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Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

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### My handwriting ...

Re:Dip Pens Require(d) Cursive (613 comments)

If you're willing to spend a little more money and effort, you can get a used Parker 51 on ebay for less than \$50. It's by far the best pen I've ever used and has lasted me five years so far. Parker Vectors (\$10) are a good way to see if you like fountain pens, I think.

more than 5 years ago
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### A Look Back At Kurzweil's Predictions For 2009

Re:What "war on terror" is that? (307 comments)

I agree with your conclusion, but you CAN have a war on a noun. For example, Japan.

more than 5 years ago
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### Drinking Coffee From a Cup In Space

There are around 6 billion humans, so this would make the total water consumption equal to around 16 times the human population.

I started out writing this post on how this number is way too low, but it's actually more reasonable than you might think. I do think it's off by an order of magnitude (but I thought it was off by at least 5).

Assume water consumption is roughly proportional to mass. The rest is based on wiki Biomass article. From the "domestic biomass = 700 mill tonnes = 1% of earths biomass" estimate a total biomass of 7*10^10 tonnes. Say a third of that is from animals (there are a lot of small critters in the sea, so maybe), so we have around 2*10^10 tonnes animal biomass. 6 billion humans = 1*10^8 tonnes biomass, so we're talking the equivalent of 1200 billion humans, ie, around 10 times your estimate. So that would make the two quantities even closer.

more than 5 years ago
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### Fewer Shuffles Suffice

Re:How is this random? (101 comments)

The interleaving is assumed random. I believe that the deck is randomly divided into 2 stacks, and then we sequentially take cards from each of the stacks, choosing the stacks with probability in proportion to the number of cards in each. I would actually take a look at the paper if you're interested - the result is not that esoteric. What's nice about the proof is the very clever idea (something about certain sequences of cards), which makes the proof itself pretty accessible.

more than 5 years ago

# Journals

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### Travel

Anyway, school starts tomorrow, so I've got no time to spare on the assignment. A rough draft is all that's asked for, so I'm planning to exploit the system by slamming out ~1200 words and not being particular about quality.

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### Granular Matter Paper

Or not. But anyway, I found it interesting, so I'm writing a paper about it for my IB extended essay. For those of you unfamiliar with IB, this is the equivalent of a senior research project.

I've just finished a "reasonably-final" draft of the paper. It's not hard to read, give it a look. Of course, it isn't really light bedtime reading. Most of my friends found it interesting, though.

Some readers (of my audience of three) are probably thinking, "Why the hell do we care about sandpiles?" Well, first of all, granular materials are really important in industry, geology, and other practical areas. Second, the pile is also a way to visualize the idea of self-organized criticality. SOC says that some systems evolve toward a critical point on their own, without having to have fine-tuned parameters. This idea is in vogue right now; it's been applied to everything from pendula to mass extinctions. Pretty neat. There's more to sand than meets the eye.

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### Throat Infections

Anyway, I've received a message from Aditi's mom, saying she's in the hospital. The poor thing has had a throat infection for a while now. Whenever she was online, she was tired, but I'd keep here awake instead of letting her sleep (like she probably needed to). She's getting rest now, at any rate; her infection didn't respond to oral antibiotics, so she currently receiving IV fluids and antibiotics. I'm damned if I know the difference an IV makes, other than making things seem serious. Perhaps it's a digestion thing.

Thankfully, her mom reports that she should be home tomorrow morning, at ~10AM (IST). Hospitals are scary. I'm glad she'll be out soon, and that it's nothing major, despite all the medical paraphernalia.

Update: She's okay, and is back home. Tired, but okay. I'd like to thank god, but I'm an atheist.

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### Summer Classes Over

The exams actually don't look too scary, provided I study and get some sleep (ha!). Math (Multivariable Calc.) looks fun (Stokes' Theorem is ridiculously cool), and the midterms weren't tough at all. Econ (Intro to Macro) will be a joke, if the final is anywhere near as short as the midterms were.

But anyway, this program has put Harvard high up on my list. The profs are really good, the campus is beautiful, and the place seems much more normal than I thought (normality is a relative thing). I wasn't even going to apply before, now I'd love to go here. Fun stuff. Incidentally, I've learned that laundry is easier to do than it seems - but harder to do well than I've imagined.

Finally, I've played around 2 hours of video games this whole summer. I usually play twice that amount every week. It's interesting how I just dropped them so quickly when I had so much other stuff to do. Visiting Aditi, working on assignments, writing my paper - video games can't really compete right now.

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### College Musings

The other schools also seem really nice, very down-to-earth in a way few Ivy League schools are. Let's not kid - I'd rather go to Harvard than Ohio State - but it wouldn't be bad to go to any of these places. Especially since oppotunities are wherever you care to look. There's always a way to get working on something cool.

The one thing that really irks me about these applications is the fees. I'm going to end up spending ~\$500 just applying to these places. College is expensive.

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I thought it would be nice to kick this thing off with yet another declaration of my love for that wonderful girl. Aditi, I love you - more than I can possibly put in words. I wish I had something tender or witty to say to add to that. Oh well, I'm sure you understand.

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