Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Inkanyezi Principle

The Inkanyezi Principle - 'Why use one complex knot when two simple knots can do the job better'

Article from Knotting Matters Issue No. 1 Autumn 1982

AMBITIOUS JIMMY HICKS, by John Masefield (1878 - 1967)

".....I made a spring, slipped, steadied myself, cast the painter around the mooring hook, and made the boat fast. "A round turn and two half hitches," I murmured, as I passed the turns, "and a third half hitch for luck." "Come off with your third half hitch," said one of the sailors. "You and your three half hitches. You're like Jimmy Hicks, the come-day go-day. You want to do too much you do. You'd go dry the keel with a towel, wouldn't you, rather than take a caulk? Come off with your third half hitch."

"Well, of all the red-headed ambitious fellies I think Jimmy Hicks was the worst .... ,He wasn't never happy unless he was putting whipping on ropes' ends, or pointing the top-gallant and royal braces.....Always doing something..... Always doing more than his piece.....If he was told to whip a rope, he pointed it and gave it a rub of slush and Flemish-coiled it.....You want to be warned by him.....You hear the terrible end he come to.....So as they was coming home they got caught in a cyclone off the Mauritius.....So it was all hands to the pumps.....By and by the pumps choked..... "Lively there," says the mate, "Up there one of you with a block. Out to the mainyard arm and rig a tackle. Lively now....She's settling under us." So Jimmy Hicks seizes a tackle and they hook it onto the longboat, and Jimmy nips into the rigging with one of the blocks in his hand. And they clear it away to him as he goes. And she was settling like a stone all the
time. "Look slippy there, your" cries the mate, as Jimmy lays out on the yard. For the sea was crawling across the deck. It was time to be gone out of that."

"And Jimmy gets to the yard-arm, and he takes a round turn with his lashing, and he makes a half hitch, and he makes a second half hitch. "Yard arm, there!" hails the mate. "May we hoist away?" "Hold on," says Jimmy, "till I make her fast," he says. And just as he makes his third half hitch and yells to them to sway away - ker-woosh! there comes a great green sea. And down they all go.....All the whole lot of them. And all because he would wait to take the third half hitch. So
you be warned by Jimmy Hicks, my son. And don't you be neither redheaded nor ambitious."

(MORAL: Always use the simplest knot that will do the job. Ed.)

Monday, 19 October 2009

Beauty of Math

Beauty of Math !


1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

Brilliant, isn't it?

And look at this symmetry:

1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

But imagine a world without tomorrow, a world tidally locked to its sun (much as our moon is to earth) with one face perpetually in light and the other the void of night.  What sort of life would evolve on such a planet devoid of a regular reminder of time.

No days, no night, no seasons.  No sleep, for in a world of forever light, sleep would bring the certainty of rapid predation, but then, on such a world what would be the value of sleep?  Would it ever have evolved?

Moments would pass unmarked - birth, growth, eat, procreate, die.  Just a continuum.

On such a world, would intelligent life ever conceive of time?  No stars, moon, seasons, day and night to tell us that anything exists beyond the here and nothing to indicate the presence of time itself except perhaps the momentary fall of an object or the passage from one place to another (but then without seasons why should you move?)

Without tomorrows, and seasons and stars at night, we would never have developed our calendars and our clocks and our perception of time itself - even though we still don't understand exactly what it is...

Perhaps we 'fools' strut upon our stage because we have an understanding of the existence of time and indeed of space itself.

Enjoy today and look forward to tomorrow.

A Walk Through Time

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Destroying the Conservation of Momentum.

A thought experiment.

Take a sealed system, a container.

Inside the container, against one wall, eject an electron.  It will have momentum mv and will have imparted an equal and opposite momentum into the wall of the container.  Left to its own devices, the electron will fly across the container and impact the opposite wall, when the two momenta will cancel one another out.  If we had been able to look carefully enough, we would have seen the container jiffle slightly as it momentarily held the created momenta component.

But what if...  part way across the container, the electron met a wanton positron and together they fused in the perfect dance of energy creation.  Energy does not have momentum, so where did the electrons momentum go ??

More to the point, the container is now left with unresolved momentum and will continue to move under its influence until some external force steps in and stops it.

Action begat reaction, but action got itself totalled leaving only reaction.

Keep this up and the container will start to wiz along without any interaction on the outside world - reaction without action (granted, the formation of all that energy within the container is going to make it one smokin hot pot), but it is a pot that is breaking the law of conservation of Momentum - or is it ??

e in different bases -- 2.B 7E 15 16 28...

If aliens sent us the constant e, would we recognise it?

The constant e in decimal to 20 places is  2.71828 18284 59045 23536...  sure, you spot that one without any trouble.

But what about --

In binary it is 10.101101111110000101010001011000101000101011101101001...

In ternary it is  2.20110112122110201101222210201102...

and in hex it is   2.B7E151628AED2...

Would you have spotted any of those ?

courtesy of