Rubik’s Cube

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pages: 242 words: 68,019

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, From Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo

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Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, assortative mating, Claude Shannon: information theory, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, New Economic Geography, Norbert Wiener, p-value, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, price mechanism, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, working-age population

In a system whose evolution is affected by chance (like in a statistical physics system), getting a series of consecutive moves right is not easy. Think of a Rubik’s cube. A Rubik’s cube illustrates the connection between available paths and entropy perfectly, since you will never be able to solve a Rubik’s cube by chance (even though in your desperation you might try). A Rubik cube has more than 43 quintillion possible states (that is, 43,252,003,274,489,856,000, or 4.3 × 1019), only one of which is perfectly ordered. Also, a Rubik’s cube is a system in which order is not that far away, since it is always possible to solve a Rubik’s cube in twenty moves or less.10 That sounds like a relatively small number, but finding the right twenty moves is not an easy feat. Most people solve the cube by traversing paths that are much more circuitous.

These meaningless forms of order are what information truly is.* Finally, I will connect the multiplicity-of-states definition of entropy with our ability to process information (that is, compute). As we saw in the Rubik’s cube example, information-rich states are hard to find, not only because they are rare but also because there are few paths leading to them. That’s why we equate the ability of someone to solve a Rubik’s cube with a form of intelligence, since those who know how to solve a Rubik’s cube get credit for finding these rare paths (or memorizing the rules to find them). But there are also examples simpler than a Rubik’s cube that we can use to illustrate the connection between the multiplicity of states of a system and computation. Consider the game where babies put shapes such as cylinders and cubes in their respective holes.

The basic method for solving the cube (building the top cross, positioning the corners, completing the middle row, etc.) usually takes more than fifty moves to complete (and until recently people believed that the number of moves needed to solve the cube was larger than twenty).11 This goes to show that in a Rubik’s cube there are only a few paths that lead to the perfectly ordered solution, and these paths, whether short or long, are rare, as they are hidden among the immense number of paths that push the cube away from order. So the growth of entropy is like a Rubik’s cube in the hands of a child. In nature information is rare not only because information-rich states are uncommon but also because they are inaccessible given the way in which nature explores the possible states. But what are the properties of information-rich states? And how can we use knowledge about their properties to identify them? One important characteristic of information-rich states is that these involve both long-range and short-range correlations. In the case of the Rubik’s cube these correlations are conspicuous12: when the cube is perfectly ordered, each color is surrounded by as many neighbors of the same color as it possibly can be.

The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain by James Fallon

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Bernie Madoff, epigenetics, Everything should be made as simple as possible, meta analysis, meta-analysis, personalized medicine, phenotype, Rubik’s Cube, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), stem cell, theory of mind

Everyone, including neuroscientists, hates these kinds of figures of the brain, but the brain is extraordinarily complex, so we have to deal with these Jackson Pollock monstrosities from time to time. FIGURE 3A: Depression brain circuitry. Most of us, however, fall somewhere in between these camps and organize the brain into a few hundred parts. I am a splitter, and I like having thousands of specific parts to study. But for the sake of simplicity, especially when teaching or writing a paper, I like to organize the brain into a 3×3×3 “Rubik’s Cube” pattern. This twenty-seven-part brain is as simple as I’m willing to go and still be able to sleep at night without violating Einstein’s first law of simplicity in science: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Everyone is familiar with the idea that we have a left brain and a right brain. But this conception is woefully lacking in some important ways. On the next page is a drawing of the side of the brain at the top left, a view of the top of the brain looking down from above, and a view of the medial portion of the brain that you would see if you sliced the brain down the middle.

This medial piece between the left and right hemispheres is also called the limbic lobe, from the word limbus, which means “edge” in Latin, and here refers to a full circle of ancient cortex related to emotion, attention, memory, switching between cognitive and emotional states, and even helping you to see if someone has taken one of your french fries when you weren’t looking. FIGURE 3B: Brain hemispheres. The next slicing of the Rubik’s Cube brain is from front, or anterior, to back, or posterior. The most posterior region of the cortex is dedicated to the visual sensory system, as well as “association” cortices that have functions more complicated than simple seeing or touching or hearing, but rather cognitive tasks such as spatial processing. The external world—up, down, left, right, close up, far away—is mapped onto the cortex in the upper part of the posterior area, called the superior parietal cortex.

That is, you will learn to mirror the accents and cadence and patois of speech from your family and friends, but your basic ability for grammar and syntax is more genetically determined. One tends to adopt the song and rhythm of speech around the time one reaches puberty, but the range and capabilities of individuals vary widely. In the case of Henry Kissinger and his younger brother, Walter, who fled Nazi Germany in 1938, when Henry was sixteen and his brother was fourteen, the elder brother kept his pronounced Frankish accent while Walter sounded very American. In the Rubik’s Cube middle sector of the hemisphere, there are the somatic and motor areas that map the skin senses in the back half of this middle piece, and the map of the areas that control the muscles of the body. Just in front of this motor cortex is the premotor cortex, which is involved in the planning of motor movements and in learning the rules of how we swing a golf club and play the piano. These two motor-related cortices form a strip on each hemisphere in size and placement like the support arms of a set of earphones.


pages: 437 words: 132,041

Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos

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Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, beat the dealer, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Edward Thorp, family office, forensic accounting, game design, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Myron Scholes, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, SETI@home, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, traveling salesman

The dream of Moscovich, like everyone in his industry, is, of course, to discover a new puzzle craze. There have been only four international puzzle crazes with a mathematical slant: the tangram, the Fifteen puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube and Sudoku. So far, the Cube has been the most lucrative. More than 300 million have been sold since Ernö Rubik came up with the idea in 1974. Apart from its commercial success, the gaudily coloured cube is a popular-culture evergreen. It is the nonpareil of puzzledom and, unsurprisingly, its presence was felt at the 2008 G4G. A talk on the Rubik’s Cube in four dimensions drew huge rounds of applause. The original Rubik’s Cube is a 3 × 3 × 3 array made up of 26 smaller cubes, or cubies. Each horizontal and vertical ‘slice’ can be rotated independently. Once the pattern of the cubies is jumbled, the aim of the puzzle is to twist the slices so that each side of the cube has cubies of just one colour.

Moscovich told me Ernö Rubik was doubly brilliant. Not only was the idea of the cube a stroke of genius, but the way he made the blocks fit together was an outstandingly clever piece of engineering. When you dismantle a Rubik’s Cube there is no separate mechanical device holding it all together – each cubie contains a piece of a central, interlocking sphere. As an object, the cube itself is sexy. It is a Platonic solid, a shape that has had iconic, mystical status since at least the ancient Greeks. The brand name was also a dream: catchy, with delicious assonance and consonance. The Rubik’s Cube had an Eastern exoticism too, not from Asia this time but from Cold War Eastern Europe. It sounded a lot like Sputnik, the original showpiece of Soviet space technology. Another ingredient in its success was the fact that while solving the cube was not easy, the challenge did not put people off.

Akkersdijk also holds the record for the 2 × 2 × 2 cube (0.96secs), the 4 × 4 × 4 cube (40.05secs) and the 5 × 5 × 5 cube (1min 16.21 secs). He can also solve the Rubik’s Cube with his feet – his time of 51.36secs is fourth-best in the world. However, Akkersdijk really must improve his performance at solving the cube one-handed (33rd in the world) and blindfolded (43rd). The rules for blindfolded solving are as follows: the timer starts when the cube is shown to the competitor. He must then study it, and put on a blindfold. When he thinks it is solved he tells the judge to stop the stopwatch. The current record of 48.05secs was set by Ville Seppänen of Finland in 2008. Other speedcubing disciplines include solving the Rubik’s Cube on a rollercoaster, under water, with chopsticks, while idling on a unicycle, and during freefall. The most mathematically interesting cube-solving category is how to solve it in the fewest moves possible.


pages: 349 words: 109,304

American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

bitcoin, blockchain, crack epidemic, Edward Snowden, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Rubik’s Cube, Satoshi Nakamoto, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Ted Kaczynski, the market place, trade route, white picket fence, WikiLeaks

Chapter 54 JARED BECOMES CIRRUS When Jared Der-Yeghiayan was a freshman in high school, his math teacher would walk into class each day with a Rubik’s Cube in hand. Young Jared would watch as the teacher passed the colored square cube around the room, instructing every student to jumble it as much as possible. “If I can solve this Rubik’s Cube in under a minute, you all get homework,” the teacher said to the class each day. “If I can’t, you don’t get any homework.” Sure enough, every single class ended with students trudging home with a complicated math assignment. After witnessing this spectacle several times, Jared was plagued by a desire to figure out how his teacher could always solve the riddle of the cube. He ran out and picked up his own Rubik’s Cube and spent weeks trying to solve the puzzle. With a lot of tenacity and a smidgen of help from the teacher, he was finally able to do the same thing.

The only thing that made it different from preschool was that you got to carry a gun. Unsurprisingly, Jared’s training officer saw no urgency to a single pill, and it was a week before he even consented to accompany his younger colleague on the “knock-and-talk”—to knock on the door of the person who was supposed to receive the pill and, hopefully, talk with them. That day, as Jared’s government-issued Crown Victoria zigzagged through the North Side of Chicago, the small Rubik’s Cube that hung from his key chain swung back and forth in the opposite direction. His car radio was dialed into sports: the Cubs and White Sox had been eliminated from contention, but the Bears were preparing for an in-division contest against the Lions. Amid the crackle of the radio, he turned onto West Newport Avenue, a long row of two-story limestone buildings split into a dyad of top- and bottom-floor apartments.

On the nineteenth floor, fifty-nine-year-old Samuel Der-Yeghiayan adjusted his robes and court documents as he prepared for the cases he would hear later that day as a U.S. federal judge. Sixteen floors below Samuel’s chambers his thirty-one-year-old son, Jared, was walking through the halls of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, his giant backpack over his shoulder, which was bulging with laptops, a Rubik’s Cube, and folders with pictures of evidence inside. In his hands he carried a large white mail-room tub filled with thirty or so envelopes of all shapes and sizes. Young Jared Der-Yeghiayan’s nerves were frayed as he made his way toward what would be the most important meeting of his career. It wasn’t lost on him that if he screwed this up, the story of his fuckup would make its way up all those flights of stairs to his father’s office.


pages: 236 words: 50,763

The Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible by Lance Fortnow

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Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, complexity theory, Donald Knuth, Erdős number, four colour theorem, Gerolamo Cardano, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, linear programming, new economy, NP-complete, Occam's razor, P = NP, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, smart grid, Stephen Hawking, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William of Occam

Who would think playing Sudoku, Minesweeper, or Tetris well would show P = NP and solve one of the biggest challenges of our generation? Figure 4-9. Rubik’s Cubes. Photo by Tom van der Zanden How about Rubik’s Cube? Even the 3 × 3 × 3 cube takes a while to learn to solve; imagine how much harder solving larger cubes should be. Actually not. We have efficient algorithms to solve even large Rubik’s Cubes puzzles using a branch of mathematics known as group theory. These algorithms don’t find the absolutely shortest solution, but they always find reasonably short ways to solve the cube from any starting position that can lead to a solution. It’s surprising how easy Rubik’s Cube is to solve, while Tetris, Minesweeper, and Sudoku are hard. How about two-person games like chess, checkers, Othello, and Go? The large versions of these games are as hard as satisfiability and the rest of the NP-complete problems.

