bacteria exist.

In 1896, Ernest Hanbury Hankin reported that something in the waters of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India had a marked antibacterial action against cholera and it could pass through a very fine porcelain filter.

Félix dHérelle announced on 3 September 1917, that he had discovered “an invisible, antagonistic microbe of the dysentery bacillus”. DHérelle called the virus a bacteriophage, a bacteria-eater (from the Greek phagein meaning “to devour”). DHerelle researched bacteriophages and introduced the concept of phage therapy.


The serve-and-volley style of play has diminished in recent years with advances in racquet and string technologies which allow players to generate a great amount of top spin on groundstrokes and passing shots. The slowing of court surfaces and deflation of balls, promoting longer rallies for the enjoyment of spectators, has also devalued the serve-and-volley style.


climbing/spelunking/canyoneering Terms
  • chimneying: the process of pinching yourself between the two walls. Chimneying is achieved by placing your back against one wall and your feet against the other wall. Your body will be facing sideways or up. Your hands are used for balance and for helping you move.
  • stemming: a technique used to travel up or down a slot canyon. You place your left foot and left hand on one wall of the canyon and your right foot and right hand on the other wall. Your body faces forward.
  • bridging: a technique used to travel up or down a slot canyon. You place your hands on one wall of the canyon and your feet on the other wall. Your stomach points down to the ground.


The first records of loophole come around 1585. It combines loop, meaning “something folded on itself, leaving an opening between parts,” with hole, meaning “an opening.” Originally loophole referred to holes in castles or forts that archers could shoot arrows through.arrowslit: (often also referred to as an arrow loop, loophole or loop hole, and sometimes a balistraria, is a narrow vertical aperture in a fortification through which an archer can launch arrows or a crossbowman can launch bolts.

balistraria: a narrow often cruciform opening in a wall (such as a tower or fortress) for discharging arrows (as from a crossbow)


red dog rush
The blitz began with the “red-dog” rush, likely first done by Red Ettinger, a linebacker for the University of Kansas, sometime between 1948–1950.


Y. A. Tittle
Tittle was born and raised in Marshall, Texas. He aspired to be a quarterback from a young age, spending hours in his backyard throwing a football through a tire swing, emulating his fellow Texan and boyhood idol, Sammy Baugh.
Tittle played high school football at Marshall High School and college football at LSU.


(More) exactly how the Moon affects the tides and why there are two tidal cycles per lunar day
“However, inertia — the tendency of a moving object to keep moving — affects the earths oceans too. As the moon circles the earth, the earth moves in a very slight circle too, and this movement is enough to cause a centrifugal force on the oceans.

This inertia, or centrifugal force, causes the oceans to bulge on the opposite side facing the moon. While the moons gravitational pull is strong enough to attract oceans into a bulge on the side of the earth facing the moon, it is not strong enough to overcome the inertia on the opposite side of the earth. As a result, the worlds oceans bulge twice once when they are on the side of Earth closest to the moon, and once when they are on the side farthest from the moon, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, MA.

Geography complicates the tides, but many places on Earth experience just two high and two low tides every 24 hours and 50 minutes. (The extra 50 minutes is caused by the distance the moon moves each day as it orbits Earth).”

And a more general example of a barycenter …

oral exam
After my teeth cleaning treatment, the dental hygienist asked if I had any questions.

I asked, “Is plaque mineral or organic ?”

She gave a thorough answer — mentioned that the first layer on the teeth is called biofilm and that this changes to tartar over time.

I was intrigued by the word biofilm and I went down the rabbit hole.

