The Quite Interesting Thread

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The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Alquiel on Thu 22 Apr 2010, 09:14

We have a Factoid Man. Would seem a shame not to use him. So here's a thread for all those quite interesting but odd facts that you may come across and want to share with people. We may be seeing a lot of Colt here....

Anyway, I'll start the proceedings with a little factoid about spiders. As you may be aware, the female of the species is generally much larger than the male - and will quite often like to post-coitally munch on her mate once the job's over and done. So when it comes to the male getting in there, doing his bit for spiderdom, and extracting himself swiftly in once piece, a few species have learned some neat tricks.

Some have taken to catching a fly, wrapping it up in a ball of webbing, and presenting it to their would be conquest. She takes it, starts unwrapping it, they get in there, do the business while she's busy, and nip off while she's finishing her "box of chocolates". Very crafty.

But....it's not as crafty as some species which have learned that they don't even need the fly, but simply present their potential mate with a ball of nothing but web, before getting in there, doing the business and nipping off before she finds that she's been presented with a beautifully wrapped but empty box of chocolates.

Here endeth my factoid. Colt?
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Erc on Sun 25 Apr 2010, 21:23

This is too much to get into for me, I'll just lose myself completely. So I'll let Richard Feynman do the talking.

Part 1

Part 2


Mind blown.
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Once upon a time...

Post  Colt on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 06:59

(As Alquiel will know, this was inevitably going to be my starting point. It is rather more of a rant than a factoid, but maybe you'll find it interesting, if rabidly biased.)


Once upon a time there was a bear. Like all bears it was an omnivore, eating a bit of whatever it could find. This bear would eat plants, fish, carrion and fruits. However the area that it lived in had one type of plant that grew far more abundantly than any other, a big tall sort of grass. Carrion was rare, fish difficult to catch, and fruit scarce, so it came to rely more and more on this one type of plant.

Over time its molars became bigger, and its jaw muscles became stronger, because it had to chew and chew to break down the plant. This gave it a big round face. In addition, because the plant had so little energy, the bear had to slow down, do less, move less, and developed a big tummy to keep all the chewed plant stuff in.

The outside of the thick stems was so low in nutrition, and so hard to eat, that the bear preferred it when he could strip the outer layers off. This could have been tricky to do - bear paws have no thumbs. Fortunately, though, he had been working on a thumb for some time, because it was useful for grasping branches and food and so on. He had allowed a sesamoid bone of his wrist to stick out a ways. It now proved exceptionally useful for holding and stripping the plant. This was clearly a step forward he thought.

But still he had no energy. He’d eat and eat all day, but was so tired he could do little more than mooch slowly to the next bit of big grass. In order to keep going at all he basically had to keep his tummy full, gurgling away. Indigestion was a daily problem.

He saw less of his friends and relatives, because socialising was too energetic, although he’d occasionally pee a hello on the borders of his land. Sex was way too much for him, and he dated less and less. The females seemed less interested too, though he thought this was partly because the young were born so small and seemed to take so long to grow up.

Eventually Man found the land of the bear. They called him a Giant Panda. He seemed to eat nothing but bamboo, which they found odd, because he was, after all, a bear, a carnivore. But they loved him for his round face, his strong black and white colouring, his big tummied cuddliness, and his slow, thoughtful, ambling gait.

But men needed land to work, and the bamboo was cut down, and the slow, stupid, clown-coloured, big-toothed, fat-bellied, frigid, dyspeptic, plant-eating, slow-procreating, over-specialised bear realised that sticking to a single type of food had been a really, really bad idea. It occurred to him that, although man was the cause of the environmental change that was resulting in the death of his species, it had been pretty inevitable, in an evolutionary sense, since he started to only eat bamboo. He had chosen to specialise, and like all specialists, was struggling to compete now that the environment had changed. And as an over specialised evolutionary dead-end, his species’ inability to adapt would inevitably result in their extinction.

Fortunately for the panda, he was so cute that man didn’t want him to die, didn’t want nature to take its course, and spent millions of dollars keeping him and his species alive. For some odd reason though, they never seemed to want to grow forests of bamboo, and give him his home back.


Last edited by Colt on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 10:01; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : inability to spell.)
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  berylia on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 07:42

Great Feynman video ! I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by him during my Physics days at University.

Here are two geeky Physics factiods which still keep me awake at night:

1) The number of real numbers is the same as the number of integers
2) The charge on the electron is the same (but opposite in direction/ sign) to the charge on the proton
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Erc on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 07:55

berylia wrote:Great Feynman video ! I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by him during my Physics days at University.

...I was born in the wrong decade.
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Colt on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 09:58

A little known fact.

It is illegal to keep Ferret's as pets in:
Queensalnd or Northern Territories, Australia
Portugal
Iceland
California
Washington DC
and New York City.
...and all Brazilian Ferrets must be sterilised.


(I'm looking forward to getting home so I can listen to Mr Feynman!)
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Rem on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 10:11

berylia wrote:1) The number of real numbers is the same as the number of integers
Actually .. it's not. Real numbers are uncountable.

Love how Feynman gets all excited about the exciting things he's explaining - that's true passion!

