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Pluses & Minuses

More on this image later…

Minus first.

We have discovered a new grotesquery in the language. Sadly enough it is from the New York Times:

Mrs. Clinton appears to have clammed up for now, taking no questions on the trail while both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Obama are holding several media availabilities.


How is being available to the media a thing, a phenomenon? What, we wonder, might be wrong with “press conference”, or “press briefing”, or even “doorstop”? Anyway, it’s ugly and an abomination and the person who invented it ought to be ashamed, first, and then sent to a re-education camp.

And now the pluses:

BBC Radio 4 podcasts. The one we discovered first was “Current Puns“, a program with Stephen Fry on punning, with particular reference to those terrible jokes in Christmas crackers.

The next was a current Melvyn Bragg series, In Our Time. “The history of ideas…including Philosophy, science, literature, religion and the influence these ideas have on us today. ”

The episode of In Our Time which caught our particular attention was one on the Fibonacci sequence. We have written about this a while ago and are gratified that our fascination with the Fibonacci sequence and its uncanny relationship with the Golden Ratio (or Mean, or Section, if you like) has been shared since mediaeval times.

Here’s the bombshell that we didn’t realise: The Fibonacci sequence goes 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34…It is created by adding the previous two numbers to create a third [1+1=2, 2+1=3, 3+2=5 etc.]. But there is another sequence called the Lucas Numbers: 2,1,3,4,7,11,18 etc. [Edouard Lucas is credited with naming the Fibonacci sequence and introducing his work to a wider public.] In fact, starting with any two numbers you can produce any number of strings. The startling thing we found about the Fibonacci sequence is that after only a few operations when you divide the second number in any contiguous pair by the first the ratio between them gets closer and closer to the golden ratio Phi (Φ) of 1.618033…

A graph shows how quickly this happens.


But the bombshell is, it doesn’t matter what two numbers begin the sequence. After only a few operations in any such number sequence the ratio always approaches the golden ratio.

So that was news to us.

And now about the image at the top. We found a storehouse of brilliant images from Kubrick’s film of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey. They’re at It has a whole lot of other information about the movie, as well as .wav sounds. well worth a look.



[tags]fibonacci, maths, mathematics, lucas, edouard lucas, leonardo da pisa, bragg, melvyn bragg, bbc, radio 4, in our time, ideas, history of ideas, golden ratio, golden mean, golden section, Phi, puns, stephen fry, language, clinton, hillary clinton, media, new york times, arthur c clarke, kubrick, hal, dave, 2001, wav sounds[/tags]

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