March 21st, 2007

math: coffee to theorems

Happy Vernal Equinox!

Happy Vernal Equinox!

Somehow that 74 on my probability test turned into a B-. Yeah, I'm not asking how that happened. Oh well.

After class yesterday, though, I figured that since it was such a gorgeous day, I'd sit outside and write. I brought my CD player, Dr. Nbook, and my French homework outside with me and started writing in Dr. Nbook when I saw Stephanie a few minutes later. She had just gotten her math test back, and did I want to go to Decatur with her? Sure, so I put my stuff up and met her in her room. And off we went. We went to the bank so she could deposit her check, and then we stopped by Jake's, where I bought a chocolate slap happy cone. (Mmmmm) We hung out for awhile and finally headed back to Agnes for the Office of Multicultural Affairs open house, where they had vegan cake. I'm not a vegan (or even vegetarian), but I had some anyway. It wasn't bad. There were even door prizes, and Stephanie won a notebook.

So after all this eating, of course, I hardly felt like eating dinner. Then I remembered that I had work and lab tonight (and I'd be missing the Aurora layout party, which made me sad), so I wouldn't have another chance to eat until after lab. I managed to force down a sandwich and a salad.

This turned out to be a mistake.

I made it through work fine, but the walk to the observatory was miserable. I checked my e-mail when I got there and flopped on the couch in the computer room. (A pillow and blanket were there, too. I'm not sure whose they were, though, but I can probably guess.) When all three of us and Dr. DePree got there, he told us that it was too cloudy (and too light--remember, the sun hadn't set because of daylight savings time) to observe, I was thinking for once, "Thank Gödel," for that meant I wouldn't have to get up and walk around my telescope. Maybe I wouldn't throw up all over it.

We did move our meeting time to eight instead of 7:30, and then we did an indoor lab about the Hubble constant. Mine's off by a factor of ten, though; I'll fix it later. I did wind up running out of the room once during the lab; luckily nothing happened--then or later. Whew.

I feel much better now, though. Yay.

I did tell Arielle before the lab what I decided around this time last year--that I want everything out of a wedding except the groom. Just the pretty dress, everyone telling me I'm so gorgeous and congratulations, the cake, the reception, the honeymoon, et cetera. "Sure, you can entertain yourself during the honeymoon," she said.

"Of course," I replied. "I can just get some Canadian prostitutes to keep me company." And we cracked up. And this is where I started to sing the Ontario song in my head. You know, Ontariariario, a place to live and a place to grow. Ahem. Which reminds me, Michigan borders Ontario, and that amuses me. A lot.

So after lab I returned to my room, submitted my SpARC abstract, and collapsed.

Today. Today was the vernal equinox, and I celebrated by sleeping in and missing calc. I also received my fourth number theory assignment today, which I started. Dr. Koch personalized them. For the first problem, each of us (there are nine of us in the class) has a different code to crack. I cracked mine and realized that there's a theme to it, and then I immediately figured out everyone else's.

Before number theory, I had some time on my hands, so I decided to lie on the science quad and do nothing. Well, nothing except lie there and listen to music. It was a fantastic time. I got a few strange looks, especially since I was singing along to "Skullcrusher Mountain", but still. It was relaxing. I recommend it.

In number theory, we started talking about the Scottie Math Bowl; for which Dr. Koch and Dr. Riddle had posted announcements on Blackboard today. By the time Dr. Koch came in, half of us had already formed teams. Remember the winning team last year? Well, since we can have at most one person who is a junior or senior math major per team, we're splitting our team in half this year. Nicole and I are forming a team, and Melissa and Jayme are forming a team. We're in search of the other two members. It's going to be awesome.

Also! There's a pretty conclusive proof that the Riemann Hypothesis is FALSE. Yes, you read that correctly. Now, why is this important? Because so many things depend on it. One of the talks I went to last weekend was about large counterexamples in number theory--basically how you can test a bunch of numbers and see that whatever you're testing works, but it could very well be false, and you don't know it only because you haven't tested enough numbers yet. For some of these functions the numbers differed depending on whether or not one assumed the Riemann Hypothesis. I don't have the background to explain the entire proof (or even more than the basic meaning of the hypothesis, to be honest), or even understand it. I just know that so much of the mathematical world is changing. It's changing every day, but sometimes it shakes. Right now it's starting to shake. Not crumble, mind, but shake.

Why? Because something's changing. Something we've held out there as an unsolved problem for so long, but was long-believed to be true was proven not to be so. It's change. A lot of people don't like change. In order for mathematics to progress, though, things have to change on the foundations of mathematics.


With this, and putting Aurora together (I spent part of the afternoon doing that), and more random relaxation, who needs something fancy for the vernal equinox?
lj: cheaper than therapist

The weirdest things happen when you least expect them.

After getting off the phone with zeenell, I noticed that I had missed three calls since I last checked my phone. (I don't carry my phone with me all the time, if you didn't notice.) I didn't recognize the number, but it was the same area code as my cell phone (which, interestingly, isn't the same area code as my hometown). I listened to the message. It was quite strange. The caller was talking incredibly fast, and mentioned something about Vanderbilt, a guy named Jared, and a colonosopy.

I don't believe I'm due for a colonosopy for a few years.

Then at the end of the message the caller said, "Thanks for the message earlier; I needed the laugh." And she hung up. Say what now?

I ended my conversation with the voice mail and noticed that I still had messages. This time I knew that I had a text message, so I checked that box. Sure enough, there was one. It contained only a seven-digit number, but it appeared to come from my number. Whaaat? Now I don't exactly send myself text messages (or even to other people), so why on earth would this happen?

Either way, I Googled this seven-digit number, and guess what it turned out to be.

When you attach the same area code as my cell phone number to it, it's my neurologist's phone number. How strange is that? Excuse me as my mind boggles over this.
Completely off-topic, today's XKCD describes me perfectly. It also probably explains why my social life is the way it is.