I posted a while back about the wonders of Fourier Curves, and I’ve posted many times about Euler’s Formula and other graphical wonders of the complex plane. Recently, a Numberphile video introduced me to another graphical wonder: Euler Spirals. They’re one of those very simple ideas that results in almost infinite variety (because of chaos).
As it turned out, the video (videos, actually) led to a number of fun diversions that have kept me occupied recently. (Numberphile has inspired more than a few projects over the years. Cool ideas I just had to try for myself.)
This all has to do with virtual turtles.
Last February I posted about how my friend Tina, who writes the Diotima’s Ladder blog, asked for some help with a set of diagrams for her novel. The intent was to illustrate an aspect of Plato’s Divided Line — an analogy about knowledge from his worldwide hit, the Republic. Specifically, to demonstrate that the middle two (of four) segments always have equal lengths.
The diagrams I ended up with outlined a process that works, but I was never entirely happy with the last steps. They depended on using a compass to repeat a length as well as on two points lining up — concrete requirements that depend on drawing accuracy.
Last week I had a lightbulb moment and realized I didn’t need them. Lurking right in front of my eyes is a solid proof that’s simple, clear, and fully abstract.
Recently my friend Tina, who writes the blog Diotima’s Ladder, asked me if I could help her with a diagram for her novel. (Apparently all the math posts I’ve written gave her ideas about my math and geometry skills!)
What she was looking for involved Plato’s Divided Line, an analogy from his runaway bestseller, the Republic (see her post Plato’s Divided Line and Cave Allegory for an explanation; I’m not going to go into it much here). The goal is a geometric diagram proving that the middle two segments (of four) must be equal in length.
This post explores and explains what I came up with.
I’ve always had a strong curiosity about how things work. My dad used to despair how I’d take things apart but rarely put them back together. My interest was inside — in understanding the mechanism. (The irony is that I began my corporate career arc as a hardware repair technician.)
My curiosity includes a love of discovery, especially unexpected ones, and extra especially ones I stumble on myself. It’s one thing to be taught a neat new thing, but a rare delight to figure it out for oneself. It’s like hitting a home run (or at least a base-clearing double).
Recently, I was delighted to discover something amazing about spheres.
Wow. April First, but it’s no joke how much — and how quickly — life changed. March 2020 changed the world. Now we’ll see if we survive it.
Spirits seem high around here. On my morning walk, in the park I saw that someone had used colored chalk to write good thoughts on the asphalt path: “Stay Positive!” “Nature!” “Yay! Vit. D.” “Family Time” “Exercise!” (Maybe others will join in. I think I have some colored chalk…)
It’s hard to top the real life wows, but I do have a few interesting items that might at least offer something of a distraction.
I’ve been hinting all month about rotation, and the time has finally come to dig into the topic. As mentioned, my interest began with wanting to understand what it means to rotate a tesseract — particularly what’s really going on in a common animation that I’ve seen. What’s the math there?
This interest in rotation is part of a larger interest: trying to wrap my head around the idea of a fourth physical dimension. (Time is sometimes called the fourth dimension, but not here.) To make it as easy as possible, for now I’m focusing only on tesseractae, because “squares” are an easy shape.
After chewing at this for a while (the tesseract post was late 2016), just recently new doors opened up, and I think this journey is almost over!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time wondering what is the deal with tesseracts? Just exactly what the heck is a “four-dimension cube” anyway? No doubt you’ve stared curiously at one of those 2D images (like the one here) that fakes a 3D image of an attempt to render a 4D tesseract.
Recently I spent a bunch of wetware CPU cycles, and made lots of diagrams, trying to wrap my mind around the idea of a tesseract. I think I made some progress. It was an interesting diversion, and at least I think I understand that image now!
FWIW, here’s a post about what I came up with…
This might seem like another math post… but it’s not! It’s a geometry post! And geometry is fun, beautiful and easy. After all, it’s just circles and lines and angles. Well, mostly. Like anything, if you really want to get into it, then things can get complex (math pun; sorry). But considering it was invented thousands of years ago, can it really be that much harder than, say, the latest smart phone?
Even the dreaded trigonometry is fairly simple once you grasp the basic idea that the angles of a triangle are directly related to the length of its sides. (Okay, admittedly, that’s a bit of a simplification. The (other two) angles of a right-angle triangle are directly related to the ratios of the length of its sides, but still.)
However, this isn’t about trig; this is about tau!
Random (inexpensive) pixels!
I’ve been listening to U2 all evening, so I’m energized, and you get a bonus post today.
The last two posts used a lot of words, so I need to let the word barrel fill up a bit before I use too many more.
(And as you know, work really taps into the barrel, so word conservation is really important. I recycle many of the words I use, and there’s that old trick of putting a brick in your mouth to cut down on word dumps.)
But pixels are really inexpensive these days, and they come in a wide variety of colors. I’ve arranged a bunch of them in some interesting patterns you might enjoy!