Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gardner Gathering

Penn and Teller hang out with magicians and mathematicians at a Gardner Gathering - meetings held in honor of the writer Martin Gardner.

Number Gossip

Number Gossip
Number Gossip: Plug in your number!

Find out which number is: composite, deficient, even, odious, palindromic, powerful, practical ...

The Tudors / Sweating Sickness

I've been watching the Showtime series The Tudors on DVD. It started out 'ok' but become more engrossing as it went on. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of looking up the historical figures in Wikipedia and found there were major historical inaccuracies in the show, which I found distracting. I should have waited until finishing the show!
The show mentions a devasting epidemic of "sweating sickness" in England at the time. I assumed that was another term for the bubonic plague, but apparently it's a completely different disease. The exact nature of the sweating sickness is still unknown.

The Early Universe

Let there be Light: the Emergence of Structure out of the Dark Ages in the Early Universe
The initial conditions of our Universe can be summarized on a single sheet of paper. Yet the Universe is full of complex structures today, such as stars, galaxies and groups of galaxies. In this review I describe the standard theoretical model for how complexity emerged from the simple initial state of the Universe at early cosmic times through the action of gravity. In order to test and inform the related theoretical calculations, large-aperture telescopes and arrays of radio antennae are currently being designed and constructed. The actual transition from simplicity to complexity has not been observed as of yet. The simple initial conditions were already traced in maps of the microwave background radiation, but the challenge of detecting the first generation of galaxies defines one of the exciting frontiers in the future of cosmology. Once at hand, the missing images of the infant Universe might potentially surprise us and revise our current ideas.

Polarisation vision

The secret world of shrimps: polarisation vision at its best
New Form of Vision Discovered