Category Archives: physics


My friends up north tell me they have quite enough snowflakes already, thank you. Nevertheless, Janko Gravner and David Griffeath are making more. Or, rather, they’re making snowfakes (the word is theirs, not mine): In case there’s any doubt, the … Continue reading

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Bumped off

Two of the best science-blog articles of 2007 appeared early in the year at Cosmic Variance. They were written by John Conway (not the John Conway, the other John Conway) and gave an inside view of what happens in a … Continue reading

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Hung over

The drawing below, brazenly swiped from a 1964 Martin Gardner column, illustrates the solution to a well-known puzzle. If you stack n bricks on a table, how far can you make them extend over the edge without toppling? The answer … Continue reading

Posted in mathematics, physics, problems and puzzles | 1 Comment


Hardware is hard, whereas software is soft; the people who named these things knew what they were talking about. A while ago, I volunteered to help a friend upgrade the disk drive of an Apple iBook. My first clue that … Continue reading

Posted in computing, mathematics, physics | 3 Comments

Quantum numbers

Quantum computing gets a lot of attention, but we don’t hear much about quantum mathematics. The very idea is an affront to Platonist thinkers everywhere—those of us who consider the elements of mathematics to be independent of the physical universe. … Continue reading

Posted in computing, mathematics, physics | 2 Comments