Wednesday, 29 August 2012


I have adopted a new blogging schedule. I now blog on the 5th, 11th, 17th, 23rd and 29th days of the month. This marks the end of the first month after its adoption. I previously tended to use a system based on primes - although I also included the number 27. (I just like the number 27 for various reasons - not least it being my birth date.) The numbers I have now adopted are all primes - the Sexy Primes (see the video below). I think that this makes blogging days slightly more evenly spaced throughout the month (although I have not bothered to check) a quick glance shows that only when months have 30 days is the evenness perfect. A second glance seems to suggest that each week the blogging day is one day earlier than the week before. Obvious really because this is based on a six day cycle. However, there is differential month length to consider. So, I shall have to return to this.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

National Anthems

Every time an athlete wins a gold medal at the Olympic Games, the national anthem of their country is played. Those you win silver and bronze are not afforded this honour, although their national flag is raised flanking that of the winner. Although the gold medallist may sing along - or try to if they are in tears - it is only the tune that is played. We tend to overlook the fact that national anthems usually have words.

I was wondering about the words of the North Korean national anthem. Given that country's reputation for what looks to the West as mind-control, one might have expected the words of their national anthem to extol the almost god-like qualities of their leader. Not so. Along with the words of the national anthems of other countries that I have been reading, the North Korean national anthem is about the land and the people. It is an understandably patriotic song.

Surprisingly (perhaps) the most 'North Korean' national anthem (in the 'focusing-on-the-leader' sense) appears to be the British national anthem. It does not extol the land, the people or anything about the nation as such. Instead, it is a prayer asking for blessings on the monarch. The only rather oblique and dubious reference to the people of Britain comes in the line were the prayer asks that the monarch be allowed 'long to reign over us'.

Interestingly, after all the effort the British athletes put into getting to and competing at the London 2012 Olympics Games and after all the emotion the crowd and viewers expended as they watched these athletes take part, each time they won they played a tune and sang a song seeking blessings on their monarch rather than on themselves as a nation.

(Furthermore, being British is more complex thing than most British people - or people that think that they are British - actually realise. There is, in fact, a difference between being a British citizenship and British subject.)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Father and Son - 2

In July 2010 showed an image of a sculpture I saw in Tartu, Estonia in August 2008. I also said that I was well acquainted with scientific diagrams which scale infants and adults to the same height (in order to demonstrate how body proportions change with age). This is a less frequently found image. It again scales adult and child to the same height but this time internal structure are also seen. Note how they are not in the same proportions.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

How big is Wikipedia?

The thing I would most miss if it ceased to be a presence on the internet is Wikipedia (not a link to Wikipedia's front page).  I typically consult it several times a day on all sorts of topics, serious and trivial. When I was a boy, the biggest printed books were sets of encyclopedias. They came in several volumes with the topics arranged alphabetically. So quite diverse topics could be found next to each other. I seem to remember that we had two different sets of encyclopedias at my primary school. Strangely, they were rarely consulted. They were not in the school library – we did not have one. Neither were they in a classroom. One might have expected one set in each of the top two classes for the older children to consult, perhaps but no. Rather they were on display on a purpose-built stand at each end of the junior school corridor.
I first came across Wikipedia in 2005 when I was working in Austria. It started in 2001 and somehow I had missed it for it's first four years. I cannot remember how I discovered it. It may have been through an American colleague. I have never heard anybody ask how big it is though. I have read about iPhone apps that can download an entire copy for offline use, so one could say that Wikipedia is as big as an iPhone – or as small as an iPod. More seriously though, what would it be like if it were printed and bound in hardback volumes like those of my youth?

Fortunately, some people – clearly out of range of my hearing – have asked the same question and have made some estimations. Fittingly, there are even Wikipedia pages on the subject.

The current diagram of the 1695 volumes in 9 stacks can be found at: Wikipedia – Size in volumes.

The image is not downloadable but here is a screen clipping from the page, much reduced in size.

There are, of course, a number of assumptions and caveats, so please see:
Wikipedia – Size Comparisons

Importantly, Wikipedia does not delete old versions of a page. So, there is much more to it than is immediately accessible. The diagram for the 7129 volumes in 36 stacks can be found at: Size of all Wikipedia versions. Be sure to scroll all the way to the right.

NB It is interesting, how they are filling the shelves from the bottom to the top in this figure.

I came across the following at digital inspiration on the page entitled 'Wikipedia as a Printed Book – Seriously!' This is a 5000 page book which was taken in turn from the person who produced it: Rob Matthews.
Sally 6/5/9 117 Sally 6/5/9 126
Matthews does not really give much description. It appears to be a collection of featured articles rather than the whole of Wikipedia. It is very interesting nonetheless.

Another question - one that is impossible to answer in that it is not reasonable to ask it - is when will Wikipedia be full? Computer storage can be increased indefinitely and there will always be something new to add. However, the rate of new article additions seems to be slowing. Is there an asymptote for the number of (sensible) articles that can be written?

Monday, 6 August 2012

Not a Barcode

This is not a barcode but it is inspired by the idea I have been adopting: that of turning the name 'Marginalia55' into some other form. (What I am now referring to as a 'Manipulation55' in the blog labels.)  Here is the name of this blog as an equation.
It was generated at Sam Alexander's Inverse Graphing Calculator page.