Excerpt from wiki

Dental plaque is a biofilm of microorganisms (mostly bacteria, but also fungi) that grows on surfaces within the mouth. It is a sticky colorless deposit at first, but when it forms tartar, it is often brown or pale yellow. It is commonly found between the teeth, on the front of teeth, behind teeth, on chewing surfaces, along the gumline (supragingival), or below the gumline cervical margins (subgingival). Dental plaque is also known as microbial plaque, oral biofilm, dental biofilm, dental plaque biofilm, or bacterial plaque biofilm. Bacterial plaque is one of the major causes of dental decay and gum disease.


hypocoristic / hypocorism

It may be a pet name, a “name used to show affection for a person or object. It may be a diminutive form of a person’s name, such as Izzy for Isabel or Bob for Robert, or it may be unrelated.”

“It evolved from the Greek verb hypokorizesthai (“to call by pet names”), which itself comes from korizesthai (“to caress”).”


Combined system

Most of the UK has a combined sewage system, so wastewater from toilets is carried to sewage treatment works through the same pipes as rainwater.

To prevent homes and public spaces from being flooded after heavy rains, the system is designed occasionally to overflow and discharge untreated sewage into rivers and the sea.

Sewage in sea: French appeal to EU over UK discharges of waste



Enjambment is a literary device in which a line of poetry carries its idea or thought over to the next line without a grammatical pause.



Dubraes keep laces tight and centered.

Click for the history of the dubrae


Never dump your aquarium

Dumping anything out of an aquarium — fish, animals, and plants — can have devastating consequences for Texas natural waterbodies. This is true for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Never dump them into a natural body of water or flush them down the toilet.

Click for the next invasive species could come from your aquarium


The Mohole project never got to second base

After a successful Phase 1 in 1961 off Guadalupe Island in the Pacific Ocean, the Mohole project devolved due to mismanagement, cost overruns, and scientific disagreement and was defunded in 1966. The deepest hole drilled was only down to 601 feet (183 m) below the sea floor in 11,700 feet (3,600 m) of water.

The deepest hole ever drilled was the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia (near the Artic Ocean and near Finland), a depth of 12,262 meters (7.6 miles *) was reached in 1989.

Mystery Doug Overview

Project Mohole

Kola Superdeep Borehole

Mohorovičić discontinuity



late 17th century: from French péricarpe, from Greek perikarpion ‘pod, shell’, from peri- ‘around’ + karpos ‘fruit’.

Drupe fruit diagram-en


Eames poster of the Men of Modern Mathematics
A history chart of mathematicians from 1000 to 1900

Click to see poster with marvelously zoomable closeups

Eames poster

Eames poster


An infection that is acquired in a hospital or other health care facility
(from Greek nosokomos ‘person who tends the sick’ + -ial)


Swiftness, rapidity of motion

The rattlesnake scored the highest measured acceleration, at 279 meters per second squared. But to their surprise, the nonvenomous rat snake came in a close second at 274 meters per second squared (275 meters per second squared = 28 Gs !).

Snakes probably evolved such quick strikes to compete with the reaction times of prey, Penning adds. Depending on the species and the situation, mammals can react and make an observable motion anywhere between 60 and 395 milliseconds. An average human eye blink, for instance, spans a leisurely 200 milliseconds.


The Richness of Time
Brian Greene, Dean Buonomano, and Lera Boroditsky talk
Premiered Jan 17, 2020

The Richness of Time


  • About a third of the world’s languages do not rely on words for right and left
  • In the Yagua language of Peru, there are five distinct grammatical forms of the past tense
  • “In English,” she says, moving her hand toward the cup, “if I knock this cup off the table, even accidentally, you would likely say, She broke the cup.” However, in Japanese or Spanish, she explains, intent matters.

Here’s a link to a lighthearted and insightful conversation between Shankar Vedantam and cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky

Lost In Translation: The Power Of Language To Shape How We View The World


automorphic function
“The sine function is a basic example of what we mathematicians more generally call an automorphic function: When we change (morph) a variable by some process (in this case, sliding over by 2π), the function turns back into itself (hence “auto” morphic).”


