Category Archives: modern life

A taxing algorithm

My first encounter with the term algorithm did not come from Don Knuth. I learned it from the Internal Revenue Service. Sometime in the late 1960s or early 70s the IRS introduced a redesigned Form 1040 based on a principle … Continue reading

Posted in computing, modern life | 12 Comments

A Glitch in the Maptrix

We must always be on the lookout for glitches in the Matrix—anomalies that give us a fleeting glimpse into the algorithms and data structures of the computer simulation that we call Reality. But there’s also the Maptrix, the alternative reality … Continue reading

Posted in computing, modern life, photography | 9 Comments

The rhodometer

Years ago I lived in a house with a rhododendron outside the kitchen window, which served as our family thermometer on winter mornings. If the leaves were tightly rolled, you bundled up in gloves and scarf and ski cap; if … Continue reading

Posted in modern life, science | 2 Comments

My First 1000000 Years

Limites Hay una línea de Verlaine que no volveré a recordar, Hay una calle próxima que está vedada a mis pasos, Hay un espejo que me ha visto por última vez, Hay una puerta que he cerrado hasta el fin … Continue reading

Posted in mathematics, modern life | 7 Comments

Boldface names

Strolling across Killian Court, the only sizeable patch of public grass on the MIT campus, I glanced up at the entabulature pictured above. Chiseled into the marble façade are the names of eleven celestial mechanics: astronomers and mathematicians who figured … Continue reading

Posted in mathematics, modern life, science | 1 Comment