Monday, March 29, 2010

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Mouse: Nonstandard Systems Part 2

Oh boy! More nonstandard systems! I bet everyone is excited. I am going to go on about nonstandard measurement systems now.

I started thinking about this while reading The Poetics of Military Occupation, by Smadar Lavie (which, by the way, I highly recommend). The book is an ethnography written by an Israeli woman about the Sinai Bedouins, and does not have much to do, as a whole, with what I am here to consider, but this passage that caught my eye:
"She was silent. He was silent. They remained wrapped in their own silences for about an hour, until ants began to crawl into the anthropologist's brain. She was getting fidgety. She sketched one camel after another in her notebook, retied her headdress, scratched her knee, poked her ear, drew more camels." (page 166)
While I could go on an entirely different rant about how much I love her writing and the merits of a narrative voice in ethnography, I will refrain. Although I do love a narrative voice in ethnography. Instead, I will go on a rant about measuring things using other, unrelated things.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I have done a redesign! And by redesign I mean I picket a new blogger template, because I am industrious like that. 

But I did design an op amp for the occasion, so I hope I get a little credit. 

Also, since I have now transitioned from teenager to crone, I made the font bigger so I won't have to squint through my glasses and wave my cane around to read what I write. But mostly just made everything sort of grey. I guess that is an improvement?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Mouse: Nonstandard Systems

And idle I am - it is spring break. Without the distraction of school, two things are catching my interest right now: nonstandard numbering systems and nonstandard measuring systems.

Numbering systems, as we usually think about them, have a fixed base (b) that is raised to an integer exponent (x) that varies by increments of one. That made sense in my head. The point is, numbering systems tend to be regular and predictable. Each place value is determined by f(x)=b^x.

This gets a little bit strange when the base isn't a positive integer. Think about base pi; it isn't as complicated as it sounds, I promise. Pi^0 is 1, pi^1 is pi, pi^2 is... um, pi^2. Compare it to decimal:

Decimal: 10^2=100, 10^1=10, 10^0=1
Pi: pi^2=pi^2, pi^1=pi, pi^0=1

The exact same pattern. It is going to have a whole different set of irrational numbers of course, but this happens to some degree with any change of base (the only base with no irrational numbers, I suspect, is infinite). Now, examples: (after the jump)

Friday, March 12, 2010


Definitely time to start moderating comments! Spamspamspam. Also maybe when this quarter ends I can finish up a few projects that have been sitting in my sewing cupboard.

I am in fact still making things! Just a lot of those things happen to be homework assignments and labs. But I now have a quarters worth of electrical engineering-based ideas, so maybe there will be circuits! Everyone likes circuits.

Maybe I will even do a layout redesign when I get some more free time. All very exciting. I am sure you are excited, barely able to contain yourself.