Questions, Answers, Tips, and Ideas on topics of your choice.

'The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained.'
(David Bohm)


Those who prefer a picture to ten thousand words might like my other blog — LIGHT COLOUR SHADE.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The answer.

Looks like no-one has managed to crack the puzzle, so I got down to work. It took me quite some time,  mainly because I approached the task as if it were Riemannian geometry, but it turned out to be much simpler.
The first step is to rearrange the numbers to make 34 in each row, column and diagonal. You’ll see that numbers 1, 8 and 13, 7, 9, 2 stay put, while numbers 15, 5, 12, 10, 4, swapped places with numbers 11, 6, 16, 14, 3. So all you have to do is cut the square 1 along the red lines and switch pink and blue figures to form the square 2.
square 1 
square 2

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Friday, 29 October 2010

Should we fear aliens?
Part II: First Contact — Glad Hand.

Stephen Hawking in Zero Gravity NASA
Stephen Hawking in Zero Gravity (NASA)
“We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet.” “Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach. If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.” — Stephen Hawking.

Although I’ve already expatiated at length on the reasons why we should fear aliens, it turns out there’s yet another cause for alarm — our infinite fatuity and brainlessness. The other day I heard one of these stories on the news that make you wonder if it’s Orson-Wells’-recital-of–The-War-of-the-Worlds style hoax, or the powers that be are once again kidding the populace. In times of economic crisis, UN decided to splash out and assigned a Malaysian boffin to greet aliens on behalf of the entire humanity.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Does absolute Good and Evil exist?

Musings on the nature of Absolute Good and Evil.

"Are there, infinitely varying with each individual, inbred forces of Good and Evil in all of us, deep down below the reach of mortal encouragement and mortal repression — hidden Good and hidden Evil, both alike at the mercy of the liberating opportunity and the sufficient temptation?" — Wilkie Collins.

Absolute Good and Evil. (Satan before the Lord, Corrado Giaquinto)
Absolute Good vs. Absolute Evil.
(Satan before the Lord,
Corrado Giaquinto.)
“In religion, ethics, and philosophy, the phrase, Good and Evil refers to the evaluation/judgement of objects, desires, and behaviours on a two-way scale, with one direction being morally positive ("good"), and the other morally negative ("evil"). "Good" is a broad concept but it typically deals with an association with life, continuity, happiness, and prosperity. Evil is simply defined as the opposite of Good. Depending on the context, good and evil may represent personal judgments, societal norms, or claims of absolute value related to human nature or to transcendent religious or philosophical standards.” (Based on Wikipedia definition)

Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
 “The only objects of practical reason are therefore those of good and evil. For by the former is meant an object necessarily desired according to a principle of reason; by the latter one necessarily shunned, also according to a principle of reason. “ — Immanuel Kant.

 The big question is whether there is absolute Good and Evil, although it’s part of a bigger question — if so why? Whetstone for human spirit? For the thrill of it? Is it a local phenomenon or it’s valid for the rest of the universe(s)? But that’s like asking WHY God exists. Makes the mind boggle. I’m afraid we’ll have to settle for the answer 'Because He Does' in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The greatest con artist ever?

'In fact, to gull a fool seems to me an exploit worthy of a witty man.'  — Giacomo Casanova.

A Teacher
 You can’t deny it takes a special talent to pull off a brilliant swindle. Believe it or not, but the following story really happened. To me it qualifies as one of the best scams of all times. This masterpiece of swiz took place in a remote village somewhere in the Far East in the late seventies.

One day the village school decided it was high time to give their pupils some fancy education, which came down to teaching them foreign languages.

For now unknown reasons they picked French, but the snag was that their chances of finding a French teacher in such a wilderness were as slim as of spotting a kangaroo in their local forest.

Unbelievably, though, they were in luck — a recently recruited history teacher happened to know some French, or so he claimed, and was happy to double as a French coach.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Breaking down the Bible
Genesis, 4
The First Mourning.

Genesis 4:1

 'And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.'

It seems they weren’t supposed to have sex before the Fall, were they? How would they have reproduced then?

Genesis 4:3

 'And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.'

Genesis 4:4

'And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:'

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Can you trust organic food?

We are what we eat.

The answer is — can you trust humankind? Nothing created or done by these devil incarnates, aka humans, is 100% trustworthy, since human nature usually perverts everything. (Of course, I mean humanity in general, not all the individuals it’s made up of).

