Sunday, October 28, 2012

Scientists on trial

Italy is a very difficult country to understand for foreigners. A recent trial of scientists has been compared  to the trial of Gallileo in 1633. The matter is not helped by inaccurate reporting.

Here are the headlines of two blogs by Italian scientists:

Piergiorgio Odifreddi in the Repubblica ( : Scienza o onniscienza?
Il tribunale dell’Aquila ha condannato a sei anni sette componenti della Commissione Grandi Rischi, rei di non aver previsto e annunciato il terremoto dell’Aquila.

Tommaso Dorigo in his blog 6 Years To Scientists Guilty Of Not Predicting Earthquakes.

Further,  the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued an open letter to Napolitano saying it was "unfair and naive" of local prosecutors to charge the scientists for failing "to alert the population of L'Aquila of an impending earthquake".

The problem with these quotes is that the scientists were not condemned for failing to predict an earthquake.

A much more accurate description of the affair is available in English in Nature at
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Sydney Category Seminar Abstracts 1986-1988

I have just put on my rudimentary archive page ( links to pdf files of the Sydney Category Seminar Abstracts of 1986, 1987 and 1988.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

String puzzles

Some puzzles from the thesis of Davide Maglia.

Puzzle 1. Here is a puzzle made of blocks of wood and strings:

The problem is to disentangle it (without cutting the strings!) so that it becomes:

Then re-entangle it to get the original configuration!

Puzzle 2. Do the same with

Maybe they were too easy. Try your luck with the next puzzles!

Puzzles 3 and 4 See if you can untangle the first two to obtain in each case the third:


Thursday, October 11, 2012

IC chip orientation

In a previous post I indicated how to sketch a picture of a monoidal graph (or multigraph). A monoidal graph consists of two sets Comp (the components) and Wire (the wires) and two functions dom, cod: Comp -> Wire* (where Wire* is the free monoid on the wires). If dom of a component has length n then the component has n (ordered) left-hand ports; if cod of a component has length m then the component has m right-hand (ordered) ports. The functions dom and cod say to which wire a port is attached.
This means that a component looks very like a traditional dual in-line chip.
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Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Age of Antimida

I have learnt many things from my friend Aurelio Carboni. Some occur in our joint papers, many are unrepeatable. One concept he introduced me to I would like to mention today. It is the notion of antimida (in English antiMidas, but it sounds much better in Italian).
An antimida is a person who instead of changing everything he touches to gold, manages always to take gold and reduce it to dross (not Aurelio's term). I assure you I have no-one in particular in mind, but I have found the concept useful.

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Monday, October 01, 2012

Verba volant, scripta manent

Where do the internet, the blogs, digital photographs, the cloud and internet archives fit in?