“strong, brave, spirited, valiant,” Middle English doughti, from Old English dohtig “competent, good, valiant,” from dyhtig “strong,” related to dugan “to be fit, be able, be strong,” and influenced by its past participle, dohte.

Rare after 17c.; in deliberately archaic or mock-heroic use since c. 1800. If it had survived in living language, its modern form would be dighty.


Wood wool, known primarily as excelsior in North America, is a product made of wood slivers cut from logs. It is mainly used in packaging, for cooling pads in home evaporative cooling systems known as swamp coolers, for erosion control mats, and as a raw material for the production of other products such as bonded wood wool boards. In the past, it was used as stuffing or padding in upholstery or toys. It is also sometimes used by taxidermists to construct the armatures of taxidermy mounts.”

Palha de madeira2


Naming of Montpelier
“using French names was popular at that time because of the help the United States received from the French government in winning the Revolutionary War”


Daniel P. Thompson in his “History of the Town of Montpelier … laments the way settlers renamed rivers and mountains instead of adopting aboriginal names. In 1860 he wrote, “I cannot forbear, in passing, to express a regret that the practical tastes and common-place notions of our first settlers should have so far governed them, in respect to this name, as to have led them generally to adopt the homely translation instead of the poetic original. The Indian names are not like most of ours, arbitrary and inexpressive, but ever have their significations. This of itself is a beauty. It ensures, also, the applicability of the name to the thing.” For this reason, Thompson joined a group fighting to keep the name of Montpelier’s dominant river “Winooski” — Abenaki for “land of the wild onion.”


Writing about music is like dancing about architecture

Mathematics-Ferguson Springs Cemetery
I found this location on Google Maps west of Canton, KY on Highway 68. I’m wondering how it was named.

Mathematics-Ferguson Springs Cemetery
Forest Service Rd 100-G, Benton, KY 42025

Looks like a simple misspelling

Eggs are single cells !


What most people perhaps don’t realize is that eggs are single cells. Even a chicken egg is one cell — a really, really large cell. It’s incredibly hard to make a cell that size — and not something that can be done alone. To become that large, the egg grows while remaining physically connected to other cells, which are called sister cells or nurse cells.

At the Flatiron Institute, developmental biologist Jasmin Imran Alsous and her collaborators are working together to uncover the mysteries of how gametes move and develop.

(*) The mission of the Flatiron Institute is to advance scientific research through computational methods, including data analysis, theory, modeling and simulation.

One saros period after an eclipse, the Sun, Earth, and Moon return to approximately the same relative geometry
Antikythera Mechanism Saros cycle for the prediction of eclipses ΣΚΓ′, in the red rectangle, and means 223 months. Written between 150 and 100 BC

The saros is a period of exactly 223 synodic months, approximately 6585.3211 days, or 18.029 years, that can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon. One saros period after an eclipse, the Sun, Earth, and Moon return to approximately the same relative geometry, a near straight line, and a nearly identical eclipse will occur, in what is referred to as an eclipse cycle. A sar is one-half of a saros.


Eggs are single cells !


What most people perhaps don’t realize is that eggs are single cells. Even a chicken egg is one cell — a really, really large cell. It’s incredibly hard to make a cell that size — and not something that can be done alone. To become that large, the egg grows while remaining physically connected to other cells, which are called sister cells or nurse cells.

At the Flatiron Institute, developmental biologist Jasmin Imran Alsous and her collaborators are working together to uncover the mysteries of how gametes move and develop.

(*) The mission of the Flatiron Institute is to advance scientific research through computational methods, including data analysis, theory, modeling and simulation.


Löwenmensch, meaning “lion-person” or “lion-human”, is used most frequently because it was discovered and is exhibited in Germany.

Determined by carbon dating of the layer in which it was found to be between 35,000 and 40,000 years old, it is one of the oldest-known examples of an artistic representation and the oldest confirmed statue ever discovered.



Sincerely Yours, This Machine Does Not Exist

The first rule of autopen is “don’t talk about autopen.”


