# Clarke’s Law

Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Benford’s Corollary: Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

Raymond’s Second Law: Any sufficiently advanced system of magic would be indistinguishable from a technology.

Sterling’s Corollary: Any sufficiently advanced garbage is indistinguishable from magic.

Langford’s application to science fiction: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a completely ad-hoc plot device.

# Math Notes

13 + 33 + 63 = 244
23 + 43 + 43 = 136

# The Necktie Paradox

You and I are having an argument. Our wives have given us new neckties, and we’re arguing over which is more expensive.

Finally we agree to a wager. We’ll ask our wives for the prices, and whoever is wearing the more expensive tie has to give it to the other.

You think, “The odds are in my favor. If I lose the wager, I lose only the value of my tie. If I win the wager, I gain more than the value of my tie. On balance I come out ahead.”

The trouble is, I’m thinking the same thing. Are we both right?

# Unquote

“Why are numbers beautiful? It’s like asking why is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don’t see why, someone can’t tell you. I know numbers are beautiful. If they aren’t beautiful, nothing is.” — Paul Erdös

# Math Notes

73939133
7393913
739391
73939
7393
739
73
7

… are all prime. So are:

357686312646216567629137
57686312646216567629137
7686312646216567629137
686312646216567629137
86312646216567629137
6312646216567629137
312646216567629137
12646216567629137
2646216567629137
646216567629137
46216567629137
6216567629137
216567629137
16567629137
6567629137
567629137
67629137
7629137
629137
29137
9137
137
37
7

But see Not So Fast.

# No Comment

Viagra keeps plants from wilting.

Israeli and Australian researchers found that a low concentration in water doubled the shelf life of cut flowers, from one week to two weeks.

# Recursive Gratitude

Mathematician J.E. Littlewood once wrote a paper for the French journal Comptes Rendus. A Prof. M. Riesz did the translation, and at the end Littlewood found three footnotes:

I am greatly indebted to Prof. Riesz for translating the present paper.

I am indebted to Prof. Riesz for translating the preceding footnote.

I am indebted to Prof. Riesz for translating the preceding footnote.

Littlewood notes that this could have gone on indefinitely but “I stop legitimately at number 3: however little French I know I am capable of copying a French sentence.”

# Math Notes

73 × 9 × 42 = 7 × 3942

# All Art Is Theft

Irish astronomer William Parsons might have been surprised to see van Gogh’s The Starry Night appear in 1889.

He had drawn this sketch of the Whirlpool Galaxy 44 years earlier:

# Pop Quiz

When calculating prodigy Truman Henry Safford was 10 years old, the Rev. H.W. Adams asked him to square the number 365,365,365,365,365,365 in his head. Dr. Adams wrote:

He flew around the room like a top, pulled his pantaloons over the tops of his boots, bit his hands, rolled his eyes in their sockets, sometimes smiling and talking, and then seeming to be in agony, until in not more than a minute said he, 133,491,850,208,566,925,016,658,299,941,583,225!

Safford (1836-1901) went to Harvard and became director of the Hopkins Observatory at Williams College. Strangely, his calculating abilities seemed to wane as he got older.