Monthly Archives: January 2017

Oh, Vienna – It Means Something to Me.

Vienna, capital city of Austria, is one of the few European cities which for some perplexingly mysterious reason always seems to not feature in my busy schedule. Or, rather, I seem hardly ever to feature in Vienna’s busy schedule.

I’ve been here a few times, but each time I never got even a minute of tourism in. It was always airport > hotel > conference > speech > meetings > interviews > dinner > sleep > breakkie > suitcase > taxi > airport. Boo. For Vienna is… venerable, and deserves much more time and attention. Well just the other day I finally did it – finally took some time out from that ever-present busy business schedule of mine and invested it into having a stroll around the center of this magnificent city…

St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Alas, we didn’t have time to go inside (so much for spending quality time in Vienna:). That will have to wait until next time…

Read on: Hundertwasser…

2017: Leonardo, Fibonacci and Fermat Numbers: It’s Not So Complicated.

In my previous post we had a math competition. Let me remind you of the task:

Using +, -, x, ÷ and (), make the row of numbers from 10 to 1 equal 2017.

That was an easy task, which got more complicated.

How about 9 to 1 with arithmetic equalling 2017? 8 to 1? 7 to 1? And down to just 1?

Before I could say ‘What January blues when you’ve got arithmetic in your life!?!’ I had answers from people in our fan club streaming in! And some of them (remember, there are different possibilities to get the same answer of 2017) were so wonderfully interesting, while others were so interestingly not-quite-elegant enough, that, well, I just had to share some of them with you…

Read on: A real math indulgent…

An Extraordinary Small Village in the Swiss Alps.

Hi folks!

Phew. After a few days’ rest and recuperation since last week’s merciless working schedule at the WEF, I do believe I’ve recharged my batteries sufficiently to be able to continue my notes on my four-day stay in Davos, where the WEF took place.

First – rewind: some history…

So, just why is it that this famous yearly forum – infamous to some, helpful to others – takes place in this particular tiny village in Switzerland?

I’ve got two versions…

Read on: A story of a remote quite place…

2017: Prime Numbers, Factorials, Primorials, Derangements: It’s Complicated.

As many will already know, the number 2017 is a prime number; that is, it can be divided without a remainder only by itself and 1. Must say, the theory of prime numbers is a wholly interesting one and an extremely useful one too, as any cryptographer will tell you :).

But today I’ll be writing about something different. See, based on the fact that 2017 is prime – or ‘simple’ – many, myself included, are anticipating a simple, straightforward and calm year 2017, especially since 2016 was a bit of a rotter. Let me show you why.

Like I said, prime numbers are those that can only be divided by themselves and 1 without leaving a remainder. Non-prime numbers are called composite numbers, incidentally.

Turns out that 2016 is not only a composite number but a very composite number! It has a whole eight divisors. Grab a calculator your smartphone and test it for yourself:
2016 = 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 3 * 3 * 7

Whoah! Even the quantity of divisors is anything but simple, since 8 = 2 * 2 * 2.

So what about other years? Was 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution, a ‘prime’ year, for example? No, it wasn’t. 1917 = 3 * 3 * 3 * 71. Just four divisors, but they’re kinda poignant – and prophetic of nothing much good.

So what about other very prime/simple years, and other very non-prime/non-simple ones? Ok, let’s narrow this down a bit to 1980 through present day…

Prime/simple years:
1987
1993
1997
1999
2003
2011

And in the near future there are a few more prime/simples:
2027
2029

(eek, that’s a lot of non-simple years until then)

The most non-prime/non-simple years were:
1984 = 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 31 (seven divisors)
2000 = 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 5 * 5 * 5   (also seven)

There were six divisors in 1980, and there’ll be six in 2025. All other years can be called semi-prime/semi-simple.

But I digress…

Now, in the popular British mathematical journal The Guardian :), readers were recently teased with a… brain teaser. In the blanks between the sequence of figures 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 you need to add arithmetic symbols (+, -, x, ÷, (),) – as many as you like – so as to get the number (year) 2017.

For example, if you add arithmetic signs as follows you get 817:
10 * 9 * (8 + 7 – 6) * (5 – 4) + 3 * 2 + 1 = 817

But how do you add arithmetic to get 2017?
10?9?8?7?6?5?4?3?2?1 = 2017

Come on, have a go!

As for me, in nine minutes I got the equation to equal 2017 by kinda wonky arithmetic (I made the ‘3’ and ‘2’ = ’32’!); then, in around 15 or 20 minutes I got the answer in a proper way without bending the rules. I say ‘a’ way: there are different ways of getting to 2017!

So, tried it yet?

Ok, let’s make it harder: Now take away the 10:
9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1 = 2017

Read on: How to make 2017 out of 1?…

On Your Marks, Get Set… Go!

Having a depressing January? Well don’t! Get out and about – preferably on the road! Which is just what I did. With my trusty big black suitcase

To warm-up it’ll be Western Europe, mostly of the Alpine variety. Then it’ll be a healthy dose of equatorial/tropical travel, then back to Europe, then back home for a bit. It’s going to be fun, I can tell, and I’ll be sharing that fun, plus pics thereof, as I go along (I’ve already found the ‘masterpiece’ button:).

Read on: Best get started…

2016: Only 52 Weeks, but So Much Done!

All righty. The Christmas tree’s been taken down, the New Year merriment appears to have vanished, and it’s still very cold and snowy. So what better time for a bit of taking stock in the calm, cold light of day January. Therefore, as per tradition (2015, 2014, 2013), herewith, a cursory glance back over my personal highlights my year…

The first thing I can say is that it was a relatively calm year. In all 92 flights – lagging quite a bit behind the previous year’s record of 116. All the same, a couple of months were very intense aviation-wise: 12 flights in March and 13 in September. On the other hand, I had my first whole month without flying anywhere at all in many years: November.

Now – a bit more detailed:

Read on: Any round-the-world trips?…

Happy New Year from Central Moscow!

Happy New Year folks, and hope you all had great holidays!

You won’t believe this… but this post is about… RED SQUARE! // Incidentally, the square I consider to be the most beautiful spot in Europe!

I hadn’t been in downtown Moscow on New Year’s Eve since… oooh, 15 years ago! Yep – 2001 was the last time, on Pushkin Square watching the fireworks. But I’d never been on Red Square on New Year’s Eve. What?! So this year I decided to make amends…

So how was it? Well, actually, my overall impressions were… mixed. And it’s those mixed impressions that I’d like to share with you today.

Read on: Red Square was really something!…