Sophie Wilson
English computer scientist, who helped design the BBC Micro and ARM architecture


nickel allergy
There is a label on the frame of my new glasses no nickel allergy, so I looked it up.

The exact cause of nickel allergy is unknown. As with other allergies, nickel allergy develops when your immune system views nickel as a harmful, rather than a harmless substance. Normally, your immune system only reacts to protect your body against bacteria, viruses, or toxic substances.

Once your body has developed a reaction to a particular agent (allergen) — in this case, nickel — your immune system will always be sensitive to it.


mustard seed ministries


We Do Repairs

MSM never intended to be in competition with the retail computer industry, so we do not advertise a repair service… but we do repairs!

We understand that many families struggle to make ends meet. Families also know that having technology for their children is essential for academic success. With this in mind, MSM repairs units for needy families. If an MSM computer needs repair, it is of course – free. If we repair a computer that has been purchased elsewhere, we charge only the cost of the parts or licenses needed to repair the unit. No labor time is charged.

MSM takes pride in our business ethic. We never fix a computer that isn’t worth repairing – and we never deem a computer to be salvaged when it can be repaired and continue to service a family successfully.

If you have a computer issue – come see us! We’ll check it out for free!


FREE … For Sale … Lifetime Warranty!
First, all students from 5th grade through college are eligible for a free computer from MSM! Here’s How…

5th -8th graders … write a short essay stating why they think a computer will help them with their school work. Plus, they complete 10 hours of community service. The 10 hours can be completed ANYWHERE. We hope that our students will find new and inventive ways to complete their service: maybe help an elderly neighbor, volunteer at a shelter, organize a service project with their friends at church, etc.

After these two steps are completed, the student brings to MSM the paperwork and they leave with their new computer! It’s FREE!

Second, MSM does some fundraising by selling high-end computers and laptops. We sell every name brand and can build a unit to your specs. Many of our units have Intel i7 processors with plenty of RAM. And every unit comes with Windows 10 Pro, Office Pro, and lots of other goodies. Computers start at $100! Our most expensive unit is $200! The awesome thing about our refurbished computers is that they have a lifetime warranty! Hardware and software are repaired or reloaded for free if they fail in any way. (Abuse or natural disasters are not covered.)

The lifetime warranty is also a feature of our student units. Kids can be hard on computers – we know that they are just learning and may do some unexpected things to their computers. Since we want our kids to ALWAYS have a usable computer for school work – we warrant them for life. We also have free upgrades! When middle schoolers move up to high school – they trade in their unit for a new and faster unit … when they go to college – they get another upgrade and also have the option for a laptop. It’s all FREE!


Why bananas aren't as good as they used to be
Why bananas aren’t as good as they used to be

The ‘pandemic’ destroying the world’s favorite fruit

A Quest for the Gros Michel, the Great Banana of Yesteryear


How Airplanes Fly

Almost everyone today has flown in an airplane. Many ask the simple question “what makes an airplane fly”? The answer one frequently gets is misleading and often just plain wrong. We hope that the answers provided here will clarify many misconceptions about lift and that you will adopt our explanation when explaining lift to others. We are going to show you that lift is easier to understand if one starts with Newton rather than Bernoulli. We will also show you that the popular explanation that most of us were taught is misleading at best and that lift is due to the wing diverting air down.


Banksy Ukraine
Well worth your time …

Banksy website
The Son of a Migrant from Syria

Harry James — Beaumont days

Excerpt from wiki

James started taking trumpet lessons from his father at age eight, and by age twelve he was leading the second band in the Christy Brothers Circus, for which his family was then working. James’s father placed him on a strict daily practice schedule. At each session he was given several pages to learn from the Arbans book and was not allowed to pursue any other pastime until he had learned them. While still a student at Dick Dowling Junior High School, he participated as a regular member of Beaumont High Schools Royal Purple Band, and in May 1931 he took first place as trumpet soloist at the Texas Band Teachers Associations Annual Eastern Division contest held in Temple, Texas.

