The Code on Netflix

Here in a 3 part series, mathematics is examined to find out the underlying rules of the universe. Famed mathematician Marcus du Sautoy looks into the Golden ratio, Pi and other notable numbers to find out how they define and rule our lives without us even realising. This is pure mathematics for those geeks out there that have a need to understand the workings of the universe. There is no theory here.

Episode 1 is all about those iconic numbers that we learn about at school to help us work out angles, and all those other things required in mathematics.

Episode 2 looks at how nature utilises this knowledge to build honeycomb structures like the Giants Causeway in Ireland or a bee’s nest.

Episode 3 looks at how chaos theory turns things that look completely random like the life cycle of a lemming into something that can be understood in a logical way. It also covers probability theory by trying to predict who is going to win in a rock, paper, scissors contest.

Although this may sound dull especially in comparison to someone like Brian Cox we need different kinds of people for different jobs.

Best wishes

Angela

For the love of mathematics

My first love in life was maths. I was astonishly good at it. I had the kind of brain that just knew the answer to problems without even realising it. I was very much like Daniel Tamnet. He struggled enormously with his talent and the fact he wasn’t like anyone else. He also couldn’t connect with others. It was only later in life that he learnt that he was capable of more than just maths. He also is a celebrated linguist and has a phenomenal ability to explain how he does this seemingly unearthly talents.

While I no longer have such mathematical talents I am still very much interested in maths and physics problems. I’m just reduced to reading about others accomplishments as you will learn in the book, maths is a young persons game and by the time you reach your thirties your pretty much over the hill just like in sports. They have even proven that you are much more likely to win the noble prize when you are much younger due to the sheer output that is possible in your youth.

I don’t want to sound morbid because I still have many decades left in me I hope but I know that life can be cut short quite quickly as mine almost was 17 years ago. It’s almost like an anniversary. I don’t celebrate it but maybe I should. It reminds me that I was one way for so long and then in the blink of an eye I wasn’t. As an autistic that throws you the most extreme curve ball you can ever deal with. When you have reassess your whole life’s plan, reanalyse what you are now capable of but most crucially relearn basic human behaviour like walking, bowel control and sleeping through the night, is it any wonder that I have been lost for so long trying to rediscover myself?

I had barely found myself at 17 having led a very isolated and protected life. My mother worried excessively about my vulnerability to the point of making her obsessive about protecting me. This doesn’t help when your recovering from a near fatal car accident and she has to raise you all over again from not knowing what 2+2 is to the realisation that the reason you have sent your daughter to many hospital appointments is vindicated because she is autistic. Her differences with viewing the world finally make sense but now you have a new challenge as you don’t know the affects the car accident is going to have on her. Are you going to allow her the freedom to grow or are you going to increase your efforts to cocoon her from the harshness and realities of the world?

I spent the next year off school recovering and adjusting to my new way of being. I had done the SAT test immediately before my accident so that was a marker of my intelligence then but what was I now?

I never took the test again as far as I recall so we will never know but suffice to say I completed high school, did an Access course, a CISCO course in my spare time and got to university.

This is where the trouble begins because as well as losing my mathematical ability it seems I have also my ability to program. This is a big problem for a person who wants to be a computer scientist. Cue me exploring many other areas of interest while learning how to socialise, be a human and basically epically failing at my degree without me even realising. I passed in case your wondering.

For an autistic no longer having a sense of purpose is devastating. I had fulfilled all of the things (read my mother) had wanted for me. I had beat a accident that could have killed me, I had got a degree, I even had a partner with a house and his own business. What on earth was I going to do since I was clearly incapable of getting a job?

I’m still in the quandary of what do I do with my life and what am I capable of but I keep exploring new options. Life has never been simple or easy for me but hopefully I figure it out before it ends whenever that is.

Best wishes

Angela

The Mayan anthropology museum

This is a museum about the visual word. It demonstrates that the Mayan way of communication is completely different to anything else in the world. There are 31 different dialects and it shows in chart form how and where they evolved. It also demonstrates how the sound has changed over time.

The Mayan language started off being written in hieroglyphic form but with a completely different set of symbols to Egyptian. However when the Spanish invaded this was banned. So all Mayan practices had to conducted in secret or with the Latin language. As a result of this it meant that the ability to read and write was mostly lost until recently. The museum charts the work of anthropologists, enthographers and linguists from around the world but particularly Dresden, Madrid, and St Petersburg in there battle to understand this mysterious code. It was cracked but it took until the 1950s for this to happen. The Mayan language is now written universally in Latin and the hieroglyphs are left as part of there cultural heritage.

The reasoning for this is that the mayans used a vigesimal system which meant that they counted in 20s. This is quite a feat but remember there was no electricity in those days so no internet, television, radio, phones, computers to distract them.

For other number systems see here Alternative number systems.

The Mayan mathematical system was unique using dots and dashes to add all numbers together. They invented zero long before the Arabic zero. The Romans with their numerals never had the concept of zero. The Mayan knowledge of mathematics, physics and astronomy was comparable to the Ancient Greeks.

The Mayan calendar system was also unique in that it had 18 months of 20 days and 1 month of 5 days to create 365 days. The extra days were celebratory. They each had there own name and these were only repeated every 52 years. The date is written in 5 parts. The first 3 in numerals then you get words to represent where you are in that particular cycle.

The Mayan calendar system is similar to the Aztec calendar system so you can get easily confused as they are equally big numbers that seems rather abstract at once glance. You have to have a systematic and mathematical mind to grasp it. A bit like the old system of pounds, shillings and pence was once commonplace but now seems so awkward and obsolete.

There isn’t much in the museum itself anymore as it’s been open for 60 years now. It’s been moved to a new location further north but what is left is still intriguing. The artefacts themselves, the stories and the knowledge contained within. By the way this is in Spanish but you can get an English book if you left them hold your ID for the duration of your stay. It takes about a hour to look at it all.

Best wishes

Angela

A rest from cerebral matters

Today I wasn’t sure what to do so I got creative and made some fairies. I also looked up the Greek for the phrases that I wrote. By the way the word Eirini while meaning peace is also a girls name.

You can also see a book I’m reading, Max Tegmark’s Our Mathematical Universe, My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. So you see that I can’t always be intellectual. Sometimes I need a break to be a little more childish.