Also, love the History of the Panda, was quite amazed when you told me about it the first time.

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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Alquiel on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 10:17

Grrr. I now want a tee-shirt with that classic WWF style image of a panda and the words "slow, stupid, clown-coloured, big-toothed, fat-bellied, frigid, dyspeptic, plant-eating, slow-procreating, over-specialised bear" underneath it....
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  berylia on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 10:18

Erc wrote:
berylia wrote:Great Feynman video ! I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by him during my Physics days at University.

...I was born in the wrong decade.

Doh, that came out wrong ! I didn't have a lecture by the man in person (although that would have ruled for sure !): shortly before he died, he spoke at a conference that my particle physics lecturer attended; the whole thing was filmed, and we were give a series of particle physics lectures with Feynman speaking on video and my lecturer chipping in. Brilliant stuff, and Feynman was a genius but most of it was over my head, I could never get my head around it. Google "Feynman diagrams" if you want your head to be taken apart !

The other bit of physics that destroyed me was Einstein's General Relativity - that is fantastic stuff on a thought-experiment level, but when you write it down mathematically, it's horrendous !

Awesome stuff though ;o)
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  berylia on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 10:21

Rem wrote:
berylia wrote:1) The number of real numbers is the same as the number of integers
Actually .. it's not. Real numbers are uncountable.


True. But given a real number, you can add the relevant amount to it and raise it to the next integer. So that means integers are uncountable also.
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Aeranduil on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 10:23

Ahh, what a coincidence for this thread to appear.

My copy of 'The QI Book of General Ignorance' just arrived. I shall dazzle you all with amazing facts once I've fully digested its awesomeness.
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Rem on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 10:51

berylia wrote:
Rem wrote:
berylia wrote:1) The number of real numbers is the same as the number of integers
Actually .. it's not. Real numbers are uncountable.


True. But given a real number, you can add the relevant amount to it and raise it to the next integer. So that means integers are uncountable also.
You can also subtract the relevant amount from it and lower it to the previous integer, i.e. just concatenate everything after the decimal point. All this proves though is that integers are a subset of real numbers, not that they have the same cardinality. Having a function assign an integer to every real is not sufficient, it would need to be a unique integer - adding up or concatenating however assigns every integer an infinite number of real numbers, which really bears no meaning for cardinality.

Integers being uncountable would also kind of get us in trouble, since it would mean naturals are uncountable and that .. would make no sense! Not to say we're not in trouble, mind you Wink

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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Vae on Mon 26 Apr 2010, 12:11

I really feel like I have a serious lack of education after reading this post, it has made my little brain cells throb almost as much as my final year at university... *sobs* lol!
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Salvaenus on Tue 27 Apr 2010, 01:19

I must agree with Sharr, I r stoopid.

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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  berylia on Tue 27 Apr 2010, 02:54

Rem wrote:
berylia wrote:
Rem wrote:
berylia wrote:1) The number of real numbers is the same as the number of integers
Actually .. it's not. Real numbers are uncountable.


True. But given a real number, you can add the relevant amount to it and raise it to the next integer. So that means integers are uncountable also.
You can also subtract the relevant amount from it and lower it to the previous integer, i.e. just concatenate everything after the decimal point. All this proves though is that integers are a subset of real numbers, not that they have the same cardinality. Having a function assign an integer to every real is not sufficient, it would need to be a unique integer - adding up or concatenating however assigns every integer an infinite number of real numbers, which really bears no meaning for cardinality.

Integers being uncountable would also kind of get us in trouble, since it would mean naturals are uncountable and that .. would make no sense! Not to say we're not in trouble, mind you Wink

Hehe. I think the argument really comes down to what your definition of infinity is. Think of the real number line extending from +N to -N, with the reals and integers running along it. If N is finite (e.g. in a computer), then the number of reals will be greater than the number of integers. However, as you let N approach infinity, the number of integers increases and tends towards the number of reals.

I suppose there is also the worry about the precision of the real numbers as well, although thinking about that starts to make my head spin !!! Wink
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Jath on Tue 27 Apr 2010, 04:47

Erm...my interesting fact? Your foot is the same length as your forearm Very Happy

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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Rem on Tue 27 Apr 2010, 09:07

berylia wrote:Hehe. I think the argument really comes down to what your definition of infinity is. Think of the real number line extending from +N to -N, with the reals and integers running along it. If N is finite (e.g. in a computer), then the number of reals will be greater than the number of integers. However, as you let N approach infinity, the number of integers increases and tends towards the number of reals.
I honestly think you're confusing infinity with uncountability. Infinite sets can be countable or uncountable (there's also some reasoning on whether there is something in-between, but neither hypothesis is inconsistent with the rest). According to conventional mathematics (i.e. not taking into account exotic axiom sets) natural, integer and rational numbers are infinite and countable, while real numbers are infinite and uncountable. That despite both sets being infinite there is not the same number of integers as there is real numbers is actually quite an important point in mathematics - not all infinities are the same.

