Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Science-ish Variety

-- A lot of the hoo-rah over the "March for Science" indicates a poor understanding of science? Color me shocked.

-- Leonardo of Pisa, better known as Fibonacci, is best-known today for the numerical sequence that bears his name. You start with 0, then 1, then the next number is the sum of the previous two numbers (so, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8...). Now, this sequence was actually known long before he lived in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. His actual major achievement was convincing Europeans to ditch the III's, IV's and XVIII's of the Roman system and adopt the Hindu-Arabic numerals we use today and employ the zero to denote positions such as tens, hundreds, thousands and so on. He demonstrated the simpler system in a book called Liber Abaci, which had nothing to do with candelabras but showed everyday folk how to use the new system to calculate in everyday life. While appreciated by many for his work, the fact that Liber Abaci also introduced "the word problem" into math is held by some -- most students doing homework -- to tarnish his legacy

-- Physicists have created a "superfluid" which has the property of "negative effective mass." Essentially, that means it reacts in precisely the opposite way you would expect: Push it left, it goes right. Although this is the first time such a substance has been created in a laboratory, most parents say that their children frequently demonstrate the exact same characteristics. And note: The substance acts like it has negative mass; it doesn't really have it.

-- Playing Monopoly in Klingon? "I have a house on that property. You owe me rent." "I burned down your house and slaughtered all of its residents. I owe you nothing."