NO MORE Official Super Bowl Ad

30 January 2015

This is perhaps the best Super Bowl ad to appear in a long time. It went viral recently:

The origin of this was a thread in reddit a few months ago, in which people discuss unforgettable 911 calls:

http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/257agn/911_operators_what_is_that_1_call_that_you_could/chej079


Visit our FB: Aidan Group of Companies

18 January 2015

https://www.facebook.com/aidangroupofcompanies

This FB page showcases the lighter side of Aidan: social events, makan-makan and sports day.

If you want to apply for a job at Aidan, write to us at contact@aidan.com.my

We are hiring this year!

__________________________________________

In a related note, our condolences to the family of Allahyarham Tan Sri Ani Arope, who passed away last December. He was the first Chairman and (later) Senior Advisor to Aidan Group. When Alif, Iznan, Akmal, Bird & I first started Aidan as berhingus boys, Allahyarham was among the first to help us, root for us, fund us and encouraged us, to build our business. His wise words helped us to overcome many difficulties. Despite his prominence in the corporate world, he did not look down on us young kids who just started in business, as he saw the potential in us. Without him, Aidan will not be what it is today.

His contribution to the country, whether in the public or the corporate sector, was IMMENSE. If you are not familiar with his contributions, I suggest you read up on the many obituaries written of him. He was indeed a Towering Malaysian. May his Soul be Rested in Peace. Al-Fatihah.


Cool video on Turkey

18 January 2015

I love Turkey. I went to Turkey twice: the first time during a European backpacking trip in 2011, and the second time for my honeymoon in 2013.


psikik dipercayai oleh orang bodoh sahaja

15 January 2015

antaranya seperti beberapa pembaca blog ini. Dalam entri2 terdahulu yg saya tulis mengenai psikik, ada yang mengutuk saya kerana tak percaya kepada kuasa psikik. Ini adalah contoh orang bodoh. Saya juga mengalu-alukan anda (iaitu orang-orang bodoh yang mempercayai psikik) untuk memberi komen di entri ini, supaya boleh saya pamerkan kebodohan anda kepada pembaca-pembaca lain.

Sila lihat video ini (terbitan BBC Three) mengenai psikik yang dikantoikan:

Entri terdahulu mengenai psikik: https://suhaimiramly.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/kuasa-psikik-tidak-wujud/ (sila baca komen-komennya, 100% ialah ditulis oleh geng Bodoh).


A Proof That Some Spaces Can’t Be Cut

14 January 2015

A well-written and mathematically accurate article from Quanta Magazine (no wonder, it’s published by the Simons Foundation):

 

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20150113-a-proof-that-some-spaces-cant-be-cut/

 

The question is deceptively simple: Given a geometric space — a sphere, perhaps, or a doughnut-like torus — is it possible to divide it into smaller pieces? In the case of the two-dimensional surface of a sphere, the answer is clearly yes. Anyone can tile a mosaic of triangles over any two-dimensional surface. Likewise, any three-dimensional space can be cut up into an arbitrary number of pyramids.

But what about spaces in higher dimensions? Mathematicians have long been interested in the general properties of abstract spaces, or manifolds, which exist in every dimension. Could every four-dimensional manifold survive being sliced into smaller units? What about a five-dimensional manifold, or one with an arbitrarily large number of dimensions?

Subdividing a space in this way, a process known as triangulation, is a basic tool that topologists can use to tease out the properties of manifolds. And the triangulation conjecture, which posits that all manifolds can be triangulated, is one of the most famous problems in topology.

Ciprian Manolescu remembers hearing about the triangulation conjecture for the first time as a graduate student at Harvard University in the early 2000s. Though Manolescu was considered a phenomenon when he entered Harvard as an undergraduate — he had distinguished himself as the only person, then or since, to notch three consecutive perfect scores in the International Mathematical Olympiad — trying to prove a century-old conjecture isn’t the sort of project that a wise student takes on for a doctoral thesis. Manolescu instead wrote a well-regarded dissertation on the separate topic of Floer homology and spent most of the first decade of his professional career giving the triangulation conjecture little thought. “It sounded like an unapproachable problem, so I didn’t pay much attention to it,” he wrote recently an email.

Others kept working on the problem, however, clawing toward a solution that remained stubbornly out of reach. Then in late 2012, Manolescu, now a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, had an unexpected realization: The theory he’d constructed in his thesis eight years earlier was just what was needed to clear the final hurdle that had tripped up every previous attempt to answer the conjecture.