Organic products
Organic products
You can’t possibly check whether, say, organic grains have been mixed with non-organic ones, or the organic seal is fake, just as you can never be sure where your conventional food comes from — they might use local packing for Chinese etc foodstuffs, they might be genetically modified, or grown near a nuclear cemetery etc, etc.
It’s an uphill battle.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

How to lose weight (about 10 kilos) in five days?

Turns out it’s pretty simple, besides it won’t cost you a penny (no pills, no specific treatment or fancy therapies), but there’s a downside — it’s a bit tough.

 All you have to do is move house ....all by yourself, providing of course it’s no less than about 1 km (the upper limit is up to you) away from you actual abode. Literally.

That's how full your trolleys should look

Lose weight doing removals

Which means doing it without removals van, or any external help, just with a wheel barrow, supermarket trolley or, if you prefer the hardest way, any board with wheels. Mind that first you have to take your things down from at least the third floor and then probably drag it all up to at least the second floor without using the lift. Granted, you probably won’t be able to handle things like fridges, cookers or wardrobes, but the rest is within your reach.

Another absolute must is that it should be done in a hurry, so push your cart, supermarket trolley or whatever as fast as your fitness will let you and make about 40 trips each day. And don’t you dare stop to rest during the trips or have full meals in these five days.
Afterwards stick to a low-salt low-fat balanced diet to keep your so effortfully sculpted figure.

Trust me, it works. I know it for fact — the other day a friend of mine said no way she was paying removals company that much just to move her junk several streets away, in addition her car had just broken down, so she did it her way, that is, by hand. I have to mention, though, that she lives in a small town with no much traffic, I’m not sure you could pull it off in cities like New York or London.
A week later we could hardly believe our eyes when we saw her.

The moral of the story — sometimes stinginess really pays off.

Warning: don’t try this method if you have some medical condition!
Consult your doctor first.

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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Great figures in opera? All gone.
In Memoriam Cesare Siepi.

I’m kind of getting off the track here, but the other day I was having a casual conversation with a couple of friends on great opera singers of all times inspired by the recent death of Cesare Siepi which eventually ended in reflections on the demise of great figures in opera. Although with some delay I’d like to pay tribute to one of my favourite bass-baritones, because I owe moments of elevated joy to artists like him.

What can you say when a genius dies?

Bewail not life with its exhausting breath,
What’s life and death? But moan about the flame,
That over the whole creation blazed,
And parts into the night, weeping as it fades.
A. Fet (copyright © 2010 by Brainstorming Ideas)

Cesare Siepi
Cesare Siepi

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Brain-twister with answer.

  1 15  5 12
  8 10  4  9
 11  6 16  2
 14  3 13  7
A brain-teasing question this time. A 13-year old boy challenged us to an apparently simple riddle. I suspect he just couldn’t find the answer. Much to my shame, I’ll have to rack my brain for quite some time — I’ve never been on good terms with numbers.
Anyway, can you beat us to it?

Here goes the puzzle:

Cut this square in four parts and rearrange it so that the sum of the numbers in each column, each row and each diagonal equals 34.

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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

What are the dangers of nanotechnology?

"Science is an edged tool, with which men play like children, and cut their own fingers"  — Arthur Eddington.

Most scientists will harangue us about the highly acclaimed newfangled panacea — “nanotech”, that is basically controlling matter or building machines which could re-order matter on a molecular and atomic scale. It usually deals with 1 to 100 nanometre structures. The concept was first used by Richard Feynman to describe the possibility of manipulating individual atoms and molecules using a set of precise tools, which in plain language means we could take the building blocks of matter and create literally anything. That of course after we had got around certain problems, such as gravity losing ground to surface tension and van der Waals attraction, etc.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Breaking down the Bible.
Genesis, 3
The Fall.

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modelled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty." — Albert Einstein.

This is a crucial event in the book and history of mankind, because this is the point where all our misfortunes began...
Despite the fact that it should be taken as an allegory, something terrible must have happened anyway. We became weak slavish mortals; lost all privileges and were ousted from the paradise.

The Fall
The Fall.

(Capella Sistina. Michelangelo)

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Should we fear aliens?
S. Hawking says we should.

"Suppose that tomorrow a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth, beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals. Would they have the right to treat you as you treat the animals you breed, keep and kill for food, (and I’d add, pleasure or experiments)?" — John Harris.

Grey. Should we fear aliens like him?
Should we fear
aliens like him?
First of all, what are the odds that there exist alien civilizations other than in our Solar system?

