## Random Observations: Analysis vs Algebra predicts eating corn?

OK – it’s summer and we are all enjoying tasty summer treats, like, say, corn on the cob.

But, did you know that how you eat corn tells a lot about your other preferences?

‘Back when I was in grad school there was a department lunch with corn on the cob. Partway through the meal one of the analysts looked around the room and remarked, “That’s odd, all of the analysts are eating corn one way and the algebraists are eating corn another!” Everyone looked around. In fact everyone was eating the corn in one of two ways. One way was to munch over the length of the corn in a straight line, back up, turn slightly, and do another row across. Kind of like how an old typewriter goes. The other way was to go around in a spiral. All of the analysts were eating in spirals, and the algebraists in rows.’

It seems natural that the way you analyze/think about the world around you extends to how you interact with your surroundings – including how you eat.  Mentalists have long taken note of such cues and used them to cold-read their clients.  So, why should we be surprised that this connection exists between how we eat and how we approach mathematics?

Or, indeed, life in general?

And not just mathematics:  programming, too:

‘Let me give some examples. Upon my first encounter it was clear to me that object oriented programming is something that appeals to algebraists. So if you’re a programmer and found Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software to be a revelation, it is highly likely that you lean towards algebra and eat your corn in neat rows. Going the other way, if the techniques described in On Lisp appeal, then you might be on the analytic side of the fence and eat your corn in spirals. This is particularly true if you found yourself agreeing with Paul Graham’s thoughts in Why Arc Isn’t Especially Object-Oriented. There was a period that I thought that the programming division might be as simple as functional versus object oriented. Then I encountered monads, and I learned that there were functional programmers who clearly were algebraists. (I know someone who got his PhD studying Haskell’s type system. My prediction that he ate corn in rows was correct.) Going the other way I wouldn’t be surprised that people who love what they can do with template metaprogramming in C++ lean towards analysis and eating corn in spirals. (I haven’t tested the last guess at all, so take it with a grain of salt.)’

To which I add:  you should always eat your corn on the cob with a few grains of salt!  And lots of butter…

## Blindsight

I did not know that this is possible, but it’s quite amazing.

A man had several strokes which left him blind.

But, his eyes were not damaged – only the visual cortex, the part of the brain which processes the input from the eye into pictures, was damaged.

The most curious thing happened:  bits of information fed from the eyes to other bits of the brain were interpreted correctly.  The patient could even navigate a maze without help, without bumping into things – even though he could not actually see the obstacles!

Apparently, this is called ‘blindsight’!

So, what is it called when you can actually see things well, but still bump into them all the time?  ;o)

## Relativity Part 5: The Twin Paradox

This is an excellent explanation which explains why the choice of reference frames does not affect the results when one of the frames undergoes acceleration with respect to the other – something not properly covered in many explanations of the ‘paradox’.

## A little getaway

I will be getting away from it all for a bit.

While I am away, up North – with no internet access – I have pre-scheduled a few post for the next week or two.  However, I will not be able to moderate comments, so these will have to wait for my return.  My apologies…