, 33–34 one-time pad encryption, 129–30 On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals (al-Khwārizmī), 32 “On the Computational Complexity of Algorithms” (Hartmanis and Stearns), 76 “On the Impossibility of Constructing Minimal Disjunctive Normal Forms for Boolean Functions by Algorithms of a Certain Class” (Zhuravlev), 80 “On the Impossibility of Eliminating Perebor in Solving Some Problems of Circuit Theory” (Yablonsky), 80 OR, in logic, 52–53 OR gates, 79, 114, 114, 116, 116 P (polynomial): circuits size in, 116; efficiency in, 36; examples of, 46; meaning of, ix, 4 pad encryption, 129–30 parallel computing, 155, 156–58 partition into triangles problem, 59 partition puzzle, 4–5, 10 Pass the Rod, 37–38, 38, 39–40, 40, 45–46 “Paths, Trees, and Flowers” (Edmonds), 35–36, 76–77 perebor (Пepeбop), 71, 80 Perelman, Grigori, 7, 12 personalized recommendations, 23, 25 physics, NP problems in, 48, 48 Pippenger, Nicholas, 157 Pitts, Walter, 75 P = NC, 157–58 P = NP: big data and, 159; cryptography and, 129–30; imagined possibilities of, 12–19, 23–27; implications of, ix, 6, 9, 10, 46; importance of question, 46; likelihood of, 9, 28; meaning of, 4; NP-complete problems and, 59; proving, versus P ≠ NP, 120–21; random number generation and, 140; as satisfiability, 54–55; very cozy groups and, 104 P ≠ NP: attempts to prove, 118–21; implications of, ix–x, 46; meaning of, 4; mistakes in proving, 119–21; proving, 46, 57, 109–21, 161–62; very cozy groups and, 104 Poe, Edgar Allan, 124 Poincaré conjecture, 7 poker protocol, 137 polyalphabetic cipher, 124 polytope, 69–70, 70 prime numbers, 67–69, 129 privacy, and P = NP, 26–27 private-key cryptography, 26 probability theory, Kolmogorov and, 81–82, 167 products, in computations, 138 programs: contradictions in, 112; for hand control, 5–6 protein folding, 47–48 protein threading, 48 pseudorandomness, 140 public-key cryptography: factoring in, 140–41; P = NP and, 26, 127; randomness in, 136–37 public randomness, 136 P versus NP: circuit size in, 116; clique circuit computation and, 117; Eastern history of, 78–85; efficiency in, 36; future of, 155–62; Gödel’s description of, 85–86; hardest problems of, 55–57; history of, 6–7; as natural concept, 87; origin of problem, 54–55; paradox approach to, 112–13; parallel computing and, 157; resolving, 161–62; sources for technical formulation, 119; terminology used for, 58–59; Western history of, 72–78 quantum adiabatic systems, 147 quantum annealing, 147 quantum bits (qubits): copying, 148, 152; definition of, 144; dimensions of, 145; entanglement of, 145, 145, 147, 151, 151–52; transporting, 150, 150–53, 151, 152; values of, 145, 145 quantum computers: capabilities of, 9, 143, 146–47; future of, 153–54 quantum cryptography, 130, 148–49 quantum error-correction, 147 quantum states, observing, 146 quantum teleportation, 149–53, 150 randomness: creating, 139–40; public, 136 random sequences, 82–83 Razborov, Alexander, 85, 117–18 reduction, 54 relativity theory, 21 Rivest, Ronald, 127–28 robotic hand, 5–6 rock-paper-scissors, 139, 139 routes, finding shortest, 7–8 RSA cryptography, 127–28, 138 Rubik’s Cube, 64, 64 Rudich, Steven, 118 rule of thumb, 92 Salt, Veruca, 1–2, 157 satisfiability: cliques and, 54, 55; competition for, 96–97; as NP, 54–55 SAT Race, 96–97 Scherbius, Arthur, 124 Scientific American, 149–50 secret key cryptography, 126 security: of computer networks, 127; on Internet, 128–29 sensor data, 158 sentences, 75, 75–76 Seven Bridges of Königsberg puzzle, 38–39, 39 Shamir, Adi, 127–28 Shannon, Claude, 79 shared private keys, 129–30 shipping containers, 160–61 Shor, Peter, 146–47 simplex method, 69 simulations, data from, 158 Sipser, Michael, 117 Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, 31–32 six degrees of separation, 30–33 Skynet effect, 13 small world phenomenon, 30–33 smart cards, finding key to, 106–7 social networking, and Frenemy relationships, 29 Solomonoff, Ray, 83 Soviet Union: genetics research in, 81; probability theory in, 81, 167 speeches, automated creation of, 24 sports broadcasting, 17–18 Sports Scheduling Group, 16 Stalin, Josef, 81 Stanford University, 126, 139 Stearns, Richard, 76 Steklov Mathematical Institute, 117 Stephenson, Henry and Holly, 16 strategy, and equilibrium states, 49 Sudoku: large games, 60, 60–61, 61; zero-knowledge, 130–36, 131, 132, 133, 134 sums, in computations, 138 Sun Microsystems, 160 Switzerland, 94, 94–95, 95 Symposium on the Complexity of Computer Computations, 78 Symposium on the Theory of Computing (STOC), 52 Tait, Peter, 42 technological innovations, dealing with, 160–61 technology, failure of, 161 teleportation, quantum, 149–53, 150 television, 3-D renderings used by, 17–18 Terminator movies, 13 Tetris, 63, 63 theoretical cybernetics, 79–85 tracking, over Internet, 159–60 Trakhtenbrot, Boris, 83–84 transistors, in circuits, 113 translation, 18, 23 traveling salesman problem: approximation of, 99–100, 100, 101; description of, 2–4, 3; size of problem, 91, 91 Tsinghua University, 12 Turing, Alan, 73–74; in computer science, 112; in Ultra, 125–26; work on Entscheidungs-problem, 49 Turing Award: for Blum, 78; for computational complexity, 76; naming of, 74; for P versus NP, 57, 85; for RSA cryptography, 128 Turing machine, 73, 73–74, 86–87 Turing test, 74 Twitter, 161 Ultra project, 124–25 unique games problem, 104 universal search algorithm, 84 universal search problems, 84–85 University of Chicago, 121 University of Illinois, 12–14 University of Montreal, 148 University of Oxford, 19–20 University of Toronto, 51 University of Washington, 5–6 Unofficial Guide to Disney World (Sehlinger and Testa), 56–57 Urbana algorithm, 12–19, 23–27 U.S.


