Sunday, March 25, 2007

Most Expensive Mobile Phone & Number

The most expensive mobile phone in the world — costing more than £500,000 — is being made in Austria. The phone, designed by luxury accessories maker Peter Aloisson, has sections of pure gold as well as 2,950 blue diamonds embedded into the cover.

Aloisson has for the past few years been taking existing phones and customising them with jewels and precious metals. He currently produces about three phones per year, depending on orders from his celebrity and wealthy clients, mostly retailing for about £20,000.

The new phone is a special order for a German manufacturer, and although it is being constructed for marketing purposes, the phone will eventually be sold off.

The world's most expensive phone number was auctioned May 2006 for charity in Qatar. The number, 666 6666, sold for 10m Qatari riyals or £1.5m.

The previous record holder was Chinese number 8888 8888, which sold for £270,000. The Cantonese word for eight sounds very similar to the word for rich. It was bought by Sichuan Airlines.

Having seven sixes as your mobile number might seem devilish to some, but interpretations vary. A brief dip into the weird world of numerology shows 666 is seen as holy in Judaism because it represents six directions — up, down, north, south, east and west. Others equate it with the Arabic word "ellah" meaning God.

On a techy note, the first Apple Computer sold for $666.66, the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is w — so "www" shows how evil the internet is. And finally, Viagra has a molecular weight of 666.7g/mol.

Random Odds & Ends
  • In the first month of Bell's telephone company's existence, only 6 phones were sold.
  • When Bell's patent was 16 months old, there were 778 telephones in use.
  • In Milan, Italy, the telephone company fines the operator when he or she dialed a wrong number.
  • When Alexander Graham Bell died on August 4, 1822, all phones served by Bell system in USA and Canada went silent for one minute to honor him.
  • The special tone available to users of Nokia mobile phones when receiving SMS (text) messages is actually the morse code for SMS.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Piece Of PI

Today is March 14th, for most people it is just another day of the week. For math junkies, however, this is the day to celebrate one of the most popular, loved and fascinating number in mathematics – pi. Yes, for those who don’t know it, March 14 (or 3.14, obviously) is celebrated yearly as pi day.

Pi – represented by Greek letter π -- is simply a relationship between a circle’s circumference and its diameter. Divide the circumference with the diameter and you will get its value. It is a mathematical constant however big or small the circle is. It has many uses in mathematics, physics and engineering.

For centuries, the value of pi have been calculated and used. As early as 19th century BC, Babylonian mathematicians were using the value of pi as 25 divided by 8, which is within 0.5% of the true value. Ancient Egyptians put it as 256 divided by 81 or 3.160. Today, the approximate value of 3.14159 is enough to most people. However, people have obsessed to calculate its value up to as many decimal places that they can. And in the age of supercomputers, the value of pi have been computed up to trillion decimal places.

But that’s not the end of the story. There are other interesting and amusing facts about this number:
  • The English amateur mathematician William Shanks spent over 20 years calculating π to 707 decimal places, which he accomplished in 1873. However, in 1944, D. F. Ferguson found that Shanks had made a mistake in the 528th decimal place, and that all succeeding digits were incorrect. By 1947, Ferguson had recalculated pi to 808 decimal places (with the aid of a mechanical desk calculator).
  • The first 31 digits of pi do not contain a zero. The millionth digit is a 1 while the billionth digit is 9. The number of the beast (666) appears in the 2440th place. At position 763 there are six nines in a row. This is known as the Feynman Point.
  • William Jones, a self-taught English mathematician born in Wales, is the one who selected the Greek letter π for the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter in 1706. In ancient Greece this symbol denoted the number 80.
  • In 1897 the State House of Representatives of Indiana unanimously passed a bill setting pi equal to 16/(sqrt 3), which approximately equals 9.2376!
  • In 2006, Akira Harguchi set the current world record of memorizing the value of pi to 100,000 decimal places. He also set the previous record of 83,431 decimal places on 2005. Before that the record is 43,000 decimal places set by Krishan Chahal. (For a list of people who memorized pi, see this site.)
  • The most common way to memorize pi digits to several places is to use piphilology – a poem or sentence where each word composed of letters that equal the number of each digit in pi. For example, “How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!” translates to 3.14159265358979.
  • Singer Kate Bush’s 2005 album “Aerial” contains a song titled "π", in which she sings pi to its 137th decimal place; however, for an unknown reason, she omits the 79th to 100th decimal places.
  • Swedish jazz musician Karl Sjölin once wrote, recorded and performed a song based on and called Pi. The song followed the decimals of Pi, with every number representing a certain note. For example 1=C, 2=D, 3=E etc. The song was then performed as a jazz song, thus making the harmony more liberal.
  • The band The Seahorses recorded a song called "Something Tells Me". It ends with the lyrics, "What's the secret of life? It's 3.14159265, yeah yeah!!"
  • In 1998, a movie entitled "π" is released. It is about a paranoid mathematician searching for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature.
  • There is a building in the Googleplex – Google’s company headquarters in California -- numbered 3.14159...
  • In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the emergency number for mobile phones at trains and subways is 31416
If you want to see (and attempt to memorize) pi up to 1 million decimal places, go to this site.