Building on this insight, Manolescu quickly proved that not all manifolds can be triangulated. In doing so, he not only elevated himself to the top of his field, but created a tool with enormous potential to answer other long-standing problems in topology.

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More at the links above.

(Yay for former IMO contestant! Many IMO participants go on to illustrious careers in mathematics and related fields.)

Manolescu’s result makes precise the “intuitive” notion that higher-dimension spaces are fundamentally different from the 2 & 3 dimensional spaces we are familiar with.

Thanks Irwan Iqbal for sending me this news.


The best response to the Charlie Hebdo killing is…

13 January 2015

… Joe Sacco’s “On Satire”.

This is wisdom.

Look it up, I am not going to post it here.

In a related note:

In 2008, Siné’s article and cartoons in the magazine Charlie Hebdo relating to Jean Sarkozy’s marriage to Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, the Jewish heiress, touched off a controversy, after journalist Claude Askolovitch described them as anti-Semitic. The magazine’s editor, Philippe Val, ordered Siné to write a letter of apology or face termination. The cartoonist said he would rather “cut his own balls off,” and was promptly fired.


RIP Alexander Grothendieck (d. 2014)

12 January 2015

I just learned that Alexander Grothendieck died in November last year.

Who is Alexander Grothendieck? He was perhaps the finest mathematician of the 20th century, whose work in algebraic geometry have given birth to one of the most illuminating, productive and ambitious mathematical developments in the 20th century.

He was a colorful character who led an eventful life. His father perished in Auschwitz. He taught a prestigious mathematical seminar at IHES Paris. He was involved in radical leftist activism, which made him a pariah in Parisian academe. He gave math lectures and preached pacifism in the jungles of Vietnam during the war while Americans bombs were exploding all around him. He won the Fields Medal, the highest honor in mathematics. He decided later in his life to give up mathematics totally. Finally, in 1990, he gave up on society in general, and left behind everything he had, to live alone in the Pyrenees.

After that, his reputation took a romantic turn: popular accounts talk of a genius mind, disillusioned with worldly honors and insincere colleagues, who sought enlightenment in solitary life. He wrote screeds against what he viewed as a reactionary society, and became somewhat of a mythical figure of the French Left (Fortunately he didn’t become like the other brilliant mathematician, who stopped doing mathematics and went to live alone in ramshackle cabin in the Montana woods).

During his self-imposed exile, Grothendieck would write letters to his former departmental colleagues, to ask them to destroy anything he had ever written, whether published or not. We are lucky that they collectively decided to ignore his request, lest we would be deprived of some of the most sublime mathematical ideas ever concocted by our species.

Now that Grothendieck had passed away, mathematicians the world over are working on a mammoth task: translating the whole Grothendieck oeuvre into the major languages, so that his mathematical ideas and programs can be disseminated outside the French-speaking world. Not that these are easy to read; it is estimated that the number of people who understand his whole work is no more than ten, that including his most brilliant and most devoted proteges, like Rene Deligne.

I’m happy to see that Grothendieck is not totally forgotten, although response to his death in the English speaking media was a bit muted. I can imagine science editors the world over asking “Alexander who?”. His obituaries appeared in some major English newspapers like The New York Times, The Independent, and The Telegraph (no BBC?). There is no such problem in France. In a country that places mathematics as a source of historical pride, Grothendieck is considered a national hero. Now if only we can locate his autobiography that is rumored to exist somewhere…

alexgrothendieck

He is the bald one

 

The best write-up on the life and work of Grothendieck that I can find online is by Pierre Cartier: http://inference-review.com/article/a-country-known-only-by-name/ .

Quote from The New York Times obituary:

He avoided clever tricks that proved the theorem but did not develop insight. He likened his approach to softening a walnut in water so that, as he wrote, it can be peeled open “like a perfectly ripened avocado.”

“If there is one thing in mathematics that fascinates me more than anything else (and doubtless always has), it is neither ‘number’ nor ‘size,’ but always form,” he wrote in a long memoir in the 1980s, “Reapings and Sowings.” “And among the thousand-and-one faces whereby form chooses to reveal itself to us, the one that fascinates me more than any other and continues to fascinate me, is the structure hidden in mathematical things.”

Softening walnut in water: a brilliant heuristic. RIP, AG.


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