Well, as for me, I stick to the concept of precedent — if something happened once, it’s physically possible, therefore nothing can definitely rule out the probability of existence of intelligent life beyond our planet (in case we agree to consider life on the Earth intelligent!), either in this universe or in parallel dimensions. On the other hand, the mediocrity principle states that Earth is not special, but merely a typical planet, which is a bit far-fetched in my humble opinion.

Actually, the probability is pretty high, which leads us to the Fermi paradox:

How come that while the age of the universe and its vast number of stars suggest that a multitude of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations should exist even in the Milky Way galaxy, we still haven’t seen any evidence such as spacecraft, probes or at least radio transmissions — well, officially. Although, Ufologists do report sightings almost every day.

Here is how the exact scientific wording sounds:

“The apparent size and age of the universe suggest that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations ought to exist.
However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it.”

Thursday, 27 May 2010

'Lost' Explained: a Disappointment.
'Lost' Answers.

There’s a definition for this — a total fraud. They’ve been having us on all along!

Lost. The island
'Lost'. The island.
I've never felt so duped, to think that I've wasted two hours watching this heap of monumental bullshit — I'm still kicking myself. The most depressive (I was hesitating over whether to hurl the TV set from the balcony or simply drop it on somebody’s head), cloyingly sentimental and botched up finale I’ve ever seen. You could put up with it in a one-season show, but six years to end up in a swamp of absurdity!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

String Theory — The Music of The Spheres?
M-theory (Superstring theory) and Brane cosmology.

String theory simplified and poeticised.

Schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen
Die da träumen fort und fort,
Und die Welt hebt an zu singen,
Triffst du nur das Zauberwort.

(Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff)

Magic wand
Sleeps a song inside all things
Dreaming in the spellbound world
That will waken up to sing,
You just find the magic word.

(Proverbs. Sentence poem by Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff)
(as I didn't like the available English version, I translated the poem myself — mind that I don't have a foggiest idea of German.
Please don't copy without permission. Copyright © 2010  Brainstorming Ideas.)

String theory — science or philosophy?
I’m going look at it from a philosophical or even romantic point of view. This theory especially appeals to me because it’s based on a very musical idea — strings, and ‘music’, as Nietzsche put it, ‘is the true Idea of the World’ or in other words ‘world is materialised music’ (Schopenhauer).

This is what string theory is all about: the electrons, quarks and other particles are 1-dimensional oscillating "strings", possessing only the dimension of length. Their vibration determines the particles' flavour (quantum number of an elementary particle, which describes values of conserved quantities in the dynamics of the quantum system), charge, mass and spin. In addition, the superstring theory claims that a "supersymmetry" exists between bosons and fermionsforce carriers and matter. But probably its most mind-boggling peculiarity is that such theory requires the existence of several extra unobservable dimensions — M-theory, for instance, puts forward eleven-dimensional space-time.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Quantum Entanglement Questions.
Quantum Weirdness.

'We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry.' — N. Bohr.

What I most love of quantum mechanics is that it is nondeterministic, which means that it’s generally doesn’t predict the outcome of any measurement with certainty. Instead, it just provides the probabilities of the outcomes, so that ‘measurements of a certain property done on two apparently identical systems can give different answers’ — to put it simply, the Truth is unfathomable. That’s how I’ve always perceived the universe and therefore life: governed by the uncertain definition inherent in its very core.

Quantum entanglement, also called the quantum non-local connection, is a property of a quantum mechanical state of a system of two or more objects in which their quantum states are linked together so that to describe one object you have to take into account its counterpart — even if they’re spatially separated.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Hawking Radiation and Black Hole Evaporation.

Bekenstein-Hawking radiation questions.

'There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature...'  "The philosophy of Niels Bohr" by Aage Petersen.

How does Hawking Radiation work?

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
In 1974, Stephen Hawking set forth a theory that due to quantum effects black holes should emit a thermal radiation with a black body spectrum. Actually, he drew on two soviet scientists’ work who claimed that rotating black holes should create and emit particles according to the quantum mechanical uncertainty principle. That means that black holes can lose mass and, if they spew out more matter than they gain, they might shrink, evaporate and eventually vanish.

