Archive for December, 2008

Steamrolled images

If you know much about RGB color components, you know that they don’t directly relate to brightness. More generally, greens on an LCD display are much brighter than blues.

A few months ago I found the precise formulas on Wikipedia, and implemented them in Python. Recently I took the next step:


December 29, 2008 at 9:46 am Leave a comment

We must hunt down the 2^2^5th human.

2^2^6=18,446,744,073,709,551,616 (18 quintillion)

Based on Wikipedia’s data, this person was born in the late 70s. “These people”, actually, because population fluctuates a bit. More precise data from the Census gives the year 1978.

Unfortunately, nobody noticed this huge milestone (hasn’t happened for thousands and thousands of years, may never happen again!), despite the celebrations every time we hit n*10^9 (y’know, every billion people). (side note: 10^10^1 is the UN’s lower bound for the final, stable world population after 2200.(Doublenote: that PDF goes on and on about its multiples of powers of an arbitrary physiological accident. Pfft.))

So, Mr. Binary is 30; if we find him soon, we can still catch his 2^5th birthday. But we’ll have to hurry. Words in this post: 2^(2^(2^2-1)-1)-1, according to WordPress.

December 28, 2008 at 7:35 pm Leave a comment

Timeline of Extraterrestrial Contact

2137 AD / 0 YA: First Contact is made, classified as Extraterrestrial Species 1 (ETS1).
2140 AD / 3 YA: Alliance Calendar is introduced jointly with ETS1. 2137 is now Year Zero of the Alliance.
4 YA: Humanity (homo sapiens) retroactively classified ETS0
23 YA: ETS2 discovered
30 YA: Small trading dispute breaks out between ETS0 and ETS1
43 YA: ETS2 reclassified ETS1
46 YA: Interstellar War Memorial completed
67 YA: ETS2 discovered
112 YA: ETS3-6 discovered together
114 YA: ETS4-6 reclassified ETS3-5. Second Interstellar War ends.
211 YA: ETS0-5 reclassified ETS1-6 (July)
211 YA: ETS2-6 reclassified ETS1-5, new ETS1 assumes control of ETS classification system (August-November)

~13730000000 BC / T-129-234-174.43: Experiment Gamma-37 begins
~4000 BC / T-129-236-127.91: Technology develops in Gamma-37 at area of study
0 YA / T-129-236-128.62: Gamma-37 shows signs of first interspecies alliance
T-129-236-128.65: Selective editing required in Experiment Gamma-37
T-129-237-174.43: Experiment Gamma-38 replaces Gamma-37. Gamma-37 terminated.

It’s very difficult to make something like this subtle without making it impossible to figure out.

December 21, 2008 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment

US shoe sizes are metric! Sorta-ish.

(Data source:
On the bottom there is the foot length in centimeters (the “Mondopoint” scale), used for ski boots and such.]
On the vertical axis you have US and Canadian size. The line on the left is kids’ sizes (note the inexplicable half-size jump); the main line is adult sizes.

From size 4 up, the shoe size is just the foot length, in centimeters, minus 18. From 4 down, the sizes count every half-centimeter. Don’t ask me why. The main reason I posted this is because we Americans, so proud of our aggravatingly unique measurement system, have been using metric every time they buy shoes. With a few random discontinuities and glitches.

After all, this is America; the land of the free and the home of the archaic, nonsensical measurement systems.

December 20, 2008 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Fun with homophones

“Parody”, “parroty” and “parity” all sound exactly the same, but have very different meanings and origins, with one surprise connection:

-“Parody”, an imitation, from the Latin parodia, from the Greek para- “beside, parallel to” (in this case, “mock-“) + oide “song, ode.” (Online Etymology Dictionary)

-“Parroty”, the somewhat questionable adjective form of parrot, from the French Pierre (or possibly the more fun “perroquet”, parakeet, from Italian “parrocchetto”, little priest, from Church Latin “parochus”, parish, from Greek paroikos, neighbor (para- “near” + oikos “house”))

-“Parity”, fairness or equality, from French parité, from Latin paritas, equal, from “par”.

So the “par” in each word derives from Greek for “near” or “similar”; parroty, from parakeet, from priest, from neighbor: near a house. Parody, similar to or imitating a song. And parity, which has a more direct connection.

December 13, 2008 at 4:10 pm 1 comment

A d20 with all 210 dots!

So, I was fiddling with a handful of dice and wondering what to blog about.
Then I realized that there was no need to use numbers on the larger dice. Why not just use lots of dots in distinctive patterns?
The multiples of three were easy, and anything equivalent to 1 mod 3 could be made symmetrically by putting a dot in the center. However, those equivalent to 2 mod 3 (such as 20 itself) were much more difficult to make attractive.

Overall, I like the way these came out, although the dots don’t quite line up, thanks to my clumsy MS Paint techniques. A d12 is actually harder, because it’s very hard to make dots look good inside a pentagon. For now, I’m done with this, but I may include a d12 as a bonus in a later post.

December 13, 2008 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

“Eden”: Sci-Fi meets religious fiction

This is a random experimental story. It’s also your weekly update. The master of this sub-genre is, of course, Asimov.

2058 AD
In a bunker hidden deep beneath a mountain, the last remnants of humanity struggled to survive. They loved, hated, worked together, fought, and held on to the final scraps of what had been all of human knowledge and culture. And deeper still, in a laboratory like a cyperpunk aircraft hangar, a man put the finishing touches on his plan to set things right.

The machine worked according to plan, and Jackson felt a slight tug, and saw himself walk around backwards. His past self sped up comically, rapidly disassembling the machine he sat in.

Jackson pressed a control, and rose up through miles of bedrock to the scarred, radioactive surface. He accelerated, watching the Last War play itself out in reverse. When all he could see was trees and green pastures, he stopped. What next? How could he convince the world’s greatest superpowers not to launch a war they were hell-bent on winning? (more…)

December 7, 2008 at 9:11 pm 1 comment

Human Souls

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