There’s a lot more amusing facts about pi and there are many websites devoted to it in case you are interested to know more.

So, happy pi day everyone! Oh, and by the way, 3.14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.

Random Odds & Ends
  • If you multiply 111,111,111 by 111,111,111 you get 12,345,678,987,654,321.
  • The Dewey Decimal System classification number for "Numerology" is 133.335. If you reverse this and add, you get 133.335 + 533.331 = 666.666
  • If you write the first 6 Roman numerals, in order from largest to smallest, you get DCLXVI = 666.
  • Albert Einstein once used a cheque for US$50,000 as a bookmark and lost it.
  • Einstein's body was cremated but he gave permission before he died to let scientists preserve and study his brain. The scientist are still picking at it today to search for signs of a genius.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Nation Of Warriors

Yesterday I watched the movie 300. Although I am not really a fan of graphic novels or comics, Frank Miller's works are one of those I really like. The movie is about King Leonidas and the 300 spartans who fought a massive army of invading Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae. The movie is an historical fiction (is that an oxymoron?) in that in included some ghouls and mythical monsters in the battle. However, that battle did occur. In August 480 B.C., Leonidas and his 300 men fought to the death defending the Pass of Thermopylae (Hot Gates). They killed hundreds, maybe even thousands, of King Xerxes men.

During that time, Sparta (now a city in Southern Greece) was a nation of warriors. It was said that they were a direct descendants of Heracles. Men began their training virtually at birth. Just after birth, the child is bathed in wine to see whether the child was weak or strong. If the child survived it was brought before the elders of the tribe by the child's father. The elders then decided whether it was to be reared or not. If found defective or weak, the baby was left on the wild slopes of Mt. Taygetos, also known as Apothetae or Place Of Rejection.

The Spartans began military training at about the age of 7 —everything from physical training such as hunting and dancing, to emotional and spiritual training. At that age they would have to go through a series of tests. They would have to run around a group of older children, who would flog them continually with whips, sometimes to death. At age of 21, they would leave home for military boarding school and were required to serve in the army until age thirty. Men could marry at the age of twenty but could not live with their families until they left their active military service at age thirty.

A Spartan could only return to Sparta from a battle in one of two ways, victorious or dead. If a Spartan hoplite (infantryman) were to return to Sparta alive and without his shield, it was assumed that he threw his shield at the enemy in an effort to flee; an act punishable by death or banishment.

Random Odds & Ends
  • Dry cleaning isn't really dry. It is called that way because the fluid contains little or no water and does not penetrate the fibres as water does.
  • The average temperature of a fart is 37 degrees Celsius and travels at just over three meters per second.
  • According to New Scientist magazine, sex boosts a compound in the body called IgA which is the first line of defense against colds and flu.
  • There are 25 calories in a Hershey's chocolate Kisses. 26 calories are burned during a passionate kiss.
  • By the year 2000, there are 10,000 vials of sperm stored at New England Sperm Bank.