HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- NASA engineers and mathematicians in this high-tech city are stunned & infuriated after the Alabama state legislature narrowly passed a law yesterday redefining pi, a mathematical constant used in the aerospace industry. The bill to change the value of pi to exactly three was introduced without fanfare by Leonard Lee Lawson (R, Crossville), and rapidly gained support after a letter-writing campaign by members of the Solomon Society, a traditional values group. Governor Guy Hunt says he will sign it into law on Wednesday.
The law took the state's engineering community by surprise. "It would have been nice if they had consulted with someone who actually uses pi," said Marshall Bergman, a manager at the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. According to Bergman, pi (p) is a Greek letter that signifies the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It is often used by engineers to calculate missile trajectories.
Prof. Kim Johanson, a mathematician from University of Alabama, said that pi is a universal constant, and cannot arbitrarily be changed by lawmakers. Johanson explained that pi is an irrational number, which means that it has an infinite number of digits after the decimal point and can never be known exactly. Nevertheless, she said, pi is precisely defined by mathematics to be "3.14159, plus as many more digits as you have time to calculate".
"I think that it is the mathematicians that are being irrational, and it is time for them to admit it," said Lawson. "The Bible very clearly says in I Kings 7:23 that the altar font of Solomon's Temple was ten cubits across and thirty cubits in diameter, and that it was round in compass."
Lawson called into question the usefulness of any number that cannot be calculated exactly, and suggested that never knowing the exact answer could harm students' self-esteem. "We need to return to some absolutes in our society," he said, "the Bible does not say that the font was thirty-something cubits. Plain reading says thirty cubits. Period."
Science supports Lawson, explains Russell Humbleys, a propulsion technician at the Marshall Spaceflight Center who testified in support of the bill before the legislature in Montgomery on Monday. "Pi is merely an artifact of Euclidean geometry." Humbleys is working on a theory which he says will prove that pi is determined by the geometry of three-dimensional space, which is assumed by physicists to be "isotropic", or the same in all directions.
"There are other geometries, and pi is different in every one of them," says Humbleys. Scientists have arbitrarily assumed that space is Euclidean, he says. He points out that a circle drawn on a spherical surface has a different value for the ratio of circumference to diameter. "Anyone with a compass, flexible ruler, and globe can see for themselves," suggests Humbleys, "its not exactly rocket science."
Roger Learned, a Solomon Society member who was in Montgomery to support the bill, agrees. He said that pi is nothing more than an assumption by the mathematicians and engineers who were there to argue against the bill. "These nabobs waltzed into the capital with an arrogance that was breathtaking," Learned said. "Their prefatorial deficit resulted in a polemical stance at absolute contraposition to the legislature's puissance."
Some education experts believe that the legislation will affect the way math is taught to Alabama's children. One member of the state school board, Lily Ponja, is anxious to get the new value of pi into the state's math textbooks, but thinks that the old value should be retained as an alternative. She said, "As far as I am concerned, the value of pi is only a theory, and we should be open to all interpretations." She looks forward to students having the freedom to decide for themselves what value pi should have.
Robert S. Dietz, a professor at Arizona State University who has followed the controversy, wrote that this is not the first time a state legislature has attempted to redefine the value of pi. A legislator in the state of Indiana unsuccessfully attempted to have that state set the value of pi to three. According to Dietz, the lawmaker was exasperated by the calculations of a mathematician who carried pi to four hundred decimal places and still could not achieve a rational number.
Many experts are warning that this is just the beginning of a national battle over pi between traditional values supporters and the technical elite. Solomon Society member Lawson agrees. "We just want to return pi to its traditional value," he said, "which, according to the Bible, is three."
I started using Amazon search recently. A GAH-zillion things are there. For some reason, it's sometimes easier to find the author of a book, or DVD movie title, or some such thing quicker on Amazon than it is wading through hits on Google lately. Especially so, if I just want to put a link to refer to something tangible but I don't want to spend a long time sifting through every friggin' mention of the term "Ensign Wesley Crusher" on 10,000 pencil-necked geek's fan sites to point to STNG as a passing reference.
