29 November, 2009


"Mathematics has the completely false reputation of yielding infallible conclusions. Its infallibility is nothing but identity. Two times two is not four, but it is just two times two, and that is what we call four for short. But four is nothing new at all. And thus it goes on and on in its conclusions, except that in the higher formulas the identity fades out of sight."
page 1754
-Johann von Goethe, In J. R. Newman (ed.) The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster

This identity is infact a core part of Mathematics. Example. How would you prove that six times six and nine times four are one and the same thing? (Johann might say that they are not. They are infact what they are: six times six and nine times four respectively. But these are just different perspectives of the same object. Read on.) In the decimal world, you can name six times six thirty-six and nine times four also, thirty six and come to the conclusion that we are talking about the same object. In the hex world, we can name the same quantity twenty four. Names don't matter, what matters is that using these identities we can keep aside perspectives to focus on absolute objects. That is the essence of Mathematics! It kinda puts us in a frame of reference where we can safely define absolute w.r.t that frame of reference.

Now, one might argue that he can name six times six fooday-foo and nine times four, looday-loo. But, then asking for fooday-foo pencils or looday-loo pencils will give you the same number of pencils. So, its better to call them thirty-six.

Until and unless counting is redefined in a revolutionary new way, six times six and nine times four will have the same identity and thats a conclusion that is not just made-up from thin air.

09 November, 2009

Finding Flow

A colleague of mine recently recommended this book to me: Finding Flow by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
The best thing about the book is how the author's name is pronounced: "CHICK-sent-me-high-ee" :-D

Jokes apart, its a good book. It had been a long time since the philosopher in me was fed and groomed. It kinda reminded me of the college days when we pondered on how this human civilisation is one shithole at 3:00 am in the morning on the terrace of our society (Fighter Kombdas, remember? :D). A long reflection on self was long overdue and this book provided the perfect opportunity for it.

For starters, it horrendously breaks the myth of how we have come to define happiness and how much importance it has in our life. I like how Flow is closely related (or almost synonymous) to satisfaction. The book drove out all the radicalism that I had been accumulating for a while now. It has quenched my thirst atleast for now.

Its a short read of about 150 pages. It touches almost all aspects of our lives: work, relationships, solitude and provides a solid insight in why all this stuff really matters. It is a good afternoon read and will certainly change the way you perceive life, universe and everything! So, there's my recommendation!

07 November, 2009


Since I have nothing new to post about, here is some borrowed entertainment. Some of the one-liners are old-timers, and yet never fail to make you grin. Enjoy!

Word play:
1) I've got to sit down and work out where I stand.
Doesn't expecting the unexpected make the unexpected become the expected?

1) Sometimes I need what only you can provide: your absence.

General musings:
If it's true that we are here to help others, then, what exactly are the others here for?
2) How come we choose from just two people for President and 50 for Miss America?
Think about this...no one ever says "it's only a game" when their team is winning.
4) A conscience does not prevent sin. It only prevents you from enjoying it.

Don't frown. You never know who is falling in Iove with your smile.

Best way to prevent hangover is to stay drunk.
If your father is a poor man, it is your fate but, if your father-in-law is a poor man, it's your stupidity.
A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you are in deep water.
I'm as confused as a baby in a topless bar.
5) Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off now.

Don't take life too seriously, you won't get out alive anyway!
I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.
3) Of all the thirty-six alternatives, running away is best.

General lot:
1) If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
2) Living on Earth may be expensive... but it includes an annual free trip around the Sun.
3) Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake!