b r a c k e t
b r a c k e t
A column of sorts by
Paul Smedberg

There is a very good saying that if triangles invented a god, they would make him three-sided.
--Baron de Montesquieu

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
--Umberto Eco

A mathemetician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there.
--Charles Darwin

I knew a mathemetician who said, 'I do not know as much as God, but I know as much as God did at my age.'
--Milton Shulman

All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.
--Ambrose Bierce

An intellectual is a man who doesn't know how to park a bike.
--Spiro Agnew

Human development has two stages: in the first we think about things; in the second we begin to think about thinking. When we recognize that what we perceive is a representation of reality that could differ from it in essential ways we have invented philosophy.
--John D. Barrow

Above quotes lifted from Pi in the Sky by John D. Barrow, Oxford University Press, 1992

He can't change himself.
Wrote Thomas Aquinas of God.

He can't forget anything, commit sins, and, according to St. Thomas, he can't make the sum of the internal angles of a triangle add up to more than two right angles.

Well why not?

Why are the gravitational constant, the speed of light, and all the other constants . . . why are they constant? Why not some other number? Why don't they move around? Would we all be a little taller, a little thinner, maybe even a little richer if the gravitational constant were a wee tad less?

Why is Pi 3.1415926535 . . . Why not, oh, say, about four-and-a-half?

What would plants look like if Pi were about four-and-a-half?

It's about time for science to get up off its soft fat BEE-hind and ask some really mind-bending questions. Quit whining about the easy stuff. Let's get to the crux of the biscuit.

Sometimes asking the right question is . . . well, if not half-way toward a solution, maybe 15% of the way.

Here's an interesting FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) from the Mahabharata. Written in sanscrit in India between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D., it is the world's longest poem, with 90,000 couplets.

To see the answers to each question, highlight the text following the word "Answer" with your mouse-cursor.

    Question: What is quicker than the wind?

    Answer: Thought

    Question: What can cover the earth?

    Answer: Darkness

    Question: Who are more numerous, the living or the dead?

    Answer: The living, because the dead are no longer

    Question: Give me an example of space.

    Answer: My two hands [held together] as one

    Question: An example of grief.

    Answer: Ignorance

    Question: Of poison.

    Answer: Desire

    Question: An example of defeat.

    Answer: Victory

    Question: Which came first, day or night?

    Answer: Day, but it was only a day ahead

    Question: What is the cause of the world?

    Answer: Love

    Question: What is your opposite?

    Answer: Myself

    Question: What is madness?

    Answer: A forgoten way

    Question: Why do men revolt?

    Answer: To find beauty, either in life or in death

    Question: What, for each of us, is inevitable?

    Answer: Happiness

    Question: What is the greatest wonder?

    Answer: Each day, death strikes and we live as though we are immortal.

--Transcribed from Peter Brook's tv version of the Mahabharata which has aired on American PBS, the BBC, and probably a few other tonier networks worldwide.

Want to wander around blindly in
a neo-cubist maze of big science?
Frame from the Cyclotron Labyrinth

Ad agencies are like Cyrano
Writing love poems
for Roxanne Consumer
delivered by Christián Business.

Like Rembrandt
painting the burg(h)ers.

Industrial poets with 30 second haiku operas.


There were five of them,
five abreast going way back
into the rising sun
so I couldn't see how far back they went,
all carrying trumpets,
all marching double-time,
shaking the earth with each beat,

suddenly ripping their helmets off
and throwing them onto the road,
raising the trumpets to their lips,
then a sudden blast,
wail of all thousand horns coming in all at once,
and the sound was terrifying
and the sound was joyous
and the multitudes of horns were sounding
the arrival,
and the angels had cast down
their helmets of war
and came embracing the fallen planet,
and the dead rose up and were reconstructed,
and the multitude was singing
with the mighty horns,
each lost to himself,
yet found again,
dancing and swirling,
pulsing, endlessly streaming,
rising from the ground,
filled with vibration and light,
blinding light,
blinding white light,
whiter than any before,
whiter than white.

That's how white your clothes can get with

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