## Thursday, March 17, 2011

### Mathematically Proven Fact: Accelerate While Turning

Today I was chit chatting with my mentor about curvature and other differential-geometry-related shtuff, when she told me a most surprising fact. Unfortunately I can not explain it without relying on abstract mathematical concepts, because I myself can only understand it in those terms. It's really counterintuitive. Imagine you're driving on an exit ramp (or any any curved road for that matter). You want your acceleration vectors to point towards where you want your car to go, which in this case would be centripetally, towards the center of the circle in which you're driving. If you speed up, the acceleration vector gets longer, and pushes you more strongly to the center. If you decelerate, however, your acceleration vectors point backwards, away from where you want to go, so your car starts to skid. Of course it's good to slow down before making a turn. But once you start turning, you want to speed up. I'm talking nonsense? Well, that's what SHE said.

To understand this, do the following experiment:
Take a deep breath.
Pretend you're in a car.
You're driving down the highway.
You approach a curve in the road.
You head straight into the curve.
Oh no! You're going to fast! You gently push the break.
Visualize it.
What do you feel happening?
I feel the tail of car swerving off the road.

Now let's try this again.
Pretend you're in a car.
You're driving down the highway.
You approach a curve in the road.
You head straight into the curve.
As you start curving, you press the accelerator.
Visualize it.
What do you feel happening?
I feel the car griping the road.

These thought experiments are really worthless. It's possible that the reason I connect decelerating with losing control is because I usually slow down only if I'm going too fast to begin with. And I connect accelerating with control because I usually accelerate only if I started off at a slow enough speed. It's a shame she didn't tell me about this when I met with her last Wednesday. That way I could have experimented when I drove to Pittsburgh last Thrusday. All my passengers were screaming that I drive too fast. Wouldn't they love it if I told them that taking curves fast is safer? And then proceeded to demonstrate it experimentally?

But the bottom line is: you should definitely slow down before the curve. And if you are pulled over for speeding through a curve, explain to the cop that if you would have slowed down, you would have skidded off the road. Then pull out a pad and draw the acceleration vectors. The cop should excuse you, because math never lies.

## Saturday, March 5, 2011

### I'm Proud to be an American / At Least Phelps is Free

Isn't it neat that the John Galliano thing happened within a few days of the Snyder v. Phelps verdict? Where would you rather be? In France where you can be locked up for calling someone a fucking kike, or the U.S.A., where you you can tell grieving parents that god hates them and their recently killed son is in Hell.

I choose the latter. I'm proud of my right to be rude. The First Amendment tells us, "You guys are big boys and girls. As long as nobody is physically hurting anyone else, I trust you to fight it out between yourselves."

But even in America, Land of the Free and Home of the KKK, people on their own are forcing this you-can't-offend-anybody pussiness on others. Recently an anti-abortion group put up an ad drawing attention to the prevalence of abortion among Niggers (Yes! This is America! That word is still legal!)
You don't like it? Big deal. Pro-abortion people are never going to like anti-abortion ads. I don't like HSBC's ads where they misuse numbers and quote irrelevant statistics (There are more vineyards in Turkey than in South Africa. Bank with HSBC). I'm also offended with those gruesome ads trying to get you not to drink soda. But I don't make a fuss. I just try to ignore them. We are adults. Part of life is getting offended. Deal with.

But apparently I'm wrong. Apparently it's an outrage that anyone ever needs to endure offence related to race (or sexual orientation, to a lesser extent). The mother of the girl in picture is "furious," "devastated," and wants an apology. Well lady, when you took your kid to the stock-photo studio, you signed away your rights to the picture. Too bad. Honor your agreement, and live with it. This ad is just pointing out a fact, that lots of Black fetueses are aborted. No, Daily News, they are not comparing abortion to genocide. (Seriously, where did the Daily News see anything about genocide?) They are pointing out a statistical fact in a provocative way. Isn't that standard for advertising?

Together with the right to free speech comes the possibility of getting offended. Live with it.