Built on Facts

Archives for November, 2008

Sunday Function

Here’s sin(x). What, you don’t believe me? Ok, ok, I’m leaving something out. Let’s do some background before I tell you what it is. The first thing we need is the incredibly interesting and important Euler’s formula. It’s the key that relates the exponential and trigonometric functions. We won’t pause to figure out why it’s…

News.

So what would the elementary quantum of solace be? The soliton? I haven’t actually seen Quantum of Solace yet, but I’m going to make a point to go at some time this week. The last Bond flick was great, and I have high hopes for this one. Most sequels don’t quite live up to their…

Photons, Universes, Etc.

I thought about linking this Forbes article on the economic situation simply because it’s interesting. What actually made me link it was the sentence at the end: And reality tells us that we barely avoided, only a week ago, a total systemic financial meltdown; that the policy actions are now finally more aggressive and systematic,…

Speculation Without Evidence

It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment. – S. Holmes Built on Facts is going on a brief (2 day) semi-hiatus as I’ve got a classical mechanics exam this Friday. It’s not a total break though. The posts will be there, but they’ll just be…

Tuning a Guitar, Problematically

Today in my recitation we discussed several problems in acoustics. One of them involved beats. This happens when two tones which are very close in pitch are played at the same time. There’s a demonstration on the Wikipedia article. I’ll solve the problem here since if it confused people in class there’s probably people googling…

Waiting (Gravitational) Tables

Let’s say you have a table. This table is better than your average table. It’s perfectly level, absolutely flat to within the thickness of an atom over its entire surface. In fact, this table isn’t even made of atoms. You called up Plato and ordered the platonic ideal of a flat table. Now you set…

Backyard Nuclear Reactors

There’s been an article in the Guardian that’s been circulating around various science blogs recently. There’s a proposal to make what small autonomous nuclear reactors, install them underground, and let them power local areas. Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years,…

Sunday Function

Math-averse readers! Do not be scared off! You can enjoy this entry even if as far as you’re concerned the equations are pretty pictures of Cypriot syllabary. Not long ago we looked at adding up lots of consecutive integers. Multiplying consecutive integers is also interesting, and not only that it has a tremendous number of…

Ghosts and Kamikazes

Another grad student potluck today! Not sure what I’m going to make, as I’m writing this yesterday (relative to you reading it on Saturday). Last time I posted my recipe for praline bacon, so continuing the tradition today I’m going to post a cocktail of my own invention: The Pearl Harbor 1 part vodka 1…

The Sky Above the Port

William Gibson revolutionized the world of science fiction with his dark and gritty but somehow impossibly cool cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. Dystopias have always been a staple of science fiction, but in this case the dystopia didn’t seem too horribly dystopic. Sure some computer might try to take over the world or some vat-grown ninja might…