Fantastic Voyage and science

It seems that nanobots might soon become a reality.

Australian creators hope their tiny motor – which is less than the width of three human hairs – will soon power medical nanorobots that can swim through tiny blood vessels into the brain.

I love this sort of stuff.

Last night the boyf and I watched a BBC documentary on the History of Maths, and how the many of the major advances in mathematics were actually made by the Chinese, Indians and Arabs. And remember that these are the same people who we in the west considered savages and uneducated. As more comes to light of the amazing discoveries that the Chinese, Indians and Arabs made, more credit is being given to them for their part in the history of mathematics.

I still think that the greatest discovery made by man is not penicillin, not the wheel – but the discovery of the number zero. The use of zero not only as a place holder, but as a proper number led to the great advances in mathematics that allowed modern civilisation to flourish.

The importance of the creation of the zero mark can never be exaggerated. This giving to airy nothing, not merely a local habitation and a name, a picture, a symbol, but helpful power, is the characteristic of the Hindu race from whence it sprang. It is like coining the Nirvana into dynamos. No single mathematical creation has been more potent for the general on-go of intelligence and power.

G.B. Halsted

Dividing by zero…allows you to prove, mathematically, anything in the universe. You can prove that 1+1=42, and from there you can prove that J. Edgar Hoover is a space alien, that William Shakespeare came from Uzbekistan, or even that the sky is polka-dotted. (See appendix A for a proof that Winston Churchill was a carrot.)

Charles Seife

As they say, there are 10 types of people in this world. Those who can count in binary and those who cannot.

22 Responses

  1. You can divide numbers (other than zero) by zero? That’s news to me. How?

  2. ToSY,

    A number divided by zero is infinity. That is the joke.

  3. A number divided by zero is infinity.

    Oh. (Not a carrot?)

  4. Haha…. it is only orange in certain light.

  5. Will they send the first motor to G W Bush so they can locate the clot in his brain which led to the horrendous decisions of the last 8 years.

  6. ToSY,

    And even that link says that the answer is infinity.

  7. Yes. Don’t these people know anything?


  8. HAHA

    I think that maths is just amazing. Elegant and pure – much like myself if I can be allowed to say so.

  9. Just a question re nanorobots that can swim through tiny blood vessels into the brain. Ah yes, but can they get back out again?

  10. Min – that’s tomorrows problem.

  11. Yes the development of the concept of zero allowed us to move from a counting system to a number system.. Can now go to ‘infinity’ is both a positive and negative direction.

    As for:

    “there are 10 types of people in this world. Those who can count in binary and those who cannot.”. Lol. Things are either black or white or ‘on’ or ‘off’?

    But perhaps there are 11 types of people – those who can; those who can’t and those who are undecided.

    Not sure if zero ranks as the greatest concept developed. The development of ‘alphabets’ might just shade it.

  12. N5

    I like the line that it allowed us to change from counting to number system. Very clear.

    And I am willing to give a little on alphabets. But only a little mind you.

  13. Joni..notice the deathly silence re you being elegant and pure? Don’t worry sweet heart..I think that you are very elegant. [Min holds her tongue re the pure bit].

  14. To me ‘alphabets’ and ‘zero’ are ‘concepts’ and not ‘discoveries’.

    The wheel and its shape, for example, already existed in nature. They were discovered or identified. Certain shapes could roll easier than others and it became a search for the ‘wheel’ and then ways to use same and make improvements. A bit like the boomerang. Fire also falls into that category.

    Not so the alphabet or zero. That’s pure genius. And the irony is that no single individual or individuals can be identified. Just think of the missed patent opportunities. Lol.

  15. So true N5.

    I think for me the difference between the alphabet and the number zero is that for a long time we had numbers but no zero, and the “invention” (for want of a better word) of zero changed everything.

    But imagine having a patent on the number zero. There would not be enough zeroes for all your money and you would still be making money when they sent you your bank statement.

  16. A little story I used to tell my maths students:
    Two Indian (don’t ask me why) mathematicians are playing in their sandpit a long time ago.
    Suddenly, one jumps up and down and says to the other, ‘Guess what, I’ve just discovered zero!!!!!!’
    “So what’, said the other, ‘That’s nothing…’

  17. ” more comes to light of the amazing discoveries that the Chinese, Indians and Arabs made”

    Indeed!. But focussing on the Arabs fo the moment because they have had such bad press of recent times. Let’s start with soap. Definitelty Arabic. It is said that the Crusaders definitely offended Arabic nostrils because they did not use soap. They stank.

    The pin-hole camera. It was an Arab who realised that light entered the eye and allowed ‘sight’ and not the eye emitting light as was the ‘common sense’ of the time. Other contributions include – ‘coffee’, the ‘arch’, the ‘windmill’ (500 years before it came to Europe, ‘vaccination’, ‘carpets’ the ‘torpedo’ and the list goes on.

    Great contributors to mankind but largely unrecognised in the West.

  18. N5

    Absolutely true. Major major contributions to mankind and we demonise them so much.


    It seems that the first recorded use of zero was actually the Indians. Probably when they were marking down Matthew Haydens score. 😛

  19. Just going back a little. I must admit to cheering when the statue of Saddam was overturned, little understanding the politics of the country.

    However, and very quickly I felt in my heart of hearts that this whole crusade was doomed once I saw US servicemen (through no fault of their own) standing there armed crossed while the museums of Baghdad were pillaged by looters. I dread to think how much has been lost by this war, and this is aside from human lives lost.

  20. “I must admit to cheering when the statue of Saddam was overturned”min

    A carefully orchestrated “made for the bunnies back home” moment if ever there was one.

  21. I’m pretty sure that most of the “crowd” was rounded up by US PR officers & the psychological warfare unit, who can be seen at the fringes.

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