Posts tagged ‘numbers’

The chestnut question

November 25th, 2008

During wintertime, sometime from October to March, so-called “Maronibrater” offer roasted Maroni (Sweet Chestnuts) everywhere here in Vienna (and in most other larger European towns). I am very lucky that one of the best roasters in town happens to have his stall around the corner from where I live. If you are in Vienna I highly recommend to go to Rochusmarkt in the 3rd district and to try for yourself. Achmed’s stall is at the start of Sechskr├╝gelgasse, next to the Rochuskirche.

The prices for chestnuts are 1.5 Euro for 7 pieces, 2 for 10, and 3 for 16. Often when someone asks for 7 chestnuts Achmed answers with a question like this: “Seven. Do you want exactly seven?”

When I am there, having my chitchat with Achmed, eating chestnuts, Langos (another delicious specialty), and eventually drinking an Arabian coffee (though, available only for regular customers, I am afraid;) it baffles me again and yet again how many people answer his question with

“Yes, please. Exactly seven.”

Lying with numbers

November 24th, 2008

99% of all numbers provided to support an argument — be it in scientific or popular media — have no value whatsoever unless they come with proper mention of at least the confidence intervals, the size of the sample and its properties, or other means of making reliability comparable such as standard deviation.

[w] [w] [w]

You are 93.9% less likely to die from a meteor landing on your head if you keep reading this blog

November 23rd, 2008

I guess I do have a somewhat weird sense of humor. Anyway, as the headline already suggests, this is serious matter. Your very health is at stake. Not just science.

You are 80% less likely to die from a meteor landing on your head if you wear a bicycle helmet all day, by Ben Goldrace, Bad Science blog, 2008-11-15

And, yes, this great posting had me laughing from the headline to the end :D
Thanks, Ben.

Perception of order

February 7th, 2007

At several occasions, Heinz von Foerster presented a numerical sequence which, in a modesty, I shall call “Heinz von Foerster’s sequence”. Given the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3 … up to 9 how would you complete the following ordered sequence:

8 — 5 — 4 — 9 — 1 — …

If you prefer to read about the riddle in detail have a look into Heinz von Foerster’s article “Perception of the future and the future of perception” published in Instructional Science 1 (1972) 2: p31-43.

Here is a variant of “Heinz von Foerster’s sequence”, again for numbers 0 to 9:

8 — 3 — 1 — 5 — 9 — …

No exit

May 13th, 2006

It was forbidden.
It could not be avoided.
The observing system looked at any construction from outside and
Remade it anew.
The building was never completed.
Eternity did not submit to construction.
There was no exit except in silence.

Louis H. Kauffman: What is a number?
Cybernetics & Systems (1999) 30: 113-.