Who Discovered America?

Hi folks!

After my Antarctic series on this here blog of mine, it looks like another series may be on the horizon – a historical one. Yesterday we had an alternative history of so-called crown dependencies; today – more history; not of a (British) crown dependency but a former (British) crown colony, no less…

So, who… you know, got there first from overseas? I was just curious after reading various scholarly versions and falsifications. So I read up more on the subject, and I discovered the following:

Episode 1: Homo Sapiens.

So who first discovered America? You know, like a zillion years ago? Well there’s no precise answer to that question one as it was… a zillion years ago, before things like writing and the keeping of records, and a zillion other useful things were invented. But, apparently, it was someone who was from what is now Siberia, who, at some point during the spring of the ice age, crossed the (possibly, at least in parts, dry) valley between the two glacial mountains on either side of what is today the (very wet) Bering Strait.

Who knows today what the Bering Strait looked like back then? Was it completely dry? Was it a swampy marsh? Or was it much like it is today – a sea? Did that first Siberian walk it? Canoe it? Swim it? We’ll probably never know, unless…).

Read on: What made them decide to go east?…

An Alternative History of Crown Dependencies.

My recent short trips to the Channel Islands (in particular, Jersey) had left me with many unanswered questions and much bewilderment. And of course what amazed me most was the official status of these mini-territories, and the fact that some have their own currency and even Internet domains.

Mercifully, my friend and colleague, V.G, (inter alia, our resident history buff) filled in the blanks in my knowledge regarding these so-called crown dependences in a blogpost he recently put on our intranet on the Second World War – in particular, on the Nazi occupation of crown dependencies. I was going to give you my version of what he wrote there, but, on second thoughts, I decided it’d be better straight from the horse’s historian’s mouth, as they say. So here’s his post – verbatim. All righty. Here we go…

—8<—
 In August 1940, a month after the beginning of the Battle of Britain, the German occupation regime of the Channel Islands – up to that moment crown dependencies of Great Britain – was finally established. These islands became – and remained, until May 16, 1945 – the only territories of the British Commonwealth occupied by the Wehrmacht.

A crown dependency is a territory dependent on the mother country (the United Kingdom) – not a colony; this had been the custom since the times of the Dukes of Normandy, and became law in 1563. In 1565, Elisabeth I introduced the institute of governors of the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and others. The island of Sark falls under the jurisdiction of Guernsey and is ruled by a constitutional monarch with the title Seigneur of Sark or Dame of Sark. 

Read on: Back to the island of Sark…

The Terrific Travels and Astonishing Adventures of Midori Kuma.

Midori Kuma came into this world in Tokyo, Japan. We know little about his childhood, in fact – almost nothing at all…

In his youth he led a somewhat free-and-easy, unrestrained way of life – indeed the antithesis of the archetypal Hikikomori. According to folks who knew him back then, Midori Kuma was often to be found at various Japanese parties, presentations, exhibitions and conferences. In other words, he led the same kind of life he leads today – that of an active participant doing the rounds on the society circuit.

Read on: Midori Kuma gets attention from ladies…

F1 warm up, Barcelona-style.

Quite unexpectedly, it turns out that the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is taking place at the same time that the F1 teams are test driving at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Well, obviously we have to go there! And, well, here we are!

During these test sessions the venues are usually deserted – no noisy crowds, no stony-faced security, no rushing to and from one part of the track to another and none of the hot dog fast-food smells. Nothing!

What’s new?

Read on: A fly in the ointment…

Darwin’s Patent Panopticon – Pt. 3.

Human ingenuity never fails to astonish, leave dumbfounded, and/or smiling. I mean, just look at this:

No, really. This is the main diagram in the US patent for a ‘manually self-operated butt-kicking machine’:

But wait – it gets better when it all gets described in words!

“The Butt kicker is very user friendly with the number of kicking repetitions, type of repetitions, speed of operation, amplitude or height of the kicking cycle, magnitude of the kicking force, and impact and energy of the kick all controlled by the user or operator. This invention is a new, novel, and unique machine with multiple uses, which range from amusement to fundraising and from motivation to discipline. The objectives of this invention are also many, including, but not limited to, teambuilding, self-therapy, to inspire creativity, and to be used as a model for future devices and works of art.”

Btw, it turns out there’s a whole industry (well, almost) dedicated to administering carefully placed kicks to the backside. Here’s another automatic boot-up-the-butt device I discovered in the patent database (seek, and ye shall find:).

Read on: I mean, really? Seriously? Oh yes…

Ask the Audience: Antarctic Creativity Ideas Needed!

Hi all!

As you already know, we’re off to Antarctica! And it’s no ordinary trip to Antarctica – if there can be such a thing – but a very extraordinary one, with an extraordinarily creative international delegation of modern-art adepts aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov research vessel; route: UshuaiaMarguerite Bay and back.

The Antarctic Biennale line-up will consist of 17 multidisciplinary artists; among them: Zhang Enli (China), Tomas Saraceno (Argentina), Joaquin Fargas (Argentina), Gustav Duesing (Germany), Yto Barrada (Morocco), Julius von Bismarck (Germany) and Julian Charriere (France/Switzerland). There are others too, but I don’t know their names yet. This multinational modern-art contingent was put together by the maestro of modern art, installations and performances, Alexander Ponomarev. Here are some of the latter’s works, btw:

So, led by the maestro, the artists will board the ship and for a week create some contemporary, unforgettable and fundamental modern art; then they’ll install their fresh masterpieces on the sixth continent. Yeah, that’s the plan.

Read on: how do I fit in among all these artists?…

Antarctic Modern Art Biennale!

Ferrari and F-1, all-women skiing expeditions to the South Pole, snooker, archaeological digs of ancient Minoan ruins, chess, and a lot of other stuff. I think the word is eclectic for all that lot. And for those at the back not listening – this eclectic selection is what we sponsor, support, help, assist, admire, and are proud of! But something was missing. Something that would make it even more diversified. We needed to add an ingredient of a perfectly… perpendicular nature – perpendicular to that lot (is that even possible?). So that’s just what we did: we added… modern art to the mix!

Drum roll……………………….. crash cymbal! We have another announcement!

We’re taking part in a project of the most unusual and original kind (drum roll still going, getting louder – just like pulses and breathing!). Like I say, it’s about modern art. But not simply ‘modern’, and not simply ‘art’; add to it the following, and that’s what we got!: a ship (research-vessel), the ocean, and Antarctica! It all adds up to the must uniquely uncommon project in the world in the field of modern art – the Antarctic Biennale!

The essence of the project is as follows: artists from all around the world take long flights to Ushuaia in southern Argentina. There they’ll board a ship and sail to Antarctica, all the while intensively gaining inspiration and creating. The floating creative laboratory, exhibition deck, and ocean-faring platform for dialog will be the Akademik Sergey Vavilov research vessel. And it’s going to happen in the second half of March of this year!

And the project was officially announced last Saturday evening in Room 15 (the Italian Courtyard) of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

Read on: Why?…

A Knight’s Move.

Howdy boys and girls!

Many of you will already know about our latest sponsorship project – seen it on the news or on one of our sites, if not this one.

But for those who missed it…

In this here large charming building, constructed specially to house such events – in the Emirate of Sharjah

…a few days ago we announced to the world that we’re now sponsors of world championship chess, i.e., of FIDE and World Chess!

Read on: So… why?…

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…

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?…