Monthly Archives: February 2016

No such thing as a large bugless program.

Complex systems are those where behavior is unpredictable. Computer programs which have over 100,000 lines of code are examples of a complex system which exhibit unpredictable behavior (bugs) which are inherent due to the size of the program.

(The Great Courses – Science in the Twentieth Century: A Social-Intellectual Survey)

I see employment opportunities for left handed men

After the Normans invaded England in 1066 they built keeps in the towns around the country. Spiral staircases were built to access the different floors. These tight staircases were built in a clockwise direction so that it would be difficult for swordsmen to use their swords as they fought their way up the staircase.

(The Great Courses – The Other Side of History: Daily Life In the Ancient World)

Downfall of the Western half of the Roman Empire

The first sack of Rome was in 410 by Alaric of the Goths. However, Alaric had not invaded the Roman empire with the intention of sacking Rome. He was a Christian who entered the Roman empire looking for a place to settle his people inside the Roman empire. After Alaric crossed into the Roman empire it appears that he made some deals with the Roman general Stilicho who used the Goth army for his own advantages against outside forces. When Stilicho was deposed due to Roman politics Alaric found that he had no friends among the emperor or elite Roman Senators. After negotiations for compensation for the work he had down failed Alaric then took his compensation in the sacking of Rome.

(Byzantium: The Early Centuries – John Julius Norwich)

Tidbits from a commission

When President Lyndon Johnson created the Warren commission to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy he gave it two goals. One was to clear Johnson of any involvement and one was to clear the Russians of any involvement (and thus prevent any potential war). The Warren commission was able to declare both of those goals in their final report. Along the way were many interesting occurrences. The FBI turned out to be uncooperative due to J Edgar Hoover worried about things being disclosed about them. One occurrence was that an FBI agent tore out a page from the diary of Oswald because it mentioned him and the FBI did not want anyone to know that they knew about Oswald. The CIA (under Robert Kennedy) was also uncooperative because they did not want to disclose their plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. There were several people on the commission who did not get along with Earl Warren so it was not always easy to get consensus. There were also early leaks about the report which more than a little annoyed Warren. One of the leaks came from a member of the commission named Gerald Ford who was paid $1 million for an article that appeared in ‘Vanity Fair’. When the final report was published and many questions about a ‘cover up’ were circulating Warren once quipped ‘What possible set of circumstances could get Jerry Ford and me to conspire on anything’.

(Book – Chief Justice: A Biography of Earl Warren – Ed Cray)

Top Books and Teaching Company Courses I read, listened to and viewed in 2015

BOOKS – Cicero: Anthony Everitt, White House Years: Henry Kissinger, Mayflower: Nathaniel Philbrick, The Second World War (6 volumes) : Winston Churchill (I finally finished the series in 2015) – TEACHING COMPANY COURSES – The Life and Death of Stars , Judaism , A Visual Guide to the Universe, A New History of Life, The Higgs Boson and Beyond.

These are in no particular order and are on the list because I either learned a lot on a subject that I did not know or they were just plain AWESOME!

1 + 1 + 1 = 4 in relativistic terms

For a long time everything was thought to be made up of protons, neutrons and elections. It was finally discovered that protons and neutrons are made up of more elementary particles called quarks. (electrons are still considered an elementary particle). It was noticed that adding up the weights of the individual quarks created a weight that was less than the weight of the protons and neutrons. One of the aspects of the Theory of Relativity is that the mass of an object gets larger as it approaches the speed of light. Quarks in a particle are moving so fast that their mass is actually larger when in a proton or neutron and that explains the mass difference.

(The Great Courses – Science in the Twentieth Century)