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mr_bean (3802)

mr_bean
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Journal of mr_bean (3802)

Thursday March 31, 2005
09:57 PM

Sam Vilain at YAPC::Taipei

[ #23963 ]
I expected him to be a swarthy man, but knowing he was in New Zealand, guessed this fair-haired guy with dreadlocks and a hobbit hat was Sam Vilain. The name, mugwump apparently comes from William S Burroughs.

At Ingy's birthday party, one of the Chinese hackers noted that the next birthday Ingy would have with a full moon would be 19 years from now, perhaps something every Chinese person knows, I don't know.

This lead to a discussion by mugwump with me about the lunar calendar. I said the idea of planting crops according to it meant that it could vary by a month, according to the solar calendar.

He started discussing the ideas of a New Zealand mathematician on 19-year cycles in the weather, as a result of the effect of the moon. He said the mass of the moon was one tenth of that of the earth and the gravitational pull on the earth from the moon was greater than that of the sun.

I couldn't accept that at the time, but thinking about variations over the short-term in the stress placed on the earth, then the effect of the moon would certainly be greater than that of the sun.

And if the moon moves the water round in the form of tides, then it must be moving the air around too.

He noted that there had been an earthquake in the same area as the recent tsunami, in the Indian Ocean, in 1833. I started thinking how many years that is. Is it really a multiple of 19?

He said that someone from the New Zealand Weather Bureau had spoken against the theory, claiming the Butterfly Effect meant that such cycles were not possible. I agreed with him that the Butterfly Effect was only an explanation of the absence of cycles, rather than one of why it was not possible to have cycles.

I realized that although he may be mad, there was method to his madness.

He talked a little about subatomic particles, before starting to talk about Chinese and Western medicine. He said the difference was like that between tuning a car, and taking the engine apart and cleaning out the cylinders.

He asked me whether I went to an acupuncturist or Western doctor. At this point I started backing away.

I asked him to say a little about Tangram. He said, it is a relational database. But then he said it isn't. I feared for his presentation the next day.

He repeated that in the conference the next day, but it was a great presentation. He reminded me of a popular Scottish conference presenter in Korea, and I wondered if it was a British academic presentation style. I think it was partly because he smiled a lot, knew the subject well (apparently his dad worked on databases also at Unisys), and was relaxed and confident.

Although the organizers weren't too happy about him going overtime. I think they had taken note of mjd's claim that most conference participants attend for the food.

Certainly the food at the conference was very good. In Korea, they say, Chinese food, a Japanese wife, and an American home.

Afterwards he told me about junctions in perl6 allowing you to do logical programming eg, if any of A, B, or C is true, do X. This allowed him to write perl6 code to solve the SEND+MORE=MONEY puzzle in just a few lines.

But he showed me SQL is even quicker at solving the puzzle and that this is because it was designed to do just that: model set-theoretic relationships.
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  • The mathematician is Ken Ring - his site is at http://www.predictweather.com/ [predictweather.com], and he mentioned the 1833 earthquake in his December 29, 2004 e-zine [topica.com]. 1833 + 19 * 9 is indeed 2004.

    Turns out I misinterpreted what Ken said... the moon is actually 1/80th the mass of the earth, not 1 tenth, and the gravitation effect thing is a net measurement of the effects on the ocean. The reasoning is that because the tides are predominantly affected by the moon and not the Sun, that the net force created by the moon must

    • s/(100th the size of the tide from the) sun/$1 moon/
      • You mean?

              the sun exerts about 100 times the gravitational
              force compared with the moon. Yet we do not see
              a solar tide 100 times the size of the tide
              from the moon.

        The solar tide is what we see with spring and
        neap tides, I think. Spring tides are higher and
        lower than neap tides, because the moon is new or
        full.

        But how do we separate out the variation in water
        movement due to the moon and that due to the sun?

        Some places on