Archive for August, 2005

And the Inequality of the Day is: Young’s Inequality

26 August 2005

(2/r)A r B = (A^2)/(r^2)+r^2B^2

Or have a look here for more general form of Young’s inequality.


Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum

25 August 2005

If you thought, as I did, that Umberto Eco only writes crazy books for hardcore intellectuals then you might want to change your mind. Change your mind on the fact, that he only writes books for intellectuals, thats is. “Foucalt’s Pendulum”is crazy enough, but it’s a great read.

Getting into it was quite difficult for me at first. But once the narrative moves from Paris (where the narration starts), to Italy, where the story starts chronologically, it becomes rather engaging. There’s no point into going into much more detail about the book here, there are plenty of reviews of this book all over the internet, so I’ll just concentrate on what I liked the most about it.

The very first thing that I liked was the part where the main character is trying to “hack” into his friends computer. This scene is described very well and unlike in other books it can’t be faulted even from computer scientist’s perspective. Forget all the Holywood junk; this is real. There is even a BASIC program, included verbatim, that produces all the combinations of certain four letters, that might be the password. You see, there is a bit for everyone in Eco’s books.

Another came when Belbo is complaining about people unable to carry out logical deductions properly. Very nice examples and if you actually take the time to read them properly then you realize that they’re not trivial at all. It is also a very important part of the story because eventually the characters of the book then start ignoring the rules of logical deduction. Purely as a joke at first, just to see what happens. The consequences are rather scary. They all start sliding into madness involving Templars and all sorts of mystical ballast, based only marginally on historical facts.

As the book works on many levels it also happens to give you an amusing insight into how publishing works in this world. It sounded very realistic and was rather amusingly described. There are plenty more fun parts in the book and I can’t really list them all here, partly because I don’t even recall them all.

The story becomes very engaging eventually and the ending is quite powerful and surprising. Yet it still makes perfect sense in the narrative universe of the story. On the other hand I’d don’t don’t think I’ve quite figured out all the things that were going on there. It didn’t bother me. I think it’s an essential part of the “Eco” experience. He can be different things to different people and that’s great. I’m already looking forward to seeing what other people have to say about the book and what I can learn from their perspectives.

Urban cycling is unhealthy, now it’s official

23 August 2005

This isn’t really going to surprise anyone. According to this Sunday Times article, Urban cyclists raise their risk of heart disease. As if anyone expected that the diesel fumes from crappy busses can be good for them. What I think is bad news is that diesel exhaust includes nanoparticles of carbon and a range of metals. The particulates are so tiny that experts say it is pointless for cyclists to wear masks, because the mesh cannot be fine enough to block them. Also Those cycling at high speeds in the hope of improving their fitness levels are doing themselves the most damage by breathing in a higher volume of the polluted air.

Luckily the news aren’t all that bad. First the research has been done assuming that the subject is cycling for a whole hour. Maybe if it’s just 20 minutes we can cope better. It also says that There is no dispute in principle about the health benefits of cycling �?? it improves the circulation, keeps weight down and boosts overall fitness �?? yet the new research indicates that they could be outweighed by the polluted conditions of a busy road. The emphasis is on could be outweighted. So maybe it’s still healthier to cycle anyway.

So am I going to do anything now that I know this? Not really. I never expected urban cycling to be that healthy. Besides the benefits on my mental health due to the fact that I’m not frustrated by the public transport are enormous. What I might do is to modify my route so that the uphill parts don’t go along any main road. I’m not sure that that could work, since any modification would mean cycling for at least 10 minutes longer. Now would that be healthier or less healthy? In fact I think one still has to worry most about not being run over.

Czech Republic – police state

1 August 2005

The people in the Czech Republic have witnessed quite unsettling events over the last weekend. More information can be obtained from the banner.

If you hapeen to be in Prague come and protest.

Back again

1 August 2005

I haven’t been posting anything here for ages. Over the last month I’ve been “offline” for quite a while and when I have been online, I was quite busy. I’ve been to Dolomites for a week to do some climbing:
More pictures are here

Even before that I had a chance to test a really great mountain bike (Blur from Santa Cruz) in the French Alps, near Chamonix, which was great as well. I’ll post a more proper review at some stage. The weather was really nice: