Friday, December 16, 2005

Self-Referential Beauties

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about this puzzle.

In this sentence the number of occurrences of 0 is ____, of 1 is ____, of 2 is ____, of 3 is ____, of 4 is ____, of 5 is ____, of 6 is ____, of 7 is ____, of 8 is ____ and of 9 is ____.

The goal is to fill out the blanks with digits that make the sentence correct. There are two answers -- one is reasonably challenging and one is super clever (I'll post answers in a few days).

But recently, I came across this amazing text. Like a beautiful Escher painting, the following self-referential text is an absolute beauty:

* Write down ten `a's, eight `c's, ten `d's, fifty-two `e's, thirty eight `f's, sixteen `g's, thirty `h's, forty-eight `i's, six `l's, four `m's, thirty-two `n's, forty-four `o's, four `p's, four `q's, forty-two `r's, eighty-four `s's, seventy six `t's, twenty-eight `u's, four `v's, four `W's, eighteen `w's, fourteen `x's, thirty-two `y's, four `:'s, four `*'s, twenty-six `-'s, fifty-eight `,'s sixty "'s and sixty `"s,

in a palindromic sequence whose second half runs thus


suht snur flah dnoces esohw ecneuqes cimordnilap a ni

,s"` ytxis dna s'" ytxis s',` thgie-ytfif ,s'-` xis-ytnewt ,s'*` ruof ,s':` ruof ,s'y` owt-ytriht ,s'x` neetruof ,s'w` neethgie ,s'W` ruof ,s'v` ruof ,s'u` thgie-ytnewt ,s't` xis ytneves ,s's` ruof-ythgie ,s'r` owt-ytrof ,s'q` ruof ,s'p` ruof ,s'o` ruof-ytrof ,s'n` owt-ytriht ,s'm` ruof ,s'l` xis ,s'i` thgie-ytrof ,s'h` ytriht ,s'g` neetxis ,s'f` thgie-ytriht ,s'e` owt-ytfif ,s'd` net ,s'c` thgie ,s'a` net nwod etirW *

This is simply amazing! I wonder if it's possible to construct such a sentence in other languages too. I guess I really sound like a geek.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Great Book

When I first started reading the Wisdoms of the Crowd, I thought, here we go again -- yet another book, like Blinks or The Tipping Point, about some interesting phenomenon, but one that does warrant an entire book! But this book was different. It covered more concepts and theory. It talks about how a crowd can make better decisions than very smart individuals and talks about lots of situations and applications (stock market, traffic, sports, scientific community, corporations, government, etc). The book is really interesting and it's probably one of the best books I've read in a couple of years. I'm not going to write details as there are already a ton of reviews on the web.

To find out what I really think about Blinks, read this funny blog.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Interesting News

Read about my little Googlewhack Adventure on our official team blog.