Category: Nature and universe

So you may be wondering what makes the number e so special. Well, e is the only number where the result of the function e to the power of x remains unchanged as you calculate its derivative, and the derivative of the derivative of that, the derivative of the derivative of the derivative of that, indefinitely.

Taking the function f(x) = power(e, x) that raises e to the power of x, d/dx of f(x) = f(x) for (d/dx)(d/dx) ... (d/dx). You can plot the value of x to measure the distance traveled, the tangent of the change of distance (velocity) and the tangent of the change of the velocity (acceleration), ad infinitum. Lo and behold, the value of the tangent will always be the same, that is it will remain equal to e to the power of x.

For me this rates high on my list as one of the most amazing insights of mathematics, as it applies to nature and the universe. The number e forms a fundamental concept in physics and appears endlessly in most of literature, especially quantum physics.

You might also be interested (but have probably guessed already) to know that the number e is an irrational number, meaning that there are no two integers p and q where p/q = e.

For those interested, please see: A proof that e is irrational.

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Jupiter and Saturn are almost kissing.

They use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of Jupiter and Saturn, which are the two biggest worlds in our solar system. Though the two planets will appear spectacularly close together on the sky's dome now, Jupiter and Saturn are actually 456 million miles apart.

That's no less than 734 million kilometers which is pretty far. How far is that really? Let's say that you get in your car and drive at an average speed of 120 kilometers an hour non stop.

Better bring alot of food and some extra clothing just in case, because your trip will last a long time, namely 254861 days or nearly 700 years. Hopefully we can find enough gas stations along the way.

In Holst's masterpiece orchestral suite The Planets, one movement is dedicated to Jupiter the "bringer of jollity" and another movement to Saturn the "bringer of old age."

That's from Roman mythology. In Greek mythology Jupiter is called Zeus, the god of the sky, lightning and thunder, and ruler of all the gods on Mount Olympus. Saturn on the other hand comes from the Titan Cronus, who was known as the god of time.

If I had to choose which god I would like to be I think that I would choose Chronus over Zeus any day.

Modern and environmentally friendly, that's what we have become. Today the people came and installed our new zonnepanelen, which has become quite the rage in The Netherlands. In total twelve panels pointed at the sun. Not a bad deal, partially subsidized by the government, and even pays for itself back within a few years.

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"It's as if I'm being prepared for something, some other adventure, which is over the hill. I've got all this stuff to lose first, and then I'll be at the shadowy side of the hill doing the next episode in the spirit world."

Billy Connolly

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Took a long and leisurely Sunday walk this afternoon, and this is what I saw along the way.

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Beware of falling trees, traffic signs flying around and other dangerous debris which could end your life in an instant. It's getting pretty blustery out there so be careful.

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Mathematical algorithms are nature's way of communicated with our simple minds, offering the astute observer unique insights into the world around us, even when it means scraping off the ice from our windshields during a last minute rush.

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An hour or so ago they sent out a code orange. This warning means that the weather will become very severe and we should all stay indoors where it is supposedly safe. At first I didn't believe them, what do they know? The weather outside seemed just fine to me. Well, an hour later and the deluge is here with lots and lots of lightning bolts striking nearby. Boom! That was sure close. Almost too worrisome seeing such a gush of water being spilled out from the darkened sky. The backyard and the streets are flooding over. Yipes! Mother nature can be unpredictable and needs to be respected and/or worshiped at all times. Either that or else.

Excuse me, can someone out there please tell me what this is all about?

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Thanks alot in advance.

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This is what I saw through the windshield when I got into my car to head off to an early morning round of golf.

I was so struck by the beauty of the colors and the way the sunshine danced across the thin layer of ice that I had to take a picture of it.

One could almost say that it's a true masterpiece of art and sell the painting for millions of dollars.

However, we all know that the beauty of nature is priceless and no amount of money can ever do it justice. Just appreciate the fleeting moment while we can.

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During my evening walk with the dog, I was struck by how unusually beautiful and serene the moon appeared in the freezing cold winter night sky. I attempted to capture the scene by snapping a picture using my smartphone, but this fuzzy picture is all that I could manage. Use some extra imagination, look beyond the graininess, and you can sense the timeless moment.

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I gazed up into the sky. To my utter amazement, I witnessed the formation of an intricate pattern of criss-crosses all over the place. What struck me immediately was the realization that this was nothing more than a huge net created by a very powerful being. The one and only purpose was to completely capture the world, consume it in one gulp, including me. I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I would not be able to escape the inevitable. Just waiting to happen, time ticking away, no doubts about it. I accepted my fate with open arms and a smile, continuing on my merry little way.

