Click on images if you want to make any of them bigger.
e-mail to my nephew in Patagonia. Yes, he lives in Patagonia, Punta Arenas (Sandy Point) to be precise.
Hola D** y L***,
Once upon a time my response time to interesting and/or important communications was near-instantaneous, but as I have recently surpassed the 23741 day milestone, things is a-slowing down and I am easily distracted by all sorts of Alarums and Diversions and Hautboys in Another Part of the Forest.
Indeed, as you have so surprisingly brought to my attention,
[see topmost image above]
which, despite my careful calculation of the days I have been alive, escaped my attention -- and I love Prime Numbers the way normal people love chocolate and Lady Gaga.
The mathematician Hardy recalled of the self-taught number theorist Ramanujan
"Every positive whole number was one of his personal friends."
Everpresent at the fringes of Number Theory -- you can't get rid of it even if you use Lysol or Clorox or Dettol -- is Numerology, the conviction that within the Set of the Positive Whole Numbers lurks a powerful Sacred Magicke -- beginning with elementary crap like the number 13 (I am told some skyscrapers and office buildings are designed to have no 13th Floor, the elevator buttons just go 11 12 14 15), and then stuff like 666, but Numerology can get far more obtuse and arcane then that. Kabbalah may be the High-Water Mark of Numerology, and for about the last ten years this aberrant, verkakte bad neighborhood of Judaism has gone viral with the Celebrity Elite, chiefly Madonna, who is now an avowed Kabbalist. I got a pal in Lisboa who tells me her synagogue just hired a Kabbalist Rabbi, the whole joint now guides its adult and child members toward Kabbalah Truth, Wisdom and Sanctity.
The inventors of all modern Number Theory, the guys and gals who put it on the map, the Pythagoreans, were drunk on Numerology, so the Magickal Properties of Our Friends the Positive Whole Numbers has a very sexy and ancient provenance. One can only scoff at Numerology just so much, after which one is scoffing at The Master -- and The Master's adherents were so serious about this stuff that they flung a guy over a cliff to his death for proving that one of The Master's fundamental tenets was Wrong. (Such was their devotion to mathematical Truth that they notified the world of his discovery, but they were so pissed off that the moment he finished his blackboard demonstration, they hauled him out of the temple and threw him over the cliff.)
(Details of what The Master got wrong on request.)
So by what Engine or Craft did you discover that
[see topmost figure]
? My ability to program is currently Off-Line, so I had to resort to this cheesy site, and how they do it I haven't the foggiest notion.
When I was at Alice Deal Junior High School, my classmates and I were selected to be los Conejitos des Indies for an experimental curriculum which eventually became The New Math. There I learned the most amazing, bizarre Magicke Trick: The Sieve of Eratosthenes. This old dead Greek fart (c. 276 BC – c. 195 BC) cranked out a method to find all the Primes up to any desired number, and the goddam thang worked so goddam fast and so goddam well that the world's biggest supercomputers still use it to find huge primes and test themselves. Were you ever taught The Sieve? When the lightbulb dimly began glowing in my junior-high brain, I was just astonished, gobsmacked. This was One Very Smart Guy.
[see middle image]
Eratosthenes was no 1-Trick Pony. Using the lengths of shadows of sticks at Alexandria and Syene (modern Aswan), he computed the first accurate circumference of the Earth. (Of course he, and all sailors, knew it was a sphere.) He was the Librarian of the Great Library and Museum at Alexandria, and a pen-pal of Archimedes in Syracuse.
Okay, at your slightest urging, I will be delighted to Prove To You that there is an Infinitude of Primes, that there exists no greatest Prime, beyond which there are no more primes. It's my fave Euclid proof. It's also a real gobsmacker.
[Abraham] Lincoln's birthday is coming up. For doing some electioneering for the local Illinois political boss, he was appointed a state surveyor -- a slight embarrassment, as he knew totally zilch about surveying. They gave him a theodolite and a crude Surveying Primer, and off he went to lay out Illinois' roads and county boundaries. (Most of his roads and boundaries remain as he surveyed them.)
He noticed that all over the Primer, on nearly every page, was
and he asked around about this Euclid guy, and was eventually lent a copy (in English) of "The Elements." Late in life he told an interviewer that he eventually completed every proof and demonstration and construction in Euclid, and that it was the most profound intellectual experience of his life. I've always been convinced that forcing himself to master Euclid (a feat best accomplished with a big bottle of aspirin) made him the undefeatable trial lawyer and debater he became.
Euclid Alone Has Looked on Beauty Bare
Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare,
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.
O blinding hour, O holy, terrible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shone
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay
Oh! Speaking of which -- you have 28 days to prepare for the world's most important fiesta:
[See bottom image]
which of course falls on 3/14 . (Traditionally you're supposed to bake and eat a pie.)
Saturday 11 February 2012
Israeli reaches Chile plea deal to plant trees
(AP) SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile has settled its criminal case against an Israeli hiker accused of negligently causing a fire that destroyed much of the Torres del Paine national park.
Under Chile's obsolete Forests Law, pyromaniacs or negligent tourists can be fined no more than $300 for setting fires in national parks.
So instead of seeking a conviction, prosecutors worked out a deal with Israeli hiker Rotem Singer designed to restore much of the area destroyed after he allegedly set fire to toilet paper and it burned out of control.
The 23-year-old Singer has agreed to pay $10,000 and raise other money for an environmental group that will buy 50,000 native trees that will be used to replant the park by Chile's national forestry agency.
© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.