In "Zooming down into the mandelbrot set forever and ever"

If you like this, you'll love the XaoS real-time fractal zooming program. For Win/Mac/Linux.

In "Jesus never walked on water, he walked on ICE!"

Wow, I'm a science guy and I think Christianity was a myth created by Paul and some other people, yet I cringe when reading this story. How could Jesus walk out to a BOAT on the water on ice? Anyone up north who goes ice fishing can tell you, if you can go boating, you can't walk on the damn ice, and vice versa.

In "Robert Anton Wilson,"

Does anyone know if he's ever planning on releasing book four of the Historical Illuminatus series? I'd heard that he wrote it and decided not to publish because he felt it needed a major rewrite. It was supposed to have been called The world turned upside down but he went and used that title for something else.

In "A history "

StoryBored, if you study a little complex math, you could make the bet, "Gimme a number, any number! I'll find the solution where I can take one, and raise it to that power, and get your number!" Then again, in a bar, that's far less likely to get takers than, "I'll bet I can toss this dollar bill in the air and predict which side's up!"

I meant to comment on this earlier, but Lord Sludge, the link from the Masons you provided is just *so* full of it! It was a cool link, and thanks!, but they're so trying to deflect attention from the obvious. They claim that Venus couldn't have been the source of the pentagram because Venus isn't visible when it's in conjunction with the sun. Like they weren't smart enough to connect the dots. The ancients surely understood the concept of conjunction because they kept very careful records of solar and planetary movements, and it was obvious to them when planets moved close enough to the sun to be invisible. Heck, several ancient peoples detected the precession of the equinoxes, a cycle which takes over ten thousand years. Venus is the brightest "star" in the sky, and it moves very interestingly and very regularly. Anyone who paid attention to it would discover a pentagram. The pentagram is the first interlocked "star" figure which geometry offers, and is doubly interesting. Not surprising that it became significant.

techsmith asked: "i^i has an infinite number of real solutions I'm confused... isn't i exactly one number, sqrt(-1) (let's disregard +/- for now)? Why would i^i have solutions?" It is really weird and counterintuitive, but, yes, when you raise numbers to complex powers, you get an entire series of results. Complex numbers behave in ways that ordinary real numbers could never imagine. Which is one of the reasons that people find them so darn useful. The too-simple answer is that complex powers are defined by complex powers of the number e, which are also used to define sine and cosine functions, so complex powers end up being both periodic and exponential. i^i bounces back and forth between positive and negative, and gets large very quickly. Other complex powers spiral outward in an exponential spiral that gets huge quite quickly. For a more complete answer, here are some links: Here's Dr. Math's take on the topic. Wikipedia's info MathWorld another another Hope this helps, and sorry for the off-topic, but I can't resist a math question.

Re: the Phi/666 connection. That's pretty neat and the first i heard of it, thanks for mentioning. This is an artifact of using the 360-degrees-in-a- circle system right? Yep. It's much less fun using grads or radians. Then again, there are some tin-foil-hat theories about "secret knowledge" the "ancients" had and just why the 360 degree circle came down to us from the Babylonians. StoryBored, actually, i^i has an infinite number of real solutions, but yours is the smallest. When you do complex exponents, you can think of the solutions lying on a spiral going out to infinity. i^i is unusual in that all of them lie on the real number line. gonzo, I think you're going in the wrong direction. If pi is the ratio of the diameter of the circle to the circumference, then the diameter fits around the circle 3.14+ times. If we redefine it to use the radius, then it would fit around the circle 6.28+ times, or 2pi. 2pi occurs all over the place when you calculate using radians, since 2pi radians is a whole circle. Anything involving rotation, waves, electronics, phase, and so on. The factor of two is because in modern thinking it makes sense to define circular things in terms of the radius, but we're still using a pi based upon the ancient Greek thinking based on diameters. Let me know if this still isn't clear.

So, Alnedra, what was this conversation about? I'm a math bachelors and while I'm certainly not worthy to clean the shoes of a doctorate, have some guesses that "vector pi" is either a 180 flip, or is just some random vector with label Greek letter pi. Just in case their vector math wasn't confusing enough... just like Crunchy Frog said. Unless it's something special and is some sort of shibboleth in whatever discipline you were talking about. StoryBored, my favorite version of that equation is: e^(pi*i) + 1 = 0, as it includes five of the most fundamental numbers in mathematics all relating to each other: e, pi, i, 1, and 0. Another fun one involves the number of the beast and the golden mean, phi: phi = -2 sin (666) ... which is vaguely mystical until you figure out that 666 degrees ends up being the bottom foot of a pentagram centered on the origin, and phi is always involved with pentagrams. And then pentagrams are mystical until you figure out that Venus, the brightest star/planet, traces out a pentagram in the sky every eight years since the earth and it are in resonance orbits. And ancient folks surely noticed this, since they noticed the 19 year solar/lunar resonance. And this all may get mystical until you study orbital dynamics and notice that orbiting things really like to form resonances... Then there's that guy who thinks we really should be using 2pi instead of pi, since pi is based on the diameter, and it should more logically be based on the radius. Which is why 2pi shows up everywhere instead of just pi... /mathgeek