While I slept last night it snowed like mad, just as they had predicted. When I awoke I could sense the extra weight pushing down ever so slightly on the roof of the house.

The creak of winter and an occasional layer of snow breaking off and sliding past the trees.

I looked out the window. As far as I could see in every direction the world was covered by a blanket of white. The usual morning sounds were buffered by the softness of winter, no sounds at all, different muffled sounds.

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Had a long and peaceful walk through the woods today. Millions of leaves all over the place. Blue skies through the branches and wisps of white drifting up high. Colder and darker and quieter than usual. You can really feel that winter will be here before you realize it.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that today it is Luca's sixth birthday, which is forty-two in dog years. Middle-aged but still spunky and energetic.

Thea and I went into town today to buy me a new suit for work. Afterwards, we had coffee and apple pie at Cafe Central, and then we went to the local pet store to buy Luca a giant bone with juicy pieces of meat hanging off of it.

Luca was the happiest dog in the world and has been licking and chewing it for more than two hours. Too bad she got sick and threw it all up afterwards.

The road is flat and straight. Along the right side there is an endless row of trees extending to the horizon and beyond, as far as I can see. The tree trunks form parallel cylinders equally spaced in time. Nearly so that is. Every ten seconds or thereabouts there is a slight glitch in the perfect harmony of the universe. If I could predict this moment in time, I could veer my car to the right at the exact second. Just squeeze through like an arrow. Unless I started to skid sideways, I'd have to take that into consideration as well. Now that I think of it, I'd have to jerk the steering wheel sideways not at the exact second but a millisecond or two or maybe three before that exact second. According to the laws of nature, the car would contine travelling a finite extra distance before it reacted to my hands, gripped so firmly. A single drop of sweat would be sliding down my forehead and I would be able to feel it. Like an elastic cord connecting my mind to the steering wheel and then to the two trees between which I was meant to travel. That's when it would happen, in my mind, in the parallel world which never was, of which I'm not meant to be a part. Maybe next time, and then I will have to explain it slightly differently.

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Hey look, it's the first day of summer!

The so-called real world is infinitely chaotic. Yet we are driven by a never-ending struggle to try and discover some facsimile of structure. No matter how fleeting and nebulous it first appears, and then it disappears in a blink of the eye.

There it is over there. No I guess not, where did it go? Over there again ...

Rather than accept the chaotic nature that surrounds us, there is some inner instinct that refuses to let us be consumed by it. Stay alive or end up dying.

It's that will to survive which all living things share that drives us on and on and on. We the many human beings that wander aimlessly across the earth are lucky because we are conscious of this dichotomy.

Try and understand things. Things that were never intended to be understood in the first place. Get confused for a second and then understand them again.

We can understand or at least we can think that we understand, which seem different but are exactly the same thing.

This afternoon I look out of my upstairs window, and I am confronted by a mysterious formation of clouds with purple lining dashed against a dark blue sky.

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What is nature trying to tell us?

One's first impression might be that this is an ominous foreboding of a cruel winter to come, as this has been predicted in the papers during the last week. Supposedly this time around the winter will be a severely cold and challenging climate.

I prefer to remain positive and consider this awesome window view as a friendly farewell from nature. Let's acknowledge her kind gesture of thanks, there she is urging us to look forward to the return of next years sunny and warm climate.

Just hang in there is all.

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We had some pretty heavy snowfall during the night.

There's not a single cloud in the sky and it is perfectly blue. Nor is there a single contrail to be seen anywhere. This is indeed a very rare sight to experience, when the sky is normally criss-crossed by hundreds of fresh and fading airline streaks of vaporized air.

The sky seems so peaceful, but scary at the same time, making you feel religious just in case something foreboding is about to occur.

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Viewing such tranquility, it is hard to imagine that no more than a couple thousand kilometers to the west there are violent eruptions spewing millions of tons of ash and rock into the sky. Is it ready to blow up?

The previous time the same volcano was so active almost two hundred years ago, it lasted more than a year. So we should prepare ourselves for a long haul I'm afraid. Just hope that none of that ash falls down here.

As we grow older we acquire certain insights into the way we are and our true relationship with the world which surrounds us.

In some ways this can be quite confrontational. Rather than fighting the truth it is more worthwhile to let it flow over you, like a series of waves splashing on the beach.

In other ways this realization can energize and give one a more powerful push in newer and more exciting directions.

While relaxing on the rubber raft a hundred or so feet from the beach, I can still hear those waves splashing in soothing, musical regularity. A distant drumming sound coming closer and closer.

I will open my eyes later when the time is ready.

My dog Luca loves to roll around on top of dead animals.

