In 1633, Galileo was found "vehemently suspect" of heresy. His heretical opinion: holding and defending the belief that the Copernican, heliocentric model of the solar system was true in contravention to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo was placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life and forced to recant, verbally and in writing, any belief in the Copernican model. His book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was…


Hello, my name is Ben, and I am a genre snob. Or at least I was. I'm trying to quit, but as fellow genre snobs can attest, it is not easy to surrender culturallyinculcated notions of genre and embrace a more nuanced approach. Still, I need to try. For the children!
This week I read Amanda Scott's Tempted by a Warrior, which I won in a Goodreads giveaway. Had I paid more attention when…

CUMC 2010, Days 3 and 4
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It is Saturday, but it doesn't feel like Saturday, mostly because I'm . . . at school. This is the last day of the CUMC. I'm in the last talk of the day, having chosen to attend "Perfect Matchings and Shuffling." Afterward, there is the final keynote, which Ram Murty will deliver on the Riemann hypothesis.
Yesterday I went to a talk on fractal image compression. The talk itself was not stellar, but…

CUMC 2010, Day 2
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It is Thursday, July 8.
After the first talk this morningon set theory, particularly ZFCI spent time caressing the lovely wireless network by way of uploading some photos to Flickr. When attempting to geotag them, however, I ran into the slight problem, in that typing "University of Waterloo" into the Flickr map's location finder produced no results.
So, Yahoo!, in case you are wondering why people drool over Google and its products, here…

CUMC 2010, Day 1
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It is Wednesday, July 7. The CUMC talks began today.
I went to four talks today. Rather than summarize them allI enjoyed them allI'll mention some highlights. The first talk of the afternoon was both my least favourite and most favourite talk. Entitled "The Ontology of Mathematics: Do Numbers Exist?," the presenter read from dense slides, which did not make for the most riveting experience. There was some lively discussion among the audience, however, and…

Combinatorics and Optimization, Day 2
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It is Tuesday, July 6.
Today's four talks began with electrical networks and random walks. That is, suppose you have a graph that describes a network through which electricity flows. Starting at a vertex x, what is the probability that, when walking at random along the graph, we will arrive at a vertex s instead of a vertex t? This talk was very easy to follow (for which I am thankful), even though…

Combinatorics and Optimization, Day 1
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I wrote this last night at my grandparents' house, which has no Internet connection I can feasibly use (dialup does not count), so I had to wait until today to post it from the University of Waterloo campus. All references to "today" refer to Monday, July 5.
This week, Rachael, Aaron, and I have travelled to Waterloo, Ontario for two math conferences. The first is the Combinatorics & Optimization Summer School, a twoday event…

No sugar tonight
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Last week, I discussed how maths is hard, but I spent plenty of time solving a Rubik's cube anyway. At this rate, you are going to get the idea that I don't do any work at all. Nevertheless, a desire for accuracy and lulz requires me to remain truthful regarding how I spent this week in the office.
We made a piñata.
We named him Stanley the Resurrection Pig.
I don't recall who came…