Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview with Archimedes

Tammy: Hello folks! Welcome to The Past Times. Today we have the brilliant thinker Archimedes, who has written several thought provoking books on math.

Archimedes: and variations on the subject

Tammy: Yet you never traveled from your hometown …

Archimedes: Except for when I went to Alexandria. I often thought about going back, but I never did.

Tammy: Why not?

Archimedes: I found that my own city needed me more.

Tammy: What sort of things did you do there?

Archimedes: Well, we were at war, so I built war machines. They were various types of catapults that could throw stones much larger than others that had been made before.

Tammy: Who were you at war with?

Archimedes: Rome.

Tammy: Tell me about your early life.

Archimedes: There isn’t much to say. My father was Phidias the astronomer, and I grew up like just about any other boy in Syracuse.

Tammy: Your home city?

Archimedes: yes.

Tammy: I heard somewhere that you were a favorite with the king in that city.

Archimedes: No, the Tyrant, King Hiero. I solved many a knotty problem for him.

Tammy: Like what?

Archimedes: One time he had had a solid gold crown made, but it didn’t seem to weigh enough. He had it weighed and it was the same weight as the original piece he had given the goldsmith, but it seemed to be too big. The only he could account for it was if the goldsmith had mixed the gold with silver.

Tammy: Because silver is lighter than gold?

Archimedes: Yes. But he couldn’t be sure. So he sent for me. I didn’t want to come. I was already on a very interesting problem. Hiero persisted and I finally reluctantly came. The crown proved to be one of my more interesting problems.

Tammy: Did you solve it?

Archimedes: It took a long time. I sat and looked at it for days on end. If it hadn’t of been for my slaves I never would of figured it out.

Tammy: How’d they help?

Archimedes: Whenever I got really involved with solving a problem, I ignore everything. I even forgot to eat and bathe. They’d bring me food to eat, so I didn’t starve, but I would get very dirty. When that happened, they would pick me up and, despite my screaming and kicking, carry me to the public baths. This time the bath master filled the tub almost to overflowing. Then they tossed me in.

Tammy: And water spilled out?

Archimedes: Exactly. I thought to myself, If water spills out when I get in, maybe it takes up the same amount of space as I do, and if the amount— I jumped out of the tub and ran back home, yelling, “Eureka!” which means “I have found it”

Tammy: Was it pure gold?

Archimedes: Nope. It took up more room than the piece of gold I had borrowed that was the same size as the original piece.

Tammy: I see. But I learned that back in high school geometry!

Archimedes: Yes, thanks to me.

Tammy: I heard that you once pulled a boat one-handed.

Archimedes: I did. And were I to have but another earth to stand on I could move this earth itself! It’s simple really; all I needed were pulleys and screws.

Tammy: Amazing!

Archimedes: Hiero thought sure so. After that event, he always had me solve all his difficult problems.

Tammy: Like the crown?

Archimedes: Exactly.

Tammy: Any other times you helped him?

Archimedes: I defended the city for him.

Tammy: How’d you do that?

Archimedes: With math.

Tammy: would you mind explaining?

Archimedes: Not at all, I designed several different types of machines and Hiero had them built and men trained to run them. The attack didn’t occur in his lifetime, but when it did, we were ready.

Tammy: What kinds of machines were there?

Archimedes: Rock catapults, arrow catapults, boat grabbers, mirrors… stuff like that.

Tammy: mirrors?

Archimedes: I made some with a curve that was just the right angle to focus the sun’s rays in one point in such a way that the object focused on melts or bursts into flames.

Tammy: That’s – amazing.

Archimedes: It’s just math. Anybody could figure it out.

Tammy: If they work at it. You do it seemingly effortlessly.

Archimedes: I don’t exactly figure things in five seconds though

Tammy: You find some things we can’t even fathom simple

Archimedes: You don’t think hard enough.

Tammy: Let’s not argue.

Archimedes: Anything else you would like to know?

Tammy: Yes, I heard that you were killed because of math.

Archimedes: Yes, when Syracuse was finally conquered, the Roman leader told his men that he wanted me brought to him alive, because he wanted to talk to me. I was working on an interesting problem at that point and didn’t want to go anywhere. The soldier who found me just laughed and stood on my work. I got mad and stabbed him with my drawing stylus. He got mad and ran me through with his sword.

Tammy: What did the Roman leader do?

Archimedes: had the soldier killed as a common murderer and me buried with highest honors. On my grave stone, he had the figure of a sphere inside a cube engraved.

Tammy: Why?

Archimedes: I always considered that my most important achievement and had asked for it to placed there.

Tammy: Well, that’s about all the time we have for today. Thank-you Archimedes for being with us today. I’m Tammy Turnback and this has been The Past Times.

Written 11/20/2009

Monday, August 1, 2011

How Can I be less Wasteful

Your toy breaks. What do you do? You throw it in the trash. You don’t like supper. What do you do? You throw it in the trash. You leave the water running while you brush your teeth. You let things pile up and get destroyed rather than let someone who needs it and will take care of it have it. All this is wasteful.

So how can I avoid a wasteful lifestyle. Indeed, I have been guilty of everything I just listed. So how can I not be wasteful? Should I just kill myself because I’m a parasite to the world? Or is there a less dramatic way?

First of all, when a toy breaks, I can try and figure out a way to fix it. If I cannot, then I can try and see if anyone else can fix it. If no one can fix it, I can try and figure out if I can use the pieces to make something else. If I cannot reuse it, then I can see if it is recyclable. If it is, then I can recycle it. If not, then and only then I can throw it away. Unfortunately, it is very hard for us to recycle where I live.

I can bag aluminum cans to be taken away to be recycled, but we don’t use to many aluminum cans anymore.

I could give away toys I don’t use to kids who’ll play with them.

I could turn off the water when I brush my teeth … wait, I already do.

I could make sure we eat all the leftovers that go into the refrigerator. Even if they taste nasty and bleh. I can put them all in a stew, re-season them and make them taste good. I can make sure the salad supplies are all used up before they go bad.

I can plant my own garden so that the vegetables are fresh as long as possible. I just have to make sure that I don’t water them too much and waste water. I also would need to make sure that I use the food I grow, and especially make sure that insects don’t get the food I grow first.

I can turn off lights when I leave the room. That’s something I really need to work on. I can also make sure that the door is locked behind me when I leave. That’s to keep my little sister safe.

I can pick up trash along the road.

It is very hard to find people to take second hand things, though. This is sad. Why do Americans think that everything has to be new? This is wasteful. It’s also a reason that other people hoard, which is also wasteful, because they are willing to take the used and aren’t willing to let it go to people who’d just throw it away.

Sigh. It’s a sad, sad world we live in.

But, all in all there is a lot I can do. I just need to do it.

How Selfishness Leads to Waste

There is a television series called Hoarding: Buried Alive. In each episode, a person with hoarding issues is helped to overcome their hoarding. Hoarders are people who collect things - anything - but to the extent that all the stuff they collect piles up in their house and a great deal of it is destroyed.

Hoarding often springs from emotional issues - but it almost always boils down to selfishness. The person, in their childhood, was denied something, and now that they’re adults, they can’t get rid of anything because of that. Other times, it begins when they loose someone they love, and because they couldn’t hold on to the person, they hold on to stuff.

But it still almost always boils down to selfishness. Because they were denied something, they want everything now. Because they want everything, the stuff they have never leaves their house. Things get buried and eventually they are worthless. What they attempted to save, they are destroying and wasting. Often they hold onto trash!

Quite often roaches, mice and rats get into their house and destroy what’s at the bottom of the piles. That’s wasteful.

People who hoard are don’t want to let go of what they have. They’d rather it fall to waste than it leave their house and find a new home and get taken care of. It’s a very confusing mentality, though there are few who don’t suffer to a degree. People who can’t get rid of stuff are selfish.

Oh, they have reasons. They don’t want someone else to have it because that person might throw it away or break it. What they don’t realize is that they’re ruining it, which is just as bad - or worse, because there was also a good chance that that someone would have loved and kept it in wonderful condition. But, through hoarding, this chance was denied.

It’s the “I don’t want to share my things” attitude. And while there is the principle of ownership and one shouldn’t be forced to share anything they don’t want to share, one shouldn’t keep things they aren’t using and will never use. Some people save things for emotional reasons, and while that is okay to an extent - keeping too much for that reason is not.

Saving stuff you can use later and stuff that really means something to you is one thing - saving things you’ll never use and that you attach some ambiguous attachment is not. Remember - you don’t have to keep things just so you don’t offend someone. Most people be much more offended by your impenetrable house than by your getting rid of something they gave you.

And if they don’t - they have serious selfishness issues!

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