Saturday, February 02, 2008

That I am allowed to experience this!

Imagine you have missed the bus or the tramvai by a hair; and, alas, today of all days Flann O'Brien's The third Policeman is not at hand. So, what next? Boring yourself for some twenty minutes or ... rather walking to the next stop, on the risk of not walking fast enough and thus again missing the bus/tramvai?

To be on the safe side, all you need is but a bit knowledge of advanced probability and integral calculus.

Mathematicians Scott Kominers, Robert Sinnott (Harvard University) and Justin Chen (California Institute of Technology) derived a formula for the optimal time that you should wait for a tardy bus at each stop en route before giving up and walking on.

The research group found that the solution was surprisingly simple, as you will surely agree:

Now, are you grateful that you are allowed to live experiencing this magic moment, in which one of the last most brainteasing and riddling conundrums of all mysteriously puzzling enigmata has been solved, or are are you grateful to live experiencing this magic moment, in which one of the last most brainteasing and riddling conundrums of all mysteriously puzzling enigmata has been solved?

I thought so.

And now you'd like to get closer to the essential inheritent interior essence which is hidden in the root of the kernel of everything?

I thought so.

Here you are.

And here one anticipatory reaction:

'Science knows only one commandment: contribute to science.'
Bertold Brecht, Galileo, 1943

And one reactionary anticipation:

'The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star.'
Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste, 1825

In case you miss it, I can't serve you with a quotation from Tetrapilotomos. He'd not be amused if I disturbed
Calvagh O'Seanacháin and him while celebrating the 126th anniversary of their friend's birthday.


Ah, yes, of course, it's James Joyce.


  1. Fermat's last theorum was solved in a similar way, I think.

  2. How long would I wait for a tardy bus? - Do that every day in Sicily and the answer is when I think, "I could have walked it by now", I start doing just that - walking! Love the Brillat-Savarin quote.

  3. Fascinating stuff, Sean, and two excellent quotes. Sadly I would like to take issue with you over one point: being without your copy of the Third Policeman????

    Ah I see, you had a the Dalkey Archive or At Swim Two Brids with you instead!

    btw if I haven't mentioned it have you come across the marvellous adiobook version of the Third Policeman? The narrator, Jim Norton, really brings the characters alive

  4. Now this is an amazingly important breakthrough. I'll comment at my place tomorrow morning - not wanting to interrupt those girls today.

  5. Crushed:
    Did you happen to read 'Fermat's Last Theorem' by Simon Singh? I wish teachers were able - like Singh - to bring across the fascination of mathematics to their pupils.

    Now shall I walk
    or shall I ride?
    'Ride,' Pleasure said:
    'Walk,' Joy replied.
    [W.H. Davies]

    glad you like it.
    As for the Third Policeman: I did just try to find the worst which could happen once you miss a bus. :)
    But, well, as long as you have one of the other works at hand, it won't be as horrible.

    As for Jim Norton reading 'The third policeman': It's added to my wishlist. Thanks for the tip.


    Proof: Girls are good:

    First we state that girls require time and money :-

    Girls = Time x Money

    And we know that time is money :-

    Time = Money

    Therefore :-

    Girls = Money x Money

    Girls = (Money)^2

    And because 'money is the root of all evil'

    Girls = (Evil)^1/2 x (Evil)^1/2

    But evil is negative, and hence

    Multiplying the two imaginaries gives -Evil,

    which is of course GOOD!


  6. Sean, as well as being a walking Bartlett's you are a "mathematician".
    Girls are indeed good. But women are better.

  7. jmb:
    the proof was for the good, not for the better.
    Of course, your are right. :)