Monday too

1. RIP Ric Ocasek:

2. Without so much as a by-your-leave:

Two years ago, 123-Reg and NamesCo decided to register millions of .uk domains for customers without asking them. They just got the auto-renewal bills…

… And they’re not happy.

3. Now beyond the pale:

4. Neal Stephenson wrote a trilogy about the history of the Enlightenment and the dawning of scientific discoveries and such, in the course of which a couple of the characters were stranded in India in the latish 1700s, after being set upon by pirates on the Malabar coast.

In one particular scene, one of the characters is describing how he was following two other compatriots from the crew of their ship along a rural road when they were stopped at a roadblock manned by soldiers of the local sultan who spoke to them, and then gesticulated at a target set up on the side of the road and handed then a rifle apiece.

‘Ah’ says the second character, ‘they administered an IQ test’

‘Yes’, says the first, ‘and they both fired and hit the target, thus failing the IQ test, as they were immediately inducted into the Sultan’s army’

5. Similar theme:

“He walked straight out of college into the waiting arms of the Navy.

They gave him an intelligence test. The first question on the math part had to do with boats on a river: Port Smith is 100 miles upstream of Port Jones. The river flows at 5 miles per hour. The boat goes through water at 10 miles per hour. How long does it take to go from Port Smith to Port Jones? How long to come back?

Lawrence immediately saw that it was a trick question. You would have to be some kind of idiot to make the facile assumption that the current would add or subtract 5 miles per hour to or from the speed of the boat. Clearly, 5 miles per hour was nothing more than the average speed. The current would be faster in the middle of the river and slower at the banks. More complicated variations could be expected at bends in the river.

Basically it was a question of hydrodynamics, which could be tackled using certain well-known systems of differential equations. Lawrence dove into the problem, rapidly (or so he thought) covering both sides of ten sheets of paper with calculations. Along the way, he realized that one of his assumptions, in combination with the simplified Navier Stokes equations, had led him into an exploration of a particularly interesting family of partial differential equations. Before he knew it, he had proved a new theorem. If that didn’t prove his intelligence, what would?

Then the time bell rang and the papers were collected. Lawrence managed to hang onto his scratch paper. He took it back to his dorm, typed it up, and mailed it to one of the more approachable math professors at Princeton, who promptly arranged for it to be published in a Parisian mathematics journal.

Lawrence received two free, freshly printed copies of the journal a few months later, in San Diego, California, during mail call on board a large ship called the U.S.S. Nevada. The ship had a band, and the Navy had given Lawrence the job of playing the glockenspiel in it, because their testing procedures had proven that he was not intelligent enough to do anything else.”

6. Darwin at work again:

7. Across the pond:

[H/T Chuckles and haiku]

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