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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Vae on Tue 27 Apr 2010, 11:36

Now i r confusssssed, isn't inifinite errr infinite, like perfection is perfect, it can't be categorised or graded because it is in fact, perfect!? Man why does maths always make your head hurt, it's like showing an Irish man a row of spades and telling him to 'take his pick' haha. lol!
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Alquiel on Tue 27 Apr 2010, 11:49

Oh don't. When I was a kid my mother told me that infinity couldn't be imagined. Crafty woman. I spent a lonnnnng time trying it.
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  berylia on Wed 28 Apr 2010, 10:02

Here's a reasonably relevant and amusing picture that has done the rounds in my company's email today - made me chuckle ;o)



I had a Maths lecturer at University who was obsessed with the theory/ myth that Pi may be a rational number - he was a nutcase but very amusing in the pub ;o)
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Rem on Wed 28 Apr 2010, 10:34

Oh, that's fantastic, love it Smile

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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Colt on Fri 30 Apr 2010, 09:57

Wow monsters revealed.
Episode 1 – The Naga.


Naga is word with a number of meanings
Firstly it is an Hindi word for the hooded cobra, but often used for any snake. Naja is in fact the latin name for the genus of cobra’s who can flatten their necks to produce the hood and comes from the same root
Secondly it also refers to a group of deities in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, all being part serpent, or being able to shape change into snakes or part snakes.
Clearly it is from these ideas that WoW produced our serpent like semi-aquatic friends.

However the name Naga also refers to 2 million people living in the far North East of India. Originally of a more northerly origin (their language(s) are Tibeto-Bumese), they live in a state called Nagaland. There are about 60 tribes, all with their own dialect. Historically they used a trading language called Nagamese to converse together, although the missionaries did their work efficiently and English has wriggled in there and became the official language in 1967. Bizarrely the missionaries did so well, that 75% of the population are active Baptists making Nagaland the only predominantly Baptist ethnic state in the world.

Wow wiki defines the Naga as “Highborne night elves who mutated into vengeful humanoid sea serpents”. It doesn’t mention their religion though.....
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Re: The Quite Interesting Thread

Post  Colt on Thu 26 Aug 2010, 10:06

WoW monsters revealed
Episode 2 - The Hydra


I am certain that most of us have at some point fought a hydra or two. These 3 headed reptilian creatures tend to be found in marshes and bogs, and anywhere particularly damp and detrimental to footware. They swim well and lumber on land, and a ghostly version is occasionally found following meekly behind Hunters who were taming weird creatures before 20th January 2009. (Before that significant date this Spirit of Atha could be persuaded to help out our ranged companions as the result of a mental aberration in which he thought he was a crocolisk.)

The hydra, portrayed as a many headed, often wingless, dragon-type is common to us now, not only from MMO’s but from the years of influence from D&D, and similar P&P RPGs. But where did it come from originally?

In Greek Myth the Lernaean Hydra was the offspring of Typhon,
“His human upper half reached as high as the stars. His hands reached east and west and had a hundred dragon heads on each. His bottom half was gigantic viper coils that could reach the top of his head when stretched out and made a hissing noise. His whole body was covered in wings, and fire flashed from his eyes.” (Bibliotheca, Pseudo-Apollodorus)

and Echidna.
“the goddess fierce Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake,great and awful, with speckled skin, eating raw flesh beneath the secret parts of the holy earth.” (Theogony, Hesiod)

So, considering that, she did ok just having a few extra heads. As with the Lernaean fellow, WoW hydra often have poison attacks, and live near or in water.

You will, I am sure, know the story of the Hydra’s death. As each head was cut, two would grow to replace it. Eventually Heracles defeated it by searing each stump when the head was removed. One head only as immortal, and this he hid beneath a great rock, using it as a handy poison dispenser. Fortunately the poison from a WoW Hydra is not quite as devastating as its Greek mythological counterpart:
"This monster was so poisonous that she killed men with her breath, and if anyone passed by when
she was sleeping, he breathed her tracks and died in the greatest torment." (Hygnius)

...and we don’t have to do the head thing.

However, there is another creature called a Hydra that you may not be aware of. The hydra are a whole genus of tiny, tentacled, tree like, or perhaps hydra like, predators found abundantly in fresh water. The hydra was officially discovered by science in 1740, and was first described by the Dutch inventor of the microscope, van Leeuwenhoek. It was named Hydra because of its ability to regenerate, but I wonder if when he named it he really knew how close to the Lernaean original he got:

-The hydra lives in water.
-The shape of a hydra is very akin to its mythological counterpart, having a main body, and an array of up to 12 tentacles at one end.
-Each tentacle has the capacity to inject neurotoxin poison into its prey.
-It has an unprecedented ability to regenerate, not only tentacles, but its whole body; indeed, a hydra can be pushed through a mesh to split it into individual cells, and yet it can put itself back together again.
-In addition it can replicate asexually by producing a new head which grows into a clone of the original.
-Lastly, and most amazing of all, like the Lernaean Hydra’s last head, the members of the genus hydra are potentially immortal. A four year experiment into aging has shown that there is no cellular senescence in hydra. It can regenerate and it doesn’t age.
Some guys have all the luck.
Maybe it should have been called Wolverine......
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