Monthly Archives: May 2011

What is the most efficient way to boil water?

Today, an experimental post. I was wondering what is the most efficient way to boil water, using a kettle or boiling on the gas hob? In order to determine this, I decided to knuckle down and experiment (for those of … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Cheerios effect

Have you ever wondered why the bubbles on top of your pint tend to “stick” to the side of the glass? The answer has been found by my colleague at OCCAM (Dominic Vella): it’s because of the “Cheerios effect”. The … Continue reading

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Sun Dogs – what would they look like on Mars?

I was in Dorset last weekend when I saw a beautiful sundog (I took the picture on my phone – so apologies for the bad quality!) : The sun dog (also known as a parhelion) is evidenced by a thin … Continue reading

Posted in geometry, physics | 2 Comments

Optimal keyboards by Monte Carlo minimisation

Chatting in the cafeteria the other day someone mentioned that QWERTY keyboards where designed so that letters that appear next to each other often in English do not appear next to each other on a typewriter. This minimizes the possibility … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Rules for the perfect birthrate

Matthen2 posted this problem on twitter and I thought it was interesting. If families all have children until they have exactly one daughter, on average how many children of either sex will they have? In this post I play with … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Bad ways of evaluating Ackermann’s function

Ackermann’s function is a very rapidly growing function defined as follows: There are articles on the web about clever ways of evaluating Ackermann’s function, but I was interested in investigating the most stupid possible way of doing it. After a … Continue reading

Posted in programming | 4 Comments

Thinking outside the ball and outside the box?

I read this puzzle recently on a book that suggested ways to improve lateral thinking. Simply stated the challenge is: draw four dots in a square on a piece of paper. Is it possible to connect the four points with … Continue reading

Posted in geometry, maths | 2 Comments