This analysis is allegedly the first serious shot at a possible theory of quantum gravity, but there’s a catch — the existence of Hawking radiation hasn’t been proved so far. NASA launched a satellite to search for the expected gamma-ray flashes from the evaporating primordial black holes, and CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is bent on creating micro black holes in order to observe their evaporation, or that’s the part they let us in on.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Breaking down the Bible.
(Genesis, 2)
Creation of Man.

Genesis 2:2

'And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.'

The Maker that is perfect in every possible way worked only for six days out of His infinite existence and had to take the seventh day off, for the rest of the eternity I guess, and has been kind of monitoring/contemplating the masterwork he launched ever since, living a leisured life. Why would He need rest after only six-day’s work? Tired? Who, the Almighty?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Casimir effect, vacuum fluctuations and zero-point energy.

Or what I make of it.

'Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.' Albert Einstein.

It turns out a great number of science lovers seek simple explanation of abstruse scientific topics rather than techno-babble and a pile of mind-bending equations. As one great physicist said, if you can’t break a complex scientific question down so that even your granddad understands it, you yourself don’t understand it. Whenever we come across such questions we relish the chance to stretch our thinking muscles and give our lay associative insights into the matter.

First, to put it simply, classical mechanics deals with macroscopic objects, that is, things visible to the naked eye, while quantum mechanics deals with the wave-particle duality of atoms and molecules. That said, according to quantum field theory (quantum description of a physical field), the Casimir effect is a physical force produced by quantised field.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Prophetic and Self-Fulfilling Dreams.
The Interpretation and Meaning of Dreams.

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
W. Shakespeare. The Tempest, (Act 4, Scene 1). 

Hypnos, God of Sleep
Hypnos — God of Sleep

Many people wonder how to interpret their dreams and if they really mean something. Well, dreams do have great significance to me and with good reason. I know from personal experience that there’s a kind of alternate reality we can only tap into when our conscience is turned off and instead our subconscious is unleashed.

Friday, 19 February 2010

‘Lost’ philosophy.
Destiny vs Free Will.

'There is no purpose to life, but it’s not an accident.' — Richard Dawkins.

Statue of Taweret
Statue of Taweret.
What I like about ‘Lost’ is that it’s the kind of science fiction that has some ideas apart from action-packed sequences and convoluted plot, the leitmotif being whether the Oceanic flight 815 crashed by accident or design. Regardless what the creators idea was, it’s a classical question of causality and blind chance.
When Locke asks Sawyer why he thinks he got to the island, the latter grumbled that his plane happened to crash, then because his raft blew up, because the helicopter couldn’t carry extra weight, etc. To which Locke/the Monster answers, ‘That’s not why you are here’.

— Why are you on this island?
— I’m on this island because my plane crashed, because my raft blew up, because the helicopter I was on was riding one too heavy.
— That’s not why you are here.

Similar questions have been posed in Thornton Wilder’s THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY, where the characters were doomed to meet their deaths in the collapse of the bridge as a logical outcome of their lives and personalities. "Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual's own will?" was the question posed by the author, which is basically fate vs. free will. As a matter of fact, every time a number of people die or get injured in an accident a mind-boggling question raises its ugly head — did some superior force make it happen accidentally on purpose?

Some people believe there’s a cause for everything; others say it’s just a blind chance. Personally I’m inclined to think that chance is an unperceived necessity.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Is Time Travel Possible?
Science or Science Fiction?

'Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity.' A. Einstein

One of quite a few unsolved problems in physics is whether it is possible to time travel, but are there really any solved problems or it’s just an illusion? For most people time travel is a common plot device in science fiction, although I’ve always considered travel to the past a sort of Deus Ex Machina, since it doesn’t make much sense to me. Conversely, the possibility of time travel to the future is arguably deducible from special and general relativities based on the phenomenon of gravitational and time dilation linked to the speed of the observer.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Breaking down the Bible.
(Genesis, 1)

“The light and spirit of the Divinity are the wings of the soul.” — Plato

I’ve always believed that the Bible was one of the most abstruse, mysterious and mind-boggling books ever written in the world. That explains why there have been so many contradictory interpretations of the same text, none of which made the meaning any clearer, though. No doubt it’s a record of historical events, moral guidance and words of wisdom, but I wonder how much of its text was added by Pharisees and later Christian priests seeking to manipulate and enslave the uncultured masses, "survived the purging of texts considered to be heretical (either out of stupidity or in order to look after the clergy's mean interests) in the founding years of Christianity as a church", or was simply lost in translation. As an Italian saying goes: traduttore — traditore (a translator — a traitor). 
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