Have half a billion dollars to spare?

The Powerball lottery drawing later this week has an estimated jackpot of $1.4 billion, the largest in US history, easily beating the $656 million Mega Millions prize in 2012. Although I don’t buy lottery tickets, the size of the prize made me wonder about the odds involved and whether it might be worthwhile to pick every single number to guarantee winning.
[Read more…]

Documentary on solving Fermat’s Last Theorem

Blogging will be light during the holiday break but if you too have time on your hands, I think many people will find enjoyable this 46-minute documentary made (I think) in 1997 that looks at Andrew Wiles’s quest to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem. I did not understand almost all of the sophisticated mathematics involved but that did not matter.
[Read more…]

Balmy weather in the northeast US

Those of us who live in the northeast of the US have all been remarking on how warm it has been, with temperatures often running at twenty degrees Fahrenheit over normal. Today is expected to be in the mid 60s, about 30 degrees above normal. It is truly strange to see people wearing shorts and walking their dogs past green lawns on Christmas Eve in Cleveland. In response to yesterday’s post, commenters who live in Australia also weighed in with how much of a heat wave they are going through right now.
[Read more…]

Great moments in airport security

Forrest M. Mims III is an award-winning inventor who attends conferences all over the world. This requires him to travel with all manner of gadgetry that contains exposed circuits and the like. Naturally this results in airline security becoming alarmed and he writes about his experiences, including one that ended up with him being put in a chokehold by the pilot of his plane.
[Read more…]

Where people like and don’t like to be touched

In our social interactions with others, there is often some touching involved, such as handshakes, hugs, pats, kisses, and so on. Clearly the limits are also influenced by the relationship of the two people and some things that are acceptable with friends may not be so with acquaintances. Complicating matters are gender and culture, with some societies seeking to eliminate contact entirely between strangers or acquaintances. This whole area is full of pitfalls that accompany inappropriate touching and I tend to take the cowardly way out and let the other person initiate the level of touch.
[Read more…]

Creepy Cruz on climate change

There is something vaguely creepy about Ted Cruz.

It is more than the smug expression that is his standard face. He also has the sly expression of someone who thinks he is way smarter than you and can argue better and thus can make you believe what he says. This confidence is shown in the way he flatly distorts things and uses his skills in sophistry to try and make his lies sound truthful.
[Read more…]