Tag Archives: XKCD

Fields arranged by purity (new take)

Epistemological philosophers were pure before it was cool…

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Group theory in simple English

Are you sick of academese? Or maybe your field really is so hard that the thought of explaining your research to your grandma has never even crossed your mind? Now you have a chance to explain a hard idea (e.g., your research topic) in simple words – in fact, with only the 1,000 most used words! A friend who is a group theorist has just made group theory sound awesomely simple: 

A group is a set of things with a way of putting two things together to get another thing. One type of group is all the ways of moving three things in space to a different place, and in fact if space was “bigger” we could get a bigger group by having more things to move. If we only do some but not all of these moves we can get a smaller group, but sometimes this will only be a little bit smaller than the group that we started with. I am interested in trying to find all of these slightly smaller groups in the situation where we are trying to move ten add six or ten add seven things.

And here is a longer explanation of Hilbert’s Hotel:

The House of Mr Hilbert:
Suppose that you are a person who has a big house where other people can give you money in order to come and live in a room for a short time. (click here to read the rest) …

Try it out here and post the results in the comments!

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A billion-storey building

This has nothing to do with mathematics or sociology… well, not quite nothing, but you know, it isn’t really research – although it is (a) fascinating and (b) gives you an idea of what mathematicians find fascinating… anyway, I hope you find it fascinating, even if you’re not a mathematician and enjoy this story about all the reasons why it is not possible to build a building with 1,000,000,000,000 floors!
http://what-if.xkcd.com/94/
billion_100x100x100x100x10

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