Reflections

I’m not sure who originated this — “Hiawatha at Miami,” a tale of auto-repair skulduggery. Composed entirely in letters with left-right symmetry, it was typed with a normal keyboard but must be read in a mirror:

OTTO TUOHTIW OTUA TAHT HTIW
IIAWAH TA AHTAWAIH
–!IXAT A TAHW — IXAT A TIH
.IMAIM TA ATOYOT A

:YVI OT WOV I TUH A TA
.IXAT A TIH AHTAWAIH”
HATU OT TUO TI WOT YAM I
“!YXAW OOT — WOT OT TIAW YAM I

IXAT A HTIW OTTO TUOHTIW
IIAWAH TA AHTAWAIH
-IXAM A — AMIXAM A TIH
!IMAIM TA (OTUA YM) AM

:AVA HTIW TUH A TA MA I
.OTUA YM TIH AHTAWAIH”
.ITIHAT OT TI WOT YAM I
“.OTTO OT TOOT OT TIAW YAM I

AHTAWAIH HTIW YOT YAM I
.OIHO — AWOI TA TUO
IXAT HTOMMAM TAHT WOT YAM I
.UHAO OT — IIAWAH OT

In the same spirit, here’s an equation discovered by Royal V. Heath:

1118 + 1881 + 8181 + 8818 = 1181 + 1818 + 8118 + 8881

Reverse that and you get:

1888 + 8118 + 8181 + 1811 = 8188 + 1818 + 1881 + 8111

Both equations remain true if you square all their terms.

Tupper’s Self-Referential Formula

tupper's self-referential formula

Graph this formula over 0 ≤ x ≤ 106 and kyk + 17, with k = 96093937991895888497167
29621278527547150043396601293066515055192717028023952664246896428421743
50718121267153782770623355993237280874144307891325963941337723487857735
74982392662971551717371699516523289053822161240323885586618401323558513
60488286933379024914542292886670810961844960917051834540678277315517054
05381627380967602565625016981482083418783163849115590225610003652351370
34387446184837873723819822484986346503315941005497470059313833922649724
94617515457283667023697454610146559979337985374831437868418065934222278
98388722980000748404719, and you get this:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tupper's_self_referential_formula_plot.png

Reasonable enough, right?

Twin Cities

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Palace_of_Westminster,_London_-_Feb_2007.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Young Pierre has never left France, but he hears that London is an attractive city. He adopts the belief “Londres est jolie” (“London is pretty”).

Now Pierre’s family moves to another country, whose language he learns directly, without translation into French. He learns that his new city is called London, and eventually forms the belief that “London is not pretty.” He doesn’t know that Londres and “London” refer to the same city.

What are we to make of this? We can’t deny the sincerity of Pierre’s original belief, which he still holds; nor of his new belief; and it seems absurd to claim that he holds both or neither. “Each possibility seems to lead us to say something either plainly false or downright contradictory,” writes Princeton philosopher Saul Kripke. “Yet the possibilities appear to be logically exhaustive.”

“This, then, is the paradox. I have no firm belief as to how to solve it.”

Stops and Starts

Charade sentences devised by Howard Bergerson:

FLAMINGO: PALE, SCENTING A LATENT SHARK! =
FLAMING, OPALESCENT IN GALA TENTS — HARK!

NO! UNCLE-AND-AUNTLESS BE, AS TIES DENY OUR END.
NO UNCLEAN, DAUNTLESS BEASTIES’ DEN YOU REND.

HISS, CARESS PURSUIT, OR ASTOUND, O ROC, O COBRAS!
HIS SCARES SPUR SUITOR, AS TO UNDO ROCOCO BRAS.

HA! THOU TRAGEDY INGRATE, DWELL ON, SUPERB OLD STAG IN GLOOM =
HATH OUTRAGE, DYING, RATED WELL? ON SUPER-BOLD STAGING LOOM!

In the same spirit: 1! 10! 22! 1! = 11! 0! 2! 21!

Blowing in the Wind

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DustStormInSpearmanTexas19350414.jpg

A dust storm approaches Spearman, Texas, April 1935. Vance Johnson, a resident of western Kansas in the 1930s, described similar storms there:

The darkness was dust. The windows turned solid pitch; even flower boxes six inches beyond the pane were shut from view. … Dust sifted into houses, through cracks around the doors and windows — so thick even in well-built homes a man in a chair across the room became a blurred outline. Sparks flew between pieces of metal, and men got a shock when they touched the plumbing. It hurt to breath[e], but a damp cloth held over mouth and nose helped for a while. Food on tables freshly set for dinner ruined. Milk turned black. Bed, rugs, furniture, clothes in the closets, and food in the refrigerator were covered with a film of dust. Its acrid odor came out of pillows for days afterward.

During a dust storm in January 1895, J.C. Neal of Oklahoma A&M College reported “flashes of light that apparently started from no particular place, but prevaded [sic] the dust everywhere. As long as the wind blew, till about 2 a.m., January 21, this free lightning was everywhere but there was no noise whatever. It was a silent electrical storm.”

The Value of Tardiness

One day in 1939, Berkeley doctoral candidate George Dantzig arrived late for a statistics class taught by Jerzy Neyman. He copied down the two problems on the blackboard and turned them in a few days later, apologizing for the delay — he’d found them unusually difficult. Distracted, Neyman told him to leave his homework on the desk.

On a Sunday morning six weeks later, Neyman knocked on Dantzig’s door. The problems that Dantzig had assumed were homework were actually unproved statistical theorems that Neyman had been discussing with the class — and Dantzig had proved both of them. Both were eventually published, with Dantzig as coauthor.

“When I began to worry about a thesis topic,” he recalled later, “Neyman just shrugged and told me to wrap the two problems in a binder and he would accept them as my thesis.”

An Alphamagic Square

alphamagic square

Each row and column in this magic square totals 170.

If you update the contents of each cell by spelling out its number in English, counting the letters and recording the result (26 = TWENTY-SIX = nine letters = 9), you’ll produce another magic square.