21 November 2020

Trying out an ambigram of my name

As I mentioned last night, I learnt about “ambigram”s while reading a book by Alex Bellos. For our purpose, we can say an ambigram is a calligraphic writing such that when you hold the paper upside down, you get the same writing!

That is quite an achievement! I looked up the internet and found some free ambigram generators. I am trying to learn how to write an ambigram of my own name.

It does get your mind to think in a different way when you are practicing every stroke. Basically, you have to think how that stroke will look when you hold it upside down and is it going to build up the other letter you need to build up. (The letter that is as far from the end as is the one you are writing from the beginning). So while writing my first “R”, I have to do it in a way that if I turn it upside down, it should look like the last letter “y” and I have to draw the exact opposite of how I wrote “R” in the end to write “y”.

You will see that after half an hour of trying, my output is still amateurish. You can even spot the mistake I made in the last letter. I also realized that I need to get a thicker nib from the calligraphic pen set than I did this morning.

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20 November 2020

Scripts of five different languages

After storm Zeta and learning the Greek alphabet, I had this crazy idea – albeit not too crazy as far as my ideas go – what if I tried to learn the script of another language?

I remembered, while in Mongolia, I had great difficulty reading their language. So, figured maybe I should try some language with a Cyrillic script. Settled down on Russian. The language has 33 letters and 10 vowels. Eventually got the hang of the upper case and lower case. The pronunciation was a different thing though. There are lots of sounds that are not there in English language (some are there in my mother tongue Bengali). A lot of the letters look like English but have nothing to do with the corresponding English letter. I am still struggling with the difference in pronunciation of “Й” and “ы”. All in all, was interesting to pick this up. I am going to keep trying to identify the letters in words and pronounce them thru the end of this year.

So, with English, Bengali and Hindi (based on Devnagari script), that makes it 5 different scripts for me. (I am not counting German and Spanish since they are too close to English).

Thinking of picking up one more. Tamil has a very different script. At one time, I had taught myself the script (back in 1985). Maybe I will brush that one up…

15 November 2020

Life of Pi

I was reading up on Pi (the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle) – in a book by Alex Bellos – and realized how little I knew about this number and how fascinating it is.

For one, all my life, I never realized that Pi can be expressed by this simple formula. Frankly, my first instinct looking at the series was that it does not converge – let alone add up to exactly one fourth Pi !

Ramanujan – who I had heard a lot about when I was growing up in India apparently created a famous formula for Pi – which I did not know either. I was aware of the Ramanujan numbers but not of his work on Pi. The remarkable part of the formula is that right at the outset if you put n=0, it gives an accurate value of Pi to the sixth decimal place! If you put n=1, it will add another eight digits of accuracy to the value of Pi and so on!!

Fairly scary looking formula though:

Modern computers have calculated Pi to – hold your breath – 2.7 trillion places!! To put this in perspective, if we used just 39 places, we can calculate the circumference of the circle that can circumscribe the whole known universe to the accuracy of less than an atom of Hydrogen!!!

And yet, no patterns of repetition (of any set of numbers – two-digited, three-digited…. million-digited …. and so on) has ever been found in that sequence. Thus we know one thing – Pi is NOT a rational number.

Another interesting data and I will let you go… If you start narrating the digits of Pi, you will not encounter a zero in the first 10 digits… or 20 digits… or even in 30 digits. (It comes as the 32nd digit – and yet, the first 200 billion digits in Pi have been studied for distribution – all of them occur in very similar numbers!!)

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14 November 2020

Two interesting charts on Covid

This is data on Covid spread in India. Fascinating data.
1. 70% of Covid patients did not spread the virus to ANYBODY. On the other hand, 10% of Covid patients caused 60% of the spread of virus.

2. The second one is even more fascinating. It is the young adults who are spreading the virus most (I assume that is because they tend to be more social and gather in groups?). And people tend to spread to other people of similar age as their own (I assume because people tend to congregate with folks of similar age group)

(Source: The Economist)

17 October 2020

Second cousin once removed? Or is it the other way round?

The other night, Avi, Sharmila and I were discussing what would your mom’s aunt’s daughter be to you. (See here). As I had explained to them that would be first cousin once removed.

Some time back, curiosity had gotten the better of me in terms of what are the rules of this nomenclature. Turns out there are some fairly nifty rules. The biggest shock I had was that generations way before you can also be your cousin! I always thought cousins are at your own generation or maybe below your generation.

The following chart (thanks to Alice Ramsay) is a neat way to picture it in your mind. If you are more of a rules based person (which is the way I think), this is what I have boiled it down to…

Let say you are trying to find the relationship of person A to you.
Keep traversing up the tree (your parent, A’s parent) till you find a common ancestor.
Let’s say you had to jump “x” steps and A had to jump “y” steps.
Take the minimum of x and y. Let’s say it is “w” (w=x or w=y). Take (w-1)

If (w-1) is at least 1, then A is your (w-1)th cousin. Now take the difference in your generations – which is (x-y). The absolute value is the difference in your generations. Let’ say, that is “d” (x-y=d).

Then A is your (w-1)th cousin, “d” times removed!!

So to calculate your mom’s aunt’s daughter… You have to jump to your mom’s mom’s mom to find a common ancestor. And the other person has to go mom’s mom to get to the same point. Minimum of 3 and 2 is 2. 2-1=1. So the person is your first cousin. Now you had to jump three times to get there and she had to jump twice. Which means the difference in generation is one. (3-2 = 1)

So, she is your first cousin, once removed.

In short, jump from either side till you get a common ancestors. The minimum value in jumps less one is the “what”-eth cousin. The difference in the jumps is the “how much” removed.

What if (w-1) was not at least 1? Then they are siblings (at same generation level) or uncles/aunts at higher generation and nephews/nieces for lower generation. For every generation jump you go Great, Great Grand, Great Great Grand, 3rd Great Grand and so on.

Of course if the jump up and down goes thru you (all points are common ancestor/descendants) then they are your child or parent – with the same Great, Great Grand, Great Great Grand, 3rd Great Grand rule…,

See if the picture makes it easy..