Monthly Archives: September 2010

The allure of mock meat


Why is it that supermarkets uniformly carry a wide variety of mock meat products? Many omnivores assume it’s because we have a secret desire to eat meat, and that’s the closest we can get to it. Therefore, it ought to … Continue reading

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You could have discovered the Jones polynomial


How do we tell when two knots are the same and when they are different? That is, if we start with one of them and fiddle around with it for a while, might we eventually make it look like the … Continue reading

Posted in math for everyone | 2 Comments

Book review: Devil’s trill


In the world of Baroque music, in which most pieces are given such wonderfully lucid titles as “Suite in D Major” or “Mass in B Minor,” Giuseppe Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill Sonata” stands out. The story is that, in a dream, … Continue reading

Posted in book reviews, music | 1 Comment

Book review: Nickel and dimed


Occasionally, those of us who live our lives in wealth and comfort might stop to think about how those less fortunate than ourselves manage their lives. Millions of people in the US alone live off low wages, under $10 an … Continue reading

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He’s a bit undersized, and you don’t feel surprised when he tells you he’s only eleven


In round 2, I faced Vignesh Panchanatham, for the third time. We had previously played twice in Sacramento, with each of us winning one game. And, despite what I suggested in the title, he’s only ten. The increase of strong … Continue reading

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Chess: Adventures in the Scotch Game


As I have done nearly every year since 2002, I played in the CalChess Labor Day tournament in San Francisco this weekend. This has long been my favorite tournament: it’s well-populated by friends I’ve made over the years, and I’ve … Continue reading

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Book review: The image of the world


Mapmaking is a tricky business. There are many issues that must be worked out. In addition, for a cartographer of times past, there was the question of figuring out what the world actually looks like. Perhaps the most basic question … Continue reading

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