Take for example the days we walk along the waterway where a bunch of fishers have been spending the day.

Luca will sniff out the residue and if she's lucky she'll spot some dead fish which has been gutted and whose bones and scales have been left their in the sun to rot away.

Before I notice and can do anything about it, there she is rolling around upside down on top of the dead fish rubbing her back into it with much delight and wiggling.

The problem is that even though I wash her down when we get back home, the house stinks like a dead fish for a couple days.

They claim that this is normal dog behavior, a kind of instinct or throwback from the early days of wild dogs before they were domesticated. In order to survive, they would need to stalk and kill prey. In order to hide their own scent, they would roll around in many disgusting substances so that they could approach their prey undetected.

This sound kind of silly and I'm not so sure I believe it.

Why Dogs Love to Roll in Smelly Stuff
Today the weather was so nice that I decided to take Luca on a long and relaxing walk along the Reeuwijkse Plassen.

Just when I was ready to hop in the car, Sabien came downstairs with a sneaky smile on her face and asked:

"What's it like to take Luca on a walk now when in the beginning you really didn't want to have a dog in the house?"

A couple hours later, I returned home with my pants and coat splattered with mud, and I took Luca back to spray her down with the hose.
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Luca just loves it when we take her to the Reeuwijkse Plassen and she never seems to tire of fetching the yellow tennis ball no matter how far we throw it into the distance, again and again and again.
This morning while cycling to the train station, I was treated with an amazing landscape of frozen solitude and extreme whiteness. Everywhere I looked it, was completely silent. I couldn't even here myself cycling. The plants and trees were frozen solid and light scattered from there shiny surfaces with an eerie anticipation.
Fall is nice when it comes to the transition of seasons, the trees losing their leaves, the air becoming colder, the late afternoons getting darker along with the prolonging of shadows and the sun setting low on the horizon.

For the avid golfer, this subtle change of nature can become a bit of a disaster. There are so many leaves lying on the ground, that it is very easy to lose a golf ball here and there.

Even the finest drive hit smack down the middle of the fairway runs the risk of rolling and stopping right under a large brownish leave that happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Good-bye golf ball, no hope ever finding you again unless I just happen to peak under the right leave, one chance in a thousand maybe even a million, it's hard to say exactly.

Sometimes one of those green-keepers comes along with his giant leaf blower which slightly alleviates this aggravation, but only as long as you keep the ball on the fairway.

The slightest fade or draw causes the ball to bounce and disappear into one of those massive piles of leaves, half a foot deep and spanning tens of meters of a crumpled brown expanse.

Also the fall means that the sun is lower on the horizon, and more than one longish par four poses quite a challenge pointing you directly into the sunlight. You hit the ball just fine, or so it felt like it, but where did the ball land exactly? Much to my surprise there it is right next to the flag, buried in the bunker, over there behind a tree, or never to be found again.

The game of golf remains a true and honorable challenge despite the different ways that nature tries to make life more difficult.

See also Autumn Rules for an entertaining account about bazillions of leaves.
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Early every morning just before the sun comes out and the ground is still moist, droves of slugs make a heroic attempt to cross the narrow bike path.

To the human eye this path is about two meters wide, just wide enough for two bikes to pass each other, but for the average slug it's more likely something nearer to two football fields long.

Nature calls and the many slugs leave the comforts of the tall grass in pursuit of something better. What this might be no one is sure.

Unfortunately, many do not survive this noble adventure, their meager lives smashed in an instant underneath the massive tires of the randomly passing bicyclists.

This slug makes it across without any problems, that slug barely misses the giant tire and manages to slip by the last few centimeters, and fate calls the shots as yet another slug gets splattered before it can even perceive what life might be like on the other side.

Like dead soldiers strewn across a disheartening battlefield, the squashed slugs are scattered as far as the eye can see.

What unearthly battle could create so many innocent victims?

Slowly but surely it is getting darker, the moment I wake up and have to cycle to town, time to think differently, moving through the darkness as it approaches and envelops me, and then what? We will have to see.

As it turns out, the Magellanic Clouds are first-time visitors.

I never could have expected that at all. For more than hundreds of years, it has been accepted as common knowledge that these wonderful celestial bodies were nothing more than natural extensions of the home galaxy in which we live.

Almost human thoughts that we could nearly grasp here and now.

Beliefs can be easily shattered by the endless stream of sterile measurements and calculations of science, in its pursuit of acquiring more accurate knowledge of the universe and thereby risking that we slowly but surely dehumanize mother nature.

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Information

This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2432 entries and as many as 1877 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

My mother passed away 3-27-2018 ago.

Started Gishtech 04-25-2016 ago.