Daily Archives: 11/27/2005


Prime number spiralI still haven’t seen that tv show with the mathematician solving crimes, Numb3rs. Anybody seen it? What night is it on? Now that I can actually see network television again, I’d like to check it out. Anything with that Rob Morrow in it has to be good. Oh no wait, that’s Bob Wagner (sorry inside joke with myself).

In the meantime, take a look at the abstract beauty and underlying symmetry that is laid bare at NumberSpiral.com. The curves visualized here are just the first 49,000 prime numbers. Notice how they tend to fall along certain curves emanating from the center? Intriguing. Check out the whole site.

Crochet Lorenz ManifoldAnd while we’re looking at these pleasing renditions of numbers, let’s also check out this Lorenz manifold crocheted together by mathematicians. The 25,511 stitch creation is a representation of chaotic systems, such as flowing water or the weather. Dr. Hinke Osinga explains, “Imagine a leaf floating in a turbulent river and consider how it passes either to the left or to the right around a rock somewhere downstream. Those special leaves that end up clinging to the rock must have followed a very unique path in the water. Each stitch in the crochet pattern represents a single point (a leaf) that ends up at the rock.”

Both these links come from information aesthetics, a very interesting weblog I highly recommend.

It’s a Gas Gas Gas

Le Petomane
Boy, a little surfing based on my Toulouse Latrec post yesterday led me down paths unexpected, and turned up this wondrous poster, along with some associated stories on Le Petomane, Joseph Pujol. He was an extremely popular act at the Moulin Rouge during the fin de siecle, enjoying a flatulent career up until 1914. He played music, smoked cigarettes and did imitations, all with his ass. How he was able to sustain his act for 25+ years is beyond me, but it must have been a hell of show.

She Blinded Me With Science

I’ve got a couple cool science links this morning.

  • Darwin – The website for the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. While you’re there, be sure to check out Voices from South of the Clouds, that photo exhibit I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Oh and if you have Tiger installed, check out the AMNH anthro widget, which displays a different item from the anthropology collection every day.
  • Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA – Writing about Darwin makes me think of evolution’s great also-ran, Alfred Wallace. Wallace also deduced the idea of evolution via natural selection, on a similar voyage of discovery through an island chain, but he made the mistake of sending his findings to Darwin, who panicked and hastily published his own long delayed treatise, On the Origin of Species, when he realized somebody else might trump his discovery. What’s this got to do with the 20th century’s greatest chemist, Linus Pauling? Well, Pauling came tantalizingly close to deducing the structure and function of DNA in 1953, losing out to Watson and Crick when he focused on nuclear proteins instead of nucleic acids. He came so close, and might have made the connection if he had seen Rosalind Franklin’s x-ray crystallography of DNA at a conference in England in 1952. However the US State Department, caught up in the red scare of McCarthyism, withheld his passport because of his leftist politics and he could not attend.