In 1924, his family settled in Beaumont, Texas. It was here in the early 1930s that James began playing in local dance bands when he was 15 years of age. James played regularly with Herman Waldman’s band, and at one performance was noticed by nationally popular Ben Pollack. In 1935 he joined Pollack’s band, but left at the start of 1937 to join Benny Goodman’s orchestra, where he stayed through 1938. He was nicknamed “The Hawk” early in his career for his ability to sight-read. A common joke was that if a fly landed on his written music, Harry James would play it. His low range had a warmth associated with the cornet and even the flugelhorn, but this sound was underrecorded in favor of James’ brilliant high register.


Linda Ronstadt


Linda Ronstadt was born in 1946 in Tucson, Arizona, to Gilbert Ronstadt, a prosperous machinery merchant who ran the F. Ronstadt Co. hardware store. Her mother, Ruth Mary Copeman, from the Flint, Michigan area, was the daughter of Lloyd Groff Copeman, a prolific inventor and holder of nearly 700 patents, among them, an early form of the microwave oven and a flexible ice cube tray, the latter earning millions in royalties. Linda’s father came from a pioneering Arizona ranching family and was of German, English, and Mexican descent, and also a guitarist who sang Mexican songs to his children. Linda was raised on the family’s ten-acre ranch in Tucson along with three siblings. She had a pony and later a horse. As a teen, she formed a folk trio with brother Peter and sister Suzy; calling themselves the New Union Ramblers.


The Symmetry That Makes Solving Math Equations Easy


Thank you! Well written and insightful.

Even after years of math and a career in engineering, it’s good to have some new scaffolding for problem-solving.

And here’s a few more articles by Patrick Honner

I highly recommend Quanta magazine


I'm a Scientist — The Film


I am Stephen Curry [not the basketball player], a Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College London. Few people know what ‘structural biology’ is but in my case it means I figure out the three-dimensional structures from biological molecules in atomic detail, using X-rays and crystals. My main interests are in the proteins used by RNA viruses such as foot-and-mouth disease virus; this work helps to reveal how these tiny pathogens tick.

Th[e] blog aims to tell the story of what it’s like to work in science in the UK in the 21st Century, to explore the larger social and political responsibilities of being a scientist and to allow me to expound, more or less randomly, on matters that may be only loosely related to science.

My writing has appeared in The Guardian, Times Higher Education, The Biochemist, Research Fortnight, New Scientist, at Lablit and in the Open Laboratory anthologies of the best science blogging in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 (2011 was skipped because of a change of publisher — go figure).

I also enjoy producing still and moving pictures. I am excessively proud of my “I’m a scientist” film. I also enjoy history and the arts, but know very little about either.


A candid and touching poem.


A ria is a coastal inlet formed by the partial submergence of an unglaciated river valley. It is a drowned river valley that remains open to the sea.


Baez family
Joan Baez’s father, Albert Baez (1912–2007), was born in Puebla, Mexico, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where his father preached to — and advocated for — a Spanish-speaking congregation. Albert first considered becoming a minister but instead turned to the study of mathematics and physics and received his PhD degree at Stanford University in 1950. Albert was later credited as a co-inventor of the x-ray microscope. Joan’s cousin, John C. Baez, is a mathematical physicist.

K-B Mirrors Harness X-rays for Science


Clay painting
Joan Carol Gratz (born 1941) is an American artist, animator, and filmmaker who specializes in clay painting. Gratz is best known for her 1992 Oscar-winning animated short film Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase.


Dynamic analysis of a truss

Wow !

