Archive for the ‘General interest’ Category

Bamboo bicycle – beautiful and functional

September 3, 2017

Imagine a handmade quality bicycle made with a bamboo frame.  The picture below shows a 2-speed cruiser, using a British step-back hub.  Each bamboo joint is glued and wrapped with 100 wraps of polycarbonate fiber reinforced tape.  Shown in the picture is Richard Harkness who made this bike with his own hands under the mentorship of someone who had made about 100 of these amazing bikes.  Notice the bamboo basket and the bamboo bike stand in the foreground.  The green rims complement the green bamboo beautifully.

Don’t try making this bike without a proper jig and under expert supervision; it is not an easy construction.  And by the way, it is not a cheap alternative to a standard bicycle, but it is unique and it is a conversation piece.  It is a work of art.

Bamboo Bike

 

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Investment Decisions – Brains Vs. Computers; Which is Better?

June 13, 2017

The two points of view represented below are both well reasoned, conflicting, and cogent, but can they both be right?  The experts currently disagree, but maybe one day the question will be answered definitively.  For now, it makes for an interesting debate, and only time will tell who is right.  Today’s answer may not be tomorrow’s answer.

A key question is how much data does one need in order to make smart investment decisions.  Those who believe best decisions come from analyzing tons of data lean towards computer algorithms, while those who think smart evaluations don’t require looking at every piece of data lean toward human understanding and interpretation.

The term “quants,” refers to those quantitative analysts who crunch the number and are more reliant on computers and algorithms.

Why Brains Are More Reliable Than Machines – WSJ

Quants_ Best Strategy Is From the 17th Century – WSJ

VC Firms Use Big Data to Seek Out the Next Big Thing

April 25, 2017

Venture Capital firms, that is, firms that invest in funding start-ups, early stage  companies, and companies with good growth potential, are always on the hunt for the next great opportunity.  The article below talks about the trend away from people who are expert in spotting such opportunities, and towards computer based analytics which is believed to be faster and better at finding the “next big thing.”

Venture-Capital Firms Use Big Data to Seek Out the Next Big Thing – WSJ

 

Liberal Arts Become Mathematical

April 25, 2017

“Adding Math To Save Humanities” is the title of a sidebar article in the Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2017, about liberal arts colleges trying to add more mathematical contents to traditional liberal arts courses to better prepare their graduates for the work world.  Along with the Big Data revolution comes the need for employees in many diverse fields to be able to analyze data and to “rigorously and effectively” use data to answer questions.  “Emory University in Atlanta has created a degree that marries traditionally qualitative disciplines such as anthropology and English with math and statistics.”  This shift is in part to due students enrolling in liberal arts programs in smaller numbers.  Click below for the full article.

saving liberal arts

“At the current rate…” and other assumptions

March 30, 2017

In order to make any predictions in any area of study, one must make assumptions about the data, and what is likely to affect it going forward.  That is why statistical studies often make use of such statements as:

“At the current rate…”

“If things continue as in the past…”

“Based on what we know now…”

“It is reasonable to assume…”

“If history is a guide…”

“If things don’t change…”

But things do change, and that is what makes predicting the future so difficult, and so vulnerable to known and unknown biases.  While these caveats are unavoidable, and need to be stated, they require the consumer of the statistics to have a reasonable amount of skepticism and a large amount knowledge.

A quote in a The Great Race by Levi Tillemann states that “The available supply of gasoline, as is well know, is quite limited and it behooves the farseeing men of the motor car industry to look for likely substitutes.”  This quote is attributed to Thomas J. Fay, in 1905, in a magazine call Horseless Age.

Economics Should be Required in High School

March 3, 2017

Economics is so basic and essential for good citizenship and good personal decisions, that it is a shame high school students can graduate without even being exposed to the subject.  An article by high schooler Benjamin Auslin from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, makes a strong argument that understanding supply and demand, the time value of money, return on investment and the basics of personal finance are skills that would well serve the graduates and society.

economics-shouldnt-be-an-elective-wsj

The Negative of a Math Photo

January 13, 2017

This beautiful example of single point perspective is printed as a negative image digitally.  The concept of a negative in math can be related to negative in photography if we think of it in terms of “opposite.”  This could be a teaching aid.

math-photo-2

 

Math in Architechture

December 26, 2016

The U. S. Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs  is an example of a very mathematical theme in architecture.  Symmetry, geometry along with the theme of jet aircraft.

air-force-academy-chapel

Movie Geometry – shaping the way you feel

November 1, 2016

Movie directors use shapes as well as color, lighting and sound to create moods and tell stories.  Triangles, circles, and squares are loaded with feelings.  This short YouTube video (4 min.) describes some of the common uses of shapes to communicate with the audience beyond the conscious into the unconscious.

Once you are made aware, you will notice the use of shapes in movies to convey more than words can say.

The Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded

October 6, 2016

The following two paragraphs are quotes from a fascinating article about how 3 physicists “playing” with math stumbled upon a remarkable and practical finding.  The link to the whole article follows the quotes.

“A trio of British-born researchers working in the U.S. won the Nobel Prize in physics for what one of them called a curious mathematical “toy” that to his surprise revolutionized the study of exotic matter suitable for quantum computers, new superconductors, and advanced designer materials.”

” “At the time, I thought it was of scientific interest and mathematical interest, but I didn’t think it would ever find a particular realization,” said Princeton University physicist F. Duncan M. Haldane, who shared the award for theoretical experiments he had conducted in the 1980s. “I basically stumbled on this playing with mathematics.” ”

For the whole article go to:

nobel-prize-in-physics-awarded-to-david-n-haldane-and-michael-kosterlitz-wsj