Archive for June 26th, 2007

Two commentaries from PNAS

June 26, 2007

Have fun!

Amazing rock solidification structures

June 26, 2007

Aardvarchaeology has some amazing pictures of Napoleonite rocks (etched by ice?); I do not know what my solidification friends call the process of the formation of this structure. But it sure is very interesting. Take a look!

Knowing geometry can save you money!

June 26, 2007

Matt tells you how; via improbable research. By the way, knowing a bit of analysis can also save your life (or, at least used to) as this story about Tamm indicates:

Sometime in 1919, after arriving in a nearby village, while Odesa was occupied by the Reds, Tamm was negotiating with a villager as to how many chickens he could get for a dozen silver spoons. He was captured by one of the Makhno bands who were roaming the country, harassing the Reds. Seeing his city clothes, his captors took him to the ataman, a bearded fellow in a tall black fur hat, with machine gun cartridge ribbons crossed on his chest, and a couple of hand grenades hanging on his belt. “You miserable communist agitator, undermining our Mother Ukraine! The punishment is death!” “No, no,” answered Tamm. “I am only a professor from the University of Odesa and have come to buy some food.” “Rubbish,” said the ataman. “What kind of professor are you?” “I teach mathematics,” responded Tamm meekly. “Mathematics,” sneered the ataman. “Theeyou should be able to give me a bound on the error one makes by truncating McLaurin’s series at the n-th term. If you cannot answer, you will be shot.” Tamm gasped to hear this question in higher mathematics come out of the mouth of the ruffian leader. With shaking hand, under the muzzle of a gun, Tamm was able to present an answer to the ataman. “Correct,” bellowed the ataman. “You may go free.” Who was this ataman? No one will ever know. If he was not killed in the battles of the time, he might have gone on to be a professor of mathematics in some Ukrainian university.

Wiki page on Igor Tamm, however links to a page, which seems to indicate that the story might have been an urban legend!