Using the Julia language …

  • 8 lines of code — enable libraries
    using NetworkDynamics
    using OrdinaryDiffEq
    using Graphs
    using GraphMakie
    using LinearAlgebra: norm, ⋅
    using Printf
    using CairoMakie
  • 77 lines of code — build model
  • 20 lines of code — set state and solve model
  • 39 lines of code — plot results as an MP4 video

144 lines of code total! (including comments and line spacing)


Honing your knife vocabulary

The Maginot Line

The Maginot Line was impervious to most forms of attack.

Consequently, the Germans invaded through the Low Countries in 1940, passing it to the north.

The line, which was supposed to be fully extended further towards the west to avoid such an occurrence, was finally scaled back in response to demands from Belgium. Indeed, Belgium feared it would be sacrificed in the event of another German invasion.

The line has since become a metaphor for expensive efforts that offer a false sense of security.


The Spirit of Locarno

The Treaty of Versailles


Tom Hanks — City Arts & Lectures Series

Im barely a podcast guy — and I’m definitely not a movie guy — and yet this is one of the best productions I’ve listened to lately.

A very recent presentation of Tom Hanks in conversation with Laurene Powell Jobs

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

KQED Broadcast: July 2, 2023

Venue: Sydney Goldstein Theater

As they say radio well worth listening to


Car Bloat Is Making US Streets Dangerous

International Phonetic Alphabet for American English - IPA Chart

Recently we conducted a survey among our visitors. The only question we asked was “Do you know the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet?”

The result was that up to 60% of visitors don’t know IPA symbols — including me.

Click and hear IPA sounds

Might need a little extra volume for Mike’s voice

Lela’s voice is louder and clearer


Why is a quadratic equation called 'quadratic', though it has a degree of two and quad means four?

I have questioned this all my life; for some reason, I never looked up the etymology till now.

Click for Anshu’s answer

Etymology of quadratic by etymonline

trend quadratic word usage Striking upturn in 1950.
Surprising usage trend, I think.


Polynomials are simply products of linear equations

Click to see the LIVE curves

The quadratic is the product of 2 linear equations — the orange equation is the product of the left two green equations.
The cubic is the product of 3 linear equations — the red equation is the product of the three green equations.
defining formulas
Defining formulas

What is the most general equation for the area of a triangle?

Click to activate my latest LIVE Desmos graph (standard)
Click to activate my latest LIVE Desmos graph (mobile)

Drag the 3 vertices of the triangle
Click on green or blue lines (above P3) to incrementally adjust the triangle
Desmos graphs look best on a desktop screen.
On a small mobile device select the mobile version, use landscape mode, and (maybe) collapse the left cell functions bar
Desmos graph of triangle
Verification that the area of a triangle is width times height over two.This is subtly different wording than what is traditionally taught.Width times height over two is more general than

Base times height over two.

It works even when the base is tilted.



What weather app has the most beautiful graphics?

Sail in the heart of Semaine du Golfe

La Semaine du Golfe
La Semaine du Golfe is a weeklong festival in Brittanny, France

Fascinating video! Maybe a little dangerous

Google map of the Gulf of Morbihan (France)

Cape Verde & Trans Atlantic passage
Who knew?

What is a century?
Excerpt from Quora — Bobi Lloyd

Three out of every four centuries are 36,524 days each, while the other century has an extra leap year so has 36,525 days.
Rounding that all centuries have 36,525 \text{ days}. It’s okay, we’re going to do more approximating.
We have (36,525 \text{ days}) \times (24) \times (60) \times (60) \to 3{,}155{,}760{,}000 \text{ seconds }
Now rounding again and taking \text{Giga}=\text{one billion}=10^9:

3{,}155{,}760{,}000\text{ seconds } \approx \text{ } \pi \times 10^9\text{ seconds}
Or how long is a century?

The Hewlett-Packard (HP) garage

Submorphemes (phonesthemes)
And why is there a ‘w’ in ‘wrap’?

Thanks to Sarah Lawley for bringing this to my attention.

The notion that phonesthemes exist is in itself controversial.

