What I learned today

I found this really interesting. I took my glasses off and it worked.

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8 math talks to blow your mind

I love learning about math, and the 7th video about Fermi problems was pretty great.

TED Blog

Mathematics gets down to work in these talks, breathing life and logic into everyday problems. Prepare for math puzzlers both solved and unsolvable, and even some still waiting for solutions.

Ron Eglash: The fractals at the heart of African designs
When Ron Eglash first saw an aerial photo of an African village, he couldn’t rest until he knew — were the fractals in the layout of the village a coincidence, or were the forces of mathematics and culture colliding in unexpected ways? Here, he tells of his travels around the continent in search of an answer.

How big is infinity?
There are more whole numbers than there are even numbers … right? Actually, there aren’t. This TED-Ed talk makes it crystal clear why not, in a lesson on the infinite infinities and math’s unanswerable questions.

Arthur Benjamin does “Mathemagic”
A whole team of calculators is no match for Arthur Benjamin…

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What I learned today

I was listening to Ask an Atheist and they were talking about extinction of megafauna, which are in themselves cool.  Megafauna are animals like elephants and mammoths that are over 45 kg in weight.  These are the monsters of nature that at one time dominated life, but now many of them have gone extinct.  It is theorized that the rise of humans contributed to their extinction in part by hunting them, but what really interested me is that diseases transferred from humans to these animals might have helped kill them off.  Many megafauna fossils show signs of tuberculosis which could have been transferred from humans to these animals.  I found it really interesting that these monsters of our past could have been killed off by disease.  It just puts it in perspective that the dominate species could be killed off by disease and with out vaccines humans are no exception.

Run for Rememberance

This past weekend VT held the annual 3.2 for 32. April 16 2007 one of the greatest tragedies to happen on a college campus happened at Virginia Tech. There are no undergrad students who were present on the day of the event but the memory of the tragedy is still very alive in the student body. As Hokies we came together this past weekend to remember those we lost. We remember such a difficult event in our history with a lively event. As I write this I realize how great the run is to remember those we last rather than leaving a dark mark on our history with a day off from classes. We come together to celebrate life rather than remembering the horror of that day as cheesy as that sounds.

This was the first year I came out to do the run and play tuba in the pep band. On the 3.2 mile run at every turn there was a different on campus organization, mostly music groups, to cheer on the people doing the run. Those of us in the pep band ran slightly before the rest of the runners to make it to the 2 mile mark just before the tunnel into lane to play Tech Triumph and the Hokie Pokie along with other stand tunes for the runners. Normally I would avoid playing small band gigs like the plague because they are not enjoyable experiences. Most of our stand tunes are very drumline heavy and we never have enough drummer willing to do a pep gig to make a drumline. The small gigs always sound weak and are musically lacking. One of the favorite songs for drum majors to have us play in these small gigs is the Hokie Pokie where my fellow tubas and I have to dance around and play which is exhausting. We almost never have to play the Hokie Pokie more than two or three times in the span of a full football game but this weekend I lost count at the fourth time I had to dance it. I am still a little sore two days later and normally would have been very unhappy I was forced to dance the Hokie Pokie so many times after running two miles, but for this event I am ok with it.  It always makes me so happy to see kids and old hokies alike dancing like idiots with us.  I would not have come out to play if my lady friend did not talk me into going but not I wish I had done it the past two years as well.

The pep band

The pep band

Bottom Creek Gorge Hike

This weekend we decided to explore a trail we haven’t checked out yet and is not extremely popular with other students.  We drove about an hour to Bottom Creek Gorge to see the second tallest waterfall in Virginia.  The drive was a bit harder than we expected with all the mountain driving but not an unpleasant drive.  We used the coordinates 37.130829, -80.180562 to find the trail head.  On the drive we passed a winery I plan on visiting on our next trip to Bottom Creek.

The trail splits into three paths making this a hike worth doing a few times in the same season.  We took the path that follows closer to the water up to the fall.  There was a small branch off the path that took you down to the water but most of the path you were a few dozen feet above the water.  I wished we had the time to take the longer blue path back but we had to take the main path which was fairly uninteresting back to the car.  The over look was worth the hike though.  Eating lunch at the overlook was worth the drive.  It was a beautiful view, debatably nicer than the dragon tooth’s view but without the difficult hike.

It should be worth coming back to see all the wild flowers once it warms up, but it was a little too cold for flowers when we went.  There was however a lot of animal life out and about, probably because so few people use this trail.  At the over look we saw two hawks flying over the fall.  On the was back we rounded a bend in the path and had to stop because we almost ran into two deer on the path.  They didn’t run off as we walked up to them but just slowly walked off the path and started eating less than two dozen feet away from us.  If nothing else the hike is worth the drive to avoid a crowded tourist hike on a beautiful day.

Dragon’s Tooth

Today I hiked Dragon’s Tooth with my lady friend and a friend of ours.  It was a 2.7 mile hike with most of the elevation change in the last .7 miles similar to the Chimney Tops hike I did recently.  We were all having a nice easy time until the last .7 miles which became a mix of trudging, climbing, and clinging to the rock face to make it to the summit.  Once at the top of the trail we climbed up the main tooth, well I climbed high enough to pop my head out and be exposed then went back down, while my friends climbed to the peak and sat for a while.  I searched for the summit geocach for a while but was unable to find it.  I still haven’t fully gotten the hang of finding cachs because my app gives me a plus or minus 4 meters when I get close to the final co-ordinates. Once the clouds started rolling in we climbed down to get to the car before the 30% chance of rain, but luckily for the people who stayed at the summit the rain never came.  This was probably the busiest I have seen a trail except for maybe the cascades on a beautiful spring day.

Homebrew Beer Brats

Last night for dinner I made beer brats with my American Wheat homebrew.  It was fairly simple but I was happy with how they turned out.  I coated the bottom of a pan with vegetable oil and added half a dozen brats to the pan and started them cooking.  I added half a chopped onion and a handful of mushrooms to the pan.  Then I poured a bottle and a half of homebrew into the pan to cover the brats, onions, and mushrooms.  I cooked the beer down till there was almost none left in the pan and the mushrooms and onions were caramelized. It was too cold and snowy outside to grill the brats but they still came out well.

Beer brats Beer Brats