Category Archives: featured

A slight discrepancy

The image above shows the mesh top of a patio table, photographed after a soaking rain. Some of the openings in the mesh retain drops of water. What can we say about the distribution of those drops? Are they sprinkled … Continue reading

Posted in computing, featured, mathematics, physics | 36 Comments

Googling the lexicon

In 1860, when work began on the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (better known today as the Oxford English Dictionary), the basic plan was to build an index to all of English literature. Volunteer readers would pore over texts … Continue reading

Posted in books, computing, featured, linguistics | 3 Comments

Kenken-friendly numbers

I messed up a kenken the other day, carelessly forgetting that 2, 3, 4 and 6 are not the only divisors of 12. Later, mulling over my mistake, I realized that it’s the presence of the multiplicative identity that gives … Continue reading

Posted in featured, games, mathematics | 12 Comments

Swapping Lies

My next “Computing Science” column in American Scientist (due out in a few days) is an essay on reversible computing—on machines that can go through a calculation either forward or backward. The notion of building such a Janus-like device is … Continue reading

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