The existence of the phonestheme also contradicts the orthodox position expounded by Nida (1949) and Hockett and Hockett (1960:90) that the morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language.

One example of this is the evolution of the ME verb fnesen (‘sneeze’), via neeze to sneeze in the 15th century. It is likely that the phonetic appropriateness of the sn‑cluster and its associations with the nose led to sneeze being widely adopted and superseding the older forms.


Phonestheme Table Part 1
Phonestheme Table Part 2
Phonestheme Table Part 3

The Heat Index and the Wind Chill
We’ve all wondered … how are they calculated?

Two presentations (with deep insight into the basis for the heat index). When calculating wind chill, note that the windspeed must be 3 miles per hour or greater.

At the museum — regarding prints

The fascinating story of Robert Hutchings Goddard
Check out the photos in the wiki article.Dr. Goddard and a 1918 version of Bazooka

Sortition — an idea whose time has come
Excerpt from wiki

In governance, sortition … is the selection of public officials or jurors using a random representative sample. This minimizes factionalism, since those selected to serve can prioritize deliberating on the policy decisions in front of them instead of campaigning.

In ancient Athenian democracy, sortition was the traditional and primary method for appointing political officials, and its use was regarded as a principal characteristic of democracy. Sortition is often classified as a method for both direct democracy and deliberative democracy.

Excerpt from wiki

High epistasis is usually considered a constraining factor on evolution, and improvements in a highly epistatic trait are considered to have lower evolvability. This is because, in any given genetic background, very few mutations will be beneficial, even though many mutations may need to occur to eventually improve the trait. The lack of a smooth landscape makes it harder for evolution to access fitness peaks. In highly rugged landscapes, fitness valleys block access to some genes, and even if ridges exist that allow access, these may be rare or prohibitively long.

Inherent vice

n. the tendency of material to deteriorate due to the essential instability or interaction among components


Nitrate film and highly acidic paper suffer inherent vice because they are chemically unstable.
An object made of metal and leather suffers inherent vice because the leather causes the metal to corrode.


How a Word For “Blood” Came to Mean “Optimistic”

sanguine (adj.)
by 1500, “cheerful, hopeful, vivacious, confident”

Other definitions

sanguine (adj.)
late 14c., “blood-red, of a blood-red color”sanguinary (adj.)
1620s, “characterized by slaughter, attended by much bloodshed” (classical sense of “pertaining to blood” is rare in English)

sanguinity (n.)
late 15c., “consanguinity, blood-relation,” (a sense now obsolete)

Stigler's Law
Stigler’s law of eponymy

Stigler attributed the discovery of Stigler’s law to sociologist Robert K. Merton, from whom Stigler stole credit so that it would be an example of the law. The same observation had previously also been made by many others.

Matilda effect

The Matilda effect is a bias against acknowledging the achievements of women scientists whose work is attributed to their male colleagues.

dry rot

Good information and several stunning photos.

Excerpt from wiki

Excessive moisture above the fiber saturation point in wood is required for fungal colonization and proliferation.

‘Dry rot’ is an 18th-century term that generally described what is now called brown rot. The term was used because the damage was present in cured or dried timber of ships and buildings and was thought to be caused by internal ‘fermentations’ rather than water. This contributes to the etymological fallacy that dry rot requires less or no water than other species that use the brown rot decay mechanism.

Biochemical Pathways

Excerpt from wiki

Sarooj is a traditional water-resistant mortar used in Iranian architecture, used in the construction of bridges, and yakhchal. It is made of clay and limestone mixed in a six-to-four ratio to make a stiff mix, and kneaded for three days. A portion of furnace slags from baths is combined with cattail (Typha) fibers, egg, and straw, and fixed, then beaten with a wooden stick for even mixing. Egg whites can be used as a water reducer as needed.

Quebec Bridge

Quebec Bridge — St. Lawrence Waterway — 1907

Led to the formation of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the organization that would later become the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

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