In "Witchfinders"

"Jews, Cathars, witches, homosexuals. Geeze, is there anyone God doesn't hate?" Himself. Although, on reflection, that may in fact be innaccurate and the very root of his fucking problem. Well, I think you can make a case from sending His Son to get tortured to death, which He knew about since He sent visions to the prophets about it. And, standard doctrine states that the Father and the Son are one, so it sounds like a very complicated method of suicide on His part. So, yeah, perhaps He does hate Himself...

Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt is a well-researched essay on the subject of witch trials.

In "Curious George: Uses for a very old laptop"

You could turn it into a digital picture frame.

Keep your eyes open for used but still functioning larger-capacity hard drives. Laptops with broken screens, spill or drop damaged, etc. I've got an old laptop that I primarily use for writing and text editing. Sometimes it's nice not to have all the modern distracting bells and whistles.

In "Curious, George: Digitizing my vinyl music"

Thank you everyone for your suggestions so far! FYI, I'm primarily doing this so I'll have the music available on my computer since the stereo is in another room. Also, they'll be available for making MP3 mixes for CDs. I'm not terribly concerned about hiss/pop, as this doesn't really bother me on the vinyl. Then again, I've heard that for some strange reason the noise is more bothersome after it's digitized, so I guess we'll see. None of this music is terribly rare, but there is a lot of stuff I don't feel like paying for again.

In "Lincoln: Hypocrite or Statesman?"

Saw this article on linkfilter last week which is quite related. Haven't read the poster's article all the way through yet, but the more I learn about Lincoln, from many sources, the less I admire him. He's certainly had a fantastic press corps working for him all these years!

In "I Am Curious; Bubble."

There's a Vietnamese place down the street that features this stuff, but I've never tried it. What's the rush for you?

In "We have pissed in our beds."

I'll always remember the best insult we could cobble up with the Latin I dictionary in our text... Tuus mater caligae gerat! "Your mamma wears combat boots!" Good times...

In "Curious George;"

I wear mine proudly, though not necessarily at all times. I don't mind upsetting people in conservative workplace like settings, but I'm not fond of the endless parade of drooling men. Drooling ladies? Yeah, I'm down with that! But the men are just piggish nuisances. Besides being welcome by you, how is the "male gaze" different from a lesbian gaze? Seriously curious, not trolling. Yes, most men are pigs, I admit this, but I've been girlwatching with dyke friends, and they can be awful, um, blunt, in ways which I even found uncomfortable. Why have nipples become such a big deal lately? Is this still just the backlash happening?

I recommend getting over it. While I am a straight male who can find it sexy, sometimes I just notice, and sometimes not even that. It really depends upon whether I find the woman sexy first. If so, her elbows will probably get me worked up... I have noticed a lot of what I've taken to calling "nippliphobia" in popular culture lately. Can't find the ref, but I just heard about the show Desperate Housewives having to do digital blurring on their actresses because people were complaining whenever a stray nipple was visible through clothing. No one seemed to care back in the days of One Day At a Time or Three's Company, or at least care enough to get the studios to do something. I can't remember the last time I saw a catalog or underwear ad where any nipple or areolae were visible, and as an adolescent I used to notice such things frequently. I pointed this out to my wife and she said that recently people have beome a lot more sensitive to this, enough so that merchants will go way out of their way to make sure that nothing is visible! Anyway, if you do decide to not worry about it, I predict that you'll get some appreciative stares, some disapproving glares, and mostly indifference. Sounds like a decent asshole filter, to tell the truth.

In "Fractals."

Unless I'm mistaken, "quat" actually produces 3-d slices of four dimensional fractals. I believe the "quat" is short for "quaternion" which is kinda like a 4-d version of the complex numbers. I remember reading about 4-d Mandelbrot and Julia sets which use quaternions in the 80s, with some spiffy pictures in an issue of Byte magazine. I'm downloadning now, and I'll let you know what I find!

In "Sea of Plastic."

NPR a couple of days ago had an interesting story about searching for abandoned drift nets and finding them in these areas of the ocean. No transcript, but you can listen.

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