an exercise in miscellany

Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page


In words & phrases on April 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm

A milquetoast is a weak, ineffectual or bland person. It is derived from the character Caspar Milquetoast from the 1924 comic strip ‘The Timid Soul’.

via Milquetoast

Golden spiral

In science & nature, words & phrases on April 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

a golden spiral can be approximated by a "whirling rectangle diagram," in which the opposite corners of squares formed by spiraling golden rectangles are connected by quarter-circles

In geometry, a golden spiral is a logarithmic spiral whose growth factor b is related to φ, the golden ratio. Specifically, a golden spiral gets wider (or further from its origin) by a factor of φ for every quarter turn it makes.   There are several similar spirals that approximate, but do not exactly equal, a golden spiral. The result is very similar to a true golden spiral.  Approximate logarithmic spirals can occur in nature (for example, the arms of spiral galaxies). It is sometimes stated that nautilus shells get wider in the pattern of a golden spiral, and hence are related to both φ and the Fibonacci series. In truth, nautilus shells and many mollusc shells exhibit logarithmic spiral growth, but at an angle distinctly different from that of the golden spiral.

via Golden spiral

Fibonacci numbers

In money, technology & innovatons on April 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm

In mathematics, the Fibonacci numbers are the numbers in the following integer sequence: 0,\;1,\;1,\;2,\;3,\;5,\;8,\;13,\;21,\;34,\;55,\;89,\;144,\; \ldots\;
The Fibonacci sequence is named after Leonardo of Pisa, who was known as Fibonacci. Fibonacci’s 1202 book Liber Abaci introduced the sequence to Western European mathematics, although the sequence had been described earlier in Indian mathematics.
Fibonacci numbers are used in the analysis of financial markets, in strategies such as Fibonacci retracement, and are used in computer algorithms such as the Fibonacci search technique and the Fibonacci heap data structure. The simple recursion of Fibonacci numbers has also inspired a family of recursive graphs called Fibonacci cubes for interconnecting parallel and distributed systems. They also appear in biological settings,such as branching in trees, arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruit spouts of a pineapple,the flowering of artichoke, an uncurling fern and the arrangement of a pine cone.

via Fibonacci number

Change Blindness

In science & nature, words & phrases on April 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm

In visual perception, change blindness is a normal phenomenon of the brain which show in light that the brain does not have a precise representation of the world but a lacunar one, made of partial details. Despite the name, this phenomenon does not affect the eyes but the brain.  The brain estimates the importance and usefulness of informations prior to deciding to store them or not. Change blindness may be related to other induced failures of awareness, such as inattentional blindness. A crucial difference is that successful change detection in the presence of a visual disruption requires a comparison of one image to another one held in memory. Consequently, change blindness can occur due to to a failure to compare the relevant information from the current scene to the representation. Models of visual short term memory may be important for understanding the phenomenon.

a short video on you tube – Change Blindness; you cannot be aware of everything.

via Change Blindness

Neuro-linguistic Programming

In wild card, words & phrases on April 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

(NLP) is an approach to psychotherapy and organizational change based on “a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behavior and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them” and “a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behavior”.  The co-founders, Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder, believed that NLP would be useful in “finding ways to help people have better, fuller and richer lives”. They coined the term “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” in 1975 to emphasize their belief in a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience (“programming”) and can be organized to achieve specific goals in life.


via Neuro-linguistic programming


In history, technology & innovatons on April 5, 2011 at 9:05 pm

A tachistoscope is a device that displays (usually by projecting) an image for a specific amount of time. It can be used to increase recognition speed, to show something too fast to be consciously recognized, or to test which elements of an image are memorable. Tachistoscopes use a slide or transparency projector equipped with the mechanical shutter system typical of a camera. Tachistoscopes were used extensively in psychological research to present visual stimuli for controlled durations. Some experiments employed pairs of tachistoscopes so that an experimental participant could be given different stimulation in each visual field. For example, used during World War II in the training of fighter pilots to help them identify aircraft silhouettes as friend or foe. Tachistoscopes continue to be used in market research, where they are typically used to compare the visual impact, or memorability of marketing materials or packaging designs.

via Tachistoscope

Operation Dominic I and II

In operations and projects on April 5, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Operation Dominic was a series of 105 nuclear test explosions conducted in 1962 by the United States. Those conducted in the Pacific are sometimes called Dominic I. The blasts in Nevada are known as Dominic II. Most of these shots were conducted with free-fall bombs dropped from B-52 bomber aircraft. Twenty of these shots were to test new weapons designs; six to test weapons effects; and several shots to confirm the reliability of existing weapons. The Thor missile was used to loft warheads into near-space to conduct high altitude nuclear explosion tests; these shots were collectively called Operation Fishbowl. It was the largest nuclear weapons testing program ever conducted by the United States, and the last atmospheric test series conducted by the U.S., as the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed in Moscow.

via Operation Dominic I and II

The Population Bomb

In books on April 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm

The Population Bomb was a best-selling book written by Paul R. Ehrlich in 1968. It warned of the mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals, and advocated immediate action to limit population growth. The book has been criticized in recent decades for its alarmist tone and inaccurate predictions. Ehrlich stands by the basic ideas in the book, stating in 2009 that “perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future”

via The Population Bomb