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On Sunday, September 9, our church held a balloon contest,
and Annabel also released a helium
filled balloon, just for fun. Today, they announced the result.
Seven cards had been returned. One was without name. One was
just from an address 2 Km away. But the funny thing was that
todays speaker had lived at the address for most of his youth.
It happened that the furthers away, was the balloon of Annabel.
It was found by a man living in Rocherath in the South of Belgium
near the German border, 209 Km away. Rocherath is a village in
a German language-speaking municipality. Rocherath at 650 meter is the
highest village in Belgium. Annabel got a book as her price.
This is the second time that she wins a balloon contest. The
first time was with a primary school she attended in Almelo.
This afternoon, I went to the school of
Andy to talk about his education plan. It is a very
detailed plan with many subdivisions. For each subdivision
it states the pervious goal, some observations, the new
goal, and a motivation. All the goals are taken from a master
plan. We also discussed how Andy want to keep an eye on everything
that is going on around him. Although the clearly stated, as
they did before, that Andy is not autistic, they did remark that
he had some autistic-like behaviours. At the end they said that
there is no child like Andy in the whole school. That means that
he is rather unique child.
It was quite late when Annabel and
I left for the university to play Go. For
this reasons I thought there was no need to bring a board and
stones. But when we arrived around nine, it appeared that there
was only one board, because the people who usually bring the
board and stones were absent. Shortly after we arrived, Daan
suggested that he would go home to catch a set. When he returned,
he invited me for a game. He had not played for some years and
used to be a 7 Kyu player. We decided to play without handicap.
In the middle of the game it looked like I had a stronger position.
But he managed to steal a substantial number of points by playing
sharp. At the end of the game, we both thought that we had lost,
but it turned out I had lost with eight and a half points (including
the komi). However, if you consider his former strength, than the
result is not bad for me. In the meantime, Annabel played two
games against Araldo. The first, on a 19x19 board with nine stones
ahead, she lost with about twenty points. The second, on a 13x13 board
with four stones ahead, she lost with only two points.
The Flight from the Enchanter
This morning, I finished reading the book
The Flight from the Enchanter by
I think I have to agree with the Times Literary Supplement review,
which ends with "yet few possibly will have any great feeling of
satisfaction when they put it down". I found the start of the story
very boring. The first real action only comes in about the middle
of the book. I also feel that the characters are like bouncing balls
in the sense that any real interaction never seems to endure long.
Often they seem to be abondend due to unexpected events taking place.
In a sense this gives me a very unsatisfactory feeling, like nothing
is really happening in the book.
I read on the website of a local newspaper that the police had found 176
kilo of illegal fireworks in a barn in the street where I live. That
means we are missing a nice fireworks display at new years day. Now
that I read this, I remembered hearing some fireworks go of in one
of the past days.
This evening, Annabel and I arrived
around half past eight at the university to play
Go. We found Taco waiting.
I asked him for a game and we decided on a nine stone handicap for
him. Not much later Rudi arrived. Right at the start I made a big
mistake and after a desperate attempt to save my stones, I lost
them. In the middle game it looked like it was rather balanced,
but Taco managed to eat away some points here and there, and I
lost with 24 points. In the meanwhile, Annabel had played one
game against Rudi on a 19x19 board, which she resigned. Then the
played three games of Hex. Then she also played a little against
me, while I was still playing against Taco. We finished the game.
On the way home she complained that she did not like playing
against Rudi because I sees through all her tricks. I told her
that in a sense she is much faster than me, but that she has to
learn to abandon to play tricks and learn to play on a higher
An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything
Today, I looked through the paper An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything by
A. Garrett Lisi.
Much of what is written in this paper goes far beyond my comprehension.
It has some nice figures with all kinds of symbols and colours. It would
not surprise me if this paper will become a corner stone in modern physics.
The theory is based on the algebra E8, which is the most complex of its kind.
Another interesting fact is that Garrett Lisi is surfer.
Later, I discovered that some websites depict this paper as
nonsense and say that Lisi is a crank.
An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything (Part 2)
I found a nice explaination on Slashdot bu
Daniel Barkalow. It reads:
(I am not a particle physicist or a mathematician of the right sort, but I
can kind of follow this sort of thing)
For more on this, see the
Okay, the context is that you've got particles, and they're fundamentally
all the same, but they're "turned" in different ways. Think of a ball with
3-color LEDs inside: you can rotate it around three axes, and move it in
three directions, and you can also cycle its color and change its blinking
pattern. Particles are like that, except that the topology is weird: it's
not back to the same orientation until you turn it around 720 degrees, instead
of 360 like normal objects. The "gauge group" is the rules for how you can
change things. For example, the total color of the universe is white: if you
turn something from red to blue, you have to turn something else from blue to
red; but you can also create a pair of a green and a purple (anti-green).
