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The brachistochrone

This animation is about one of the most significant problems in the history of mathematics: the brachistochrone challenge.

If a ball is to roll down a ramp which connects two points, what must be the shape of the ramp’s curve be, such that the descent time is a minimum?

Intuition says that it should be a straight line. That would minimize the distance, but the minimum time happens when the ramp curve is the one shown: a cycloid.

Johann Bernoulli posed the problem to the mathematicians of Europe in 1696, and ultimately, several found the solution. However, a new branch of mathematics, calculus of variations, had to be invented to deal with such problems. Today, calculus of variations is vital in quantum mechanics and other fields.

(Source: saulofortz)

If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance with his instincts, he will accept it even on the slenderest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.
Bertrand Russell

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The Sleep Schedules Of 27 Of History’s Greatest Minds

What do Freud, Maria Abramovi, Beethoven, and you have in common? For one, the need to sleep.

The science of sleep and its glorious effects on creativity, productivity, and sanity gets a lot of press these days. That said, the sleep habits of some of your favorite writers, musicians, and artists may surprise you a little.

The bedtimes and rising times of history’s greatest minds are inventively illustrated in Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. The infographic seems to debunk the myth that geniuses stay up through the wee hours working manically, and that you’re more creative when you’re tired—most of these 27 luminaries got a wholesome eight hours a night.

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Interesting approach, Balzac.

This should be our new way of telling time.  Substitute “call me anytime before 11” with “call me anytime before Le Corbusier goes to bed”

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