I have, regrettably, been too busy to blog lately. But I’m here now.
There are two personal items I’d like to discuss, so I’ll begin with the first, follow it with selected links from around the Web, and finish with the second item. Both involve some kind of appeal for assistance, although one more so than the other.
The first concerns a card game I invented, and that we playtested at my birthday party last month.
My birthday was June 12, but for reasons pertaining to Dad’s recent retirement, it was one week later that a small celebratory gathering took place. There were five people present: a friend, an uncle, my parents, and myself (unfortunately, the uncle had to leave early). I left most of the organising and decision-making to my parents, but playtesting a card game was my one explicit request.
The game was one that I invented and blogged about in 2011, but at the time it was a work in progress and the rules yet to be fully refined. But recently I took it off the backburner, made a few small adjustments, and updated my original blog post accordingly.
The twist is that this is not a game you can play with the familiar deck of hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs. Rather it is designed for Ganjifa, which are traditional playing cards from India. Ganjifa come in a few different types, but they are typically circular rather than rectangular, with at least 96 cards per deck (twelve ranks, eight suits). I bought my deck from the Playing Card Museum in Stuttgart, Germany during a 2011 holiday.
Regrettably, in my opinion, Ganjifa are used for only a handful of games and even those are dying out. I don’t care too much about the traditional games, but it’s a pity that the cards themselves lack a living tradition of new games being invented. This is a stark contrast with western playing cards, which are used for hundreds of different games with more being invented all the time. Obviously the difference is not that western cards are so superior; it is simply a historical accident. My point is that the world could do with more Ganjifa games, and the game I’ve invented is my contribution to that end.
Here’s where my appeal to the Internet comes in — because the one thing I have not managed to do is decide on a name for the game. Since it is played with Indian cards, I feel that giving it an Indian name would be an appropriate tribute to the culture that created them, and have been appealing for help from people who know Indian languages and are interested in helping to name a new card game.
[Update: I’ve now received a response to this query and have updated the game.]
So far I’ve not received a single helpful response. To be fair, it’s a request that calls for a very specific combination of knowledge, interest and inclination, but the Internet is a big place and I’m surprised that requests on multiple forums haven’t yet borne fruit. If you can help, or know someone who probably can, I would greatly appreciate it. I’ve suggested the name केंद्र कड़ी (crudely: Kendra Kari) for reasons outlined in my Google Plus post, but I really require informed human feedback and not just the results of automated translation tools.
Now that you’ve read this far, here are some links:
- What to expect on the approach to Pluto.
- If no alternative presents itself, some flatworms inject themselves with sperm.
- I think having my viruses analysed might be quite interesting.
- Google’s neural network hallucinates. Two of my favourite images are here and here.
- The winners of the Earth and Sky Photo Contest are worth ten minutes of your time.
- Google Earth fractals by Paul Bourke, published 2012. Via Stan Carey on Twitter. Direct links to selected images: [************]
- I’ve been using the Planets Close-Up theme in Firefox for years now, but recently downloaded the Oriental Spring in the Canyon theme, with the intent of alternating between the two themes as the mood strikes me.
- This article on Cracked is good, but I’m really recommending it for the links, some of which are very worth your while. (Should I tell you which, or should I just let you read all of them? Hmmm.)
- I’ve known about these fake bomb detectors for years, but had not understood the scale.
Now to the second personal item.
A while ago, just for fun, I decided to see if I could guess an approximate formula for time dilation in general relativity. I didn’t expect to be right, but using a combination of high school physics, Ockham’s Razor, and a few elementary facts, I gave it my best shot.
So I was genuinely delighted to discover later that my result checks out against real-world examples!
This page on Quora has a couple of obvious faults (the biggie is that the altitude of the ISS varies between 330 and 435 kilometres according to Wikipedia, so calculating a result to so many significant figures makes no sense), but the relevant formula corresponds closely to mine. Moreover, plugging their result into my formula puts the ISS in the right range — at about 375 kilometres. Another example I found is that time goes faster by 10 nanoseconds per year for every floor you go up in a building; again, my formula checks out, putting the difference between floors at a very reasonable three metres.
I am no genius (trust me on this), but in all the popular science I’ve read, I have never seen anyone mention that an approximate but workable formula for time dilation in general relativity is astonishingly easy to guess. Feeling that I’d stumbled on an angle that popular writers have missed but would be useful to others, I decided to write up my results as an article of my own. Please remember this is an un-factchecked draft, and I am no more an expert than the target reader, but you learn by doing. It’s written in the style of a popular science article, and is 1000 words long.
If any real popular physics writer reads this — I would love to hear your feedback. Also, you are welcome to take inspiration for your own blog posts, and I hope you will be so kind as to send me a link if you do. A tweet to @GoldHoarder will do nicely.
(Incidentally, I used a free PDF converter, so the links don’t work, but since they’re fully spelt out they won’t slow you down very much. Since it’s a draft, I find this acceptable.)