They write all these rules up in math, and it's tricky because a lot of the
features vary continuously (that is, you can rotate something an arbitrarily
small amount). And due to the interaction of the rules for one property with
the rules for other properties, there are only certain combinations of properties
that you can get. They work out all the combinations that you can have and
those are what you see as "different" particles that your experiments show.
Of course, we don't know what the rules are, and we're trying to figure that
out from what combinations of properties we've seen and which ones we're
speculating are impossible. And it's hard and takes a lot of calculation to
figure out what a candidate set of rules would even mean as far as results.
And people are looking at known results and trying to describe them better
than "we've done a billion things, and a billion things happened".
Now, the math of rules for how things can interact turns out to be sort of
limited; there are basically 4 normal cases, which are boring, and then there
are a few exceptional cases, which are interesting. Of these, the hardest to
prove stuff about is E8, and it's just now becoming clear what combinations
it allows. It's like one of those puzzles where you press a corner and lights
change, and you have to turn off all the lights, but it's got dozens of corners
and dozens of lights and every time you press a corner a bunch of things change
at once, and there are different kinds of corners and it also matters exactly
what angle you're holding it at, so there are hundreds of things you can say
about each move.
And the mathematicians working on E8 recently said, "well, you can get positions
like this and not like that", where "this" and "that" are big complicated lists.
And this physicist read that paper and said, "hey, those lists are familiar; I
made similar lists of particle interactions". So the proposal is that particles
work like E8 in what kind of rules they follow. And it's a really nice theory,
because E8 is essentially the most flexible set of rules you can have without
it falling apart into just anything being possible (and some rules or properties
just not mattering).
This afternoon, I finished reading (the Dutch translation of)
the book Sky burial
by Xinran Xue. When I
bought the book yesterday from De Slegt, I had
not thought I would finish it so soon. A found it a very facinating story and
very informative about life in inland Tibet. I wonder how many people in Tibet
still live in the manner as described in this book.
This evening, Annabel and I went
to the university to play Go. When we
arrived Taco was already there, and not much later, Rudi
arrived. After we waited for some time, Rudi suggested that
he would play simulatiously against Taco and me. I was given
nine stones ahead. Annabel was busy with doing her homework
for Frence. After she was done, she asked me to play against
her. So, I too ended up playing simulatiously. I played two
games against her in which I was given two stones ahead.
Both games she lost. About halfway the second game,
Martin Medema arrived. We
had not seen him for a long time, but the last time he had
made a promise to Annabel. (On January 5, 2005, he taught her Havannah.) He had a
present for Annabel with him, the book Genieten van het
Heelal (Enjoying the Universe) by
I lost with 32 points in my game against Rudi.
Today, Annabel and I went
into the city and we bought a new computer, a Q-Motion with XP, and a
new monitor from
Media Markt. After
I installed the computer, I noticed that the fan makes
a lot of noise, far more than any other computer we
have owned. I found this rather disappointing.
After having fixed a leak in our waterbed, I spend the
rest of the day installing the new computer, which I named
This computer replaces the place of lixia. Two days ago, we already
placed it on the kitchen table, after we moved lixia to
the low table in the living room. (The kitchen and the living room
are joined in our house.) This evening, Annabel
and I moved lixia to her room. Earlier this week, I
already laid a network cable to her room. I have concluded that
it is the case fan of johan that makes all the noise.
I think I am going to replace it myself, because if I have to
do it through Media Markt
it will at least take two weeks before. Anyway, I am also considering
to install the extra hard disk and the video-capturing card from
lixia because Annabel does not make use of these.
Chinese Wooden Puzzle
This evening, I wrote a small program to process an output
file produced by the program for finding solutions for the
Chinese Wooden Puzzle,
which I develop earlier this year.
I modified the program slightly, to find all solutions where
there are only two pieces of each kind within a 10 by 6
frame. The output file is about 15 Mbyte and contains
239433 solutions. It contains 141906 unique solutions. The
small program I wrote was to normalize all solutions with
respect to the two symmetric axes. I had expected that it
would find four (or a multiple of four) equivalent solutions
for each unique solution. But to my surprise, for many
unique solution, there was just one. It found 64486 unique
solutions. The question now is, where is the error?
This months interesting links
| October 2007
| December 2007
| Random memories