pages: 192 words: 45,091

What in God's Name: A Novel by Simon Rich

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Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, US Airways Flight 1549

Craig was an Angel, a full two rungs higher than a Page, but he hadn’t bothered to correct him; he knew from experience that there was no point in reasoning with an Archangel. Besides, he was grateful for the chance to finally see God’s office. It had fulfilled all of his expectations. God’s TV was enormous—at least sixty inches—and his remote control was nuts—a shiny, chrome slab that looked like it had been molded to fit his hand. The desk was solid maple and covered with cool executive toys. There was a Rubik’s Cube (which Craig could see was impressively far along) and a gleaming executive ball clicker, the kind that swings for minutes on end when given the slightest push. Craig located the boardroom and, with some difficulty, pulled open the heavy brass door. God strolled in and Craig tried to follow, but a strong hand clamped down on his shoulder. It was Vince, a gigantically tall Archangel with slick blond hair.

But he didn’t want to confess the truth—that he’d only phoned Raoul because he was lonely. He took a slow sip of beer, stalling. “‘The End Is Near,’ ” he said finally. “‘Repent.’ ” Raoul nodded. “I’ll write it on my sign.” “Great!” God said. “That’s great, Raoul. Take care.” He turned off the television and glanced at his watch. It was more than two hours until his afternoon meeting, and he had absolutely nothing to do. He picked up his Rubik’s Cube and fooled around with it for a bit. He was almost finished with the yellow side, but he couldn’t make any progress without messing up the red side. And he didn’t want to do that—the red side was the only one he’d finished. After a few frustrating minutes, he twisted the cube back the way it had been and tossed it onto his desk. God reclined listlessly in his chair. He couldn’t admit it to anyone, but lately he’d been feeling pretty down on himself.

