Hello, my name’s Christian Lawson-Perfect and my main mathematical interest is “everything”.
Before The Aperiodical existed as its own thing, the only outlet I had for my mathematical eclecticism was a series of posts on the Acme Science blog called Aperiodical Round-Up. Eventually I stopped writing them, as work and family took up more of my time. This post has been sitting in The Aperiodical’s drafts folder for six years. Time to finish it!
Let’s begin with the first 10,000 digits of π dialled on a rotary phone.
Ten! TEN! TEN! Incredible. David Cushing asked me a very good question once: what have you done between five and ten times (inclusive)? Well, this is the last time ‘Writing an Aperiodical Round Up’ will be in the same category as ‘getting a new wallet’ and ‘saying hello to Peter Beardsley’.
Hello, my name’s Christian Perfect and, more often than an unbiased observer would expect, I find odd maths things on the internet.
Hello. My name’s Christian Perfect and I have some maths links for you.
Brad Neely, a member in good standing of my list of male role-models, once made a show called China, IL. Here’s a clip.
Mathematicians like to tell non-mathematicians (and themselves) that real maths isn’t like that; real maths is about seeing the structure behind the numbers and using pure logic to deduce true statements with enormous explanatory power. The platonic ideal of doing real maths involves going for a wander in your brain and then writing down a few of the true statements you saw along the way. But it almost never works out that way: you often have to start out by sitting down and crunching numbers, like any school-age chump, until you get a glimpse of what’s going on. Worse, sometimes it turns out that finishing the theory involves a reduction to cases, a.k.a. Yet More Crunching.
So, this one goes out to the number crunchers. Let these stories of quixotic computation give you solace.
Ladies and gentlemen, every now and then there comes a time when a man has gathered more maths links than he can comfortably hold on to and he is forced to loosen his grip, allowing the more wriggly ones a chance to slip away and make a break for freedom. On such occasions, the sticky surface of a specially-prepared blog post can be used to trap those links, preserving them in digital formaldehyde for closer inspection by the educated viewer.
That’s right: after literally a third of a year, I’m still Christian Perfect and here’s another Aperiodical Round Up!
I’m going to start with computers and calculators, because here’s a really good one: Thomas Fowler’s ternary calculating machine. It uses balanced ternary arithmetic for a variety of reasons which become very interesting when you build your own calculator. Mark Glusker did build his own calculator; that’s a picture of him on the right, looking quietly satisfied with a job well done. No specimens or drawings of the original calculator exist, so Mr Glusker’s machine is only representative of his idea of how it might have looked.
Hello. It’s been a while since the last Aperiodical. That’s exactly how long it takes me to prepare and write each issue, so here we are.
“Here” is not where it used to be, so I should explain — The Aperiodical is now the name of a big maths conblogerate, of which these untimely collections of miscellanea occupy a small corner. The first four editions of the Internet Maths Aperiodical are still available on ACMEScience.com, and will be for as long as Samuel wants them there.
So, on with the interesting maths links and so on!