I can't put the inputtable search engine form in this blog entry due to the way blogdrive formats their pages, or their java script editor or something. So just for me, I stuck it on the left side panel so I can use it like I do alot of links over there -- as my personal open-a-new-browser-window-and-don't-lose-my-train of-thought-in-the-other-four-open-browser-windows thing.
And then I thought about it. You guys buy all kinds of stuff anyway. When you are looking for your stuff, use the HFD search here, and buy it on sale at Amazon. That way, you get your stuff and I might get a few nickels thrown my way for helping you find your stuff.
A house. A place to put your stuff, man. - George Carlin.
I started to upload some pix over on Morphine Dreams @ deviantArt. Here is red sauce, taken while in the French Quarter in Nah'lins in a galaxy far, far away. Not that Nah'lins is very distant actually, but I've lost those sunglasses and that beard. Oh, and the girlfriend whose jean jacket is laying on the empty chair is long gone but I still have the Red Wings jersey.
Those two pix were already scanned in. I just re-sized/reformatted them as friendly downloadable .jpg files. Now I just have to decide what set of pix to tackle next. Once I get things rolling, I'll have better URLs to give you because the dA site lets you set up a certain amount of organization in your galleries. Then, you won't have to look at my infantile digital coloring book or endless Quake-related screenshots everytime you just want to view some nifty pix of other stuff.
Bare with me for a while though. I really should put some of the stuff I already have in digital format from scans or the digital camera up on that site first. Then there's the old sepia/brown and B&W photos I'd like to dig into before my great-uncle leaves town. He's the only one I now know that can identify most of the people in those pix. The majority of those pix are unlabelled and loose.
You can judge in what decade some of the photos were taken by the hairstyles or articles of clothing (like hats in the 30s). Some pix have names. One photo of about a dozen dirty, shoeless, Our Gang-looking kids with a school marm has a date of 1875. My great-uncle is pretty old, but not that old. I better do the research now, as next year may not come.
"It's not over until the Fat Man sings", Saddam Hussein wasn't heard as mumbling when he was discovered hiding in his spider hole last December by U.S forces in Iraq.
Just like Gotti's trusted underboss, Sammy The Bull, the Fat Man gave it up under pressure and told where Saddam Hussein was hiding. The Fat man is not going to benefit from singing however, according to the NY Daily News:
Because Musslit did not volunteer the information, he will not get the $25 million reward for Saddam's capture. "The U.S. Treasury gets to keep the money," said a senior U.S. commander, Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno.
So, The Fat Man coughs up Saddam for us and gets nothing except some likely post-interrogation medical treatment. "Fucking-A-Right", you say. Let me play Devil's Advocate (DA) for a second:
Housewife: "Boy, I wish they'd get Osama like they did Saddam."
Bridge Partner: "They will. I heard there's a multi-million dollar reward."
CIA guy: "I wish we could get good intelligence from someone inside al-Qaeda."
DA: "You won't. The Arab-street knows the U.S. re-negs on our rewards."
After fraggin' bots hundreds of times in Pain from Spain, it's unfortunate that binaryshi says that that will probably be his last Quake 3 Arena map. Since I had so much fun playing it, I thought why not check out some of his other maps and the best place to start, imho, is at the beginning.
RocknRoland is binaryshi's first released Quake 3 Arena map. Like PfS, it's also a pretty big one: 4-16 FFA DM/T players is suggested. Whether the players are humans or bots, this map will keep you happily fraggin' for a while. Each main area of RocknRoland may have its own theme, but there are multiple ways to get to these areas of interest from different levels.
Shown (left) is the double-decker bridge over the lava courtyard, where the Rocket Launcher respawns. Below that is where Haste respawns. Overlooking the courtyard (center-top) is the Rail Gun. Behind the ledge to its right, you'll find a chute where the Personal Transporter is located. Needless to say, this courtyard is a popular destination for Bots and Humans alike. The MegaHealth is available in another area, atop a statue in a room with mutiple entrances. You can see (above) the Quad Damage power-up on a ledge near the Quake on fire wall. What you may not see is someone running up on you with the Invisibility power-up and a double-barrel Shot Gun.
This is one reason Q3A maps by binaryshi are absolutely great. Not only does he think about game flow in his architecture, but also details like this huge metal Q3A symbol above the lava courtyard showing the moving clouds environment through it.