“What the fuck!” God threw up his hands, exasperated. Why was this guy so mad at him? It’s not like he had put the puddle there; puddles were just something that happened when it rained. Honestly, what was he supposed to do? He could say “No more rain,” but that would probably cause even more problems for the humans and make them even angrier. He turned off the computer. Earth was just as frustrating as a Rubik’s Cube. It was impossible to fix something without making another thing even worse. He reached for his beer mug and noticed with mild surprise that it was empty. He cracked open another can and took a giant swig, forgetting about the glass this time. God knew that criticism was part of the job. You couldn’t build something as successful as the world without hearing from some haters. But lately things had gotten out of hand.


pages: 262 words: 65,959

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh

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Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, cognitive dissonance, Donald Knuth, Erdős number, Georg Cantor, Grace Hopper, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, P = NP, Paul Erdős, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Schrödinger's Cat, Simon Singh, Stephen Hawking, Wolfskehl Prize, women in the workforce

Naturally, this love of puzzles has found its way into various episodes. For example, the world’s most famous puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube, crops up in “Homer Defined” (1991). The episode features a flashback to 1980, the year the cube was first exported from Hungary, when a younger Homer attends a nuclear safety training session. Instead of paying attention to the instructor’s advice on what to do in the event of a meltdown, he is focused on his brand-new cube and cycling through some of the 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 permutations in order to find the solution. Rubik’s Cubes have also appeared in the episodes “Hurricane Neddy” (1996) and “HOMЯ” (2001), and the Rubik’s Cube was invoked as a threat by Moe Szyslak in “Donnie Fatso” (2010). As proprietor and bartender of Moe’s Tavern, Moe regularly receives prank calls from Bart asking to speak with particular people with fictitious and embarrassing names.

The “Donnie Fatso” episode is notable because Moe receives a phone call that is not a prank and not from Bart. Instead, Marion Anthony D’Amico, head of Springfield’s notorious D’Amico crime family, is calling. Fat Tony, as he is known to his friends (and enemies), simply wants Moe to find out if his Russian friend Yuri Nator is in the bar. Assuming that this is another prank by Bart, Moe makes the mistake of threatening the caller: “I’m gonna chop you into little pieces and make you into a Rubik’s Cube which I will never solve!” A more ancient puzzle appears in “Gone Maggie Gone” (2009), an episode that is partly a parody of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. The storyline begins with a total solar eclipse, ends with the discovery of the jewel of St. Teresa of Avila, and revolves around the false belief that Maggie is the new messiah. From a puzzle lover’s point of view, the episode’s most interesting scene concerns Homer, who finds himself trapped on one side of a river with his baby (Maggie), his dog (Santa’s Little Helper), and a large bottle of poison capsules.


pages: 266 words: 80,018

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding

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affirmative action, airport security, Anton Chekhov, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Berlin Wall, Chelsea Manning, don't be evil, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Etonian, Firefox, Google Earth, Jacob Appelbaum, job-hopping, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, kremlinology, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, national security letter, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, Steve Jobs, web application, WikiLeaks

Accompanying Greenwald was Laura Poitras, also an American citizen, documentary film-maker and notable thorn in the side of the US military. She had been a matchmaker, the first to point Greenwald in the ghost’s direction. The two journalists were given meticulous instructions. They were to meet in a less-trafficked, but not entirely obscure, part of the hotel, next to a large plastic alligator. They would swap pre-agreed phrases. The source would carry a Rubik’s cube. Oh, and his name was Edward Snowden. It appeared the mystery interlocutor was an experienced spy. Perhaps one with a flair for the dramatic. Everything Greenwald knew about him pointed in one direction: that he was a grizzled veteran of the intelligence community. ‘I thought he must be a pretty senior bureaucrat,’ Greenwald says. Probably 60-odd, wearing a blue blazer with shiny gold buttons, receding grey hair, sensible black shoes, spectacles, a club tie … Greenwald could visualise him already.

If the initial meeting failed, the plan was to return later the same morning to the same anonymous corridor, running between the Mira’s glitzy internal shopping mall and one of its restaurants. Greenwald and Poitras came back. They waited for a second time. And then they saw him – a pale, spindle-limbed, nervous, preposterously young man. In Greenwald’s shocked view, he was barely old enough to shave. He was dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans. In his right hand he was carrying a scrambled Rubik’s cube. Had there been a mistake? ‘He looked like he was 23. I was completely discombobulated. None of it made sense,’ Greenwald says. The young man – if indeed he were the source – had sent encrypted instructions as to how the initial verification would proceed: GREENWALD: What time does the restaurant open? THE SOURCE: At noon. But don