Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Writing and maths are the two cornerstones of advanced civilisation and when the two are combined, one can experience true awe. Recently I've been reading books on maths (sometimes my brain craves mental exercises, problem solving and understanding how people think) such as "The Archimedes Codex", "The man who loved only numbers" and "Born on a blue day". Sometimes you just have to sit back and be amazed at genius. After reading Archimedes' proof regarding the area of a parabola, I couldn't help but put down the book and be astounded at how he did it. Pure geometric genius. No calculus required, however he was ever so close to coming up with the idea. If only he had algebra and the Greeks didn't have a fear of infinity.
Talking about infinity, I like to freak out my year 11 maths students by telling (and proving to) them that there are the same number of even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8, ...) as there are whole numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ....). That's courtesy of Cantor.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Was that so hard?

8th May 1985 - "The vast majority of today's population were either children then or had not been born. They cannot profess a guilt of their own for crimes that they did not commit. No discerning person can expect them to wear a penitential robe simply because they are Germans. But their forefathers have left them a grave legacy. All of us, whether guilty or not, whether old or young, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it. The young and old generations must and can help each other to understand why it is vital to keep alive the memories. It is not a case of coming to terms with the past. That is not possible. It cannot be subsequently modified or made not to have happened. However, anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present. Whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to new risks of infection."

12th April 1990 - "We, the first freely-elected parliamentarians of East Germany, admit our responsibility as Germans in East Germany for their history and their future and declare unanimously before the world:
Immeasurable suffering was inflicted on the peoples of the world by Germans during the time of National Socialism. Nationalism and racial madness led to genocide, particularly of the Jews in all European countries, of the people of the Soviet Union, the Polish people and the Gypsy people.
Parliament admits joint responsibility on behalf of the people for the humiliation, expulsion and murder of Jewish women, men and children. We feel sad and ashamed and acknowledge this burden of German history."

7th January 1998 - "The Government of Canada today formally expresses to all Aboriginal people in Canada our profound regret for past actions of the federal government which have contributed to these difficult pages in the history of our relationship together. One aspect of our relationship with Aboriginal people over this period that requires particular attention is the Residential School system. This system separated many children from their families and communities and prevented them from speaking their own languages and from learning about their heritage and cultures. In the worst cases, it left legacies of personal pain and distress that continue to reverberate in Aboriginal communities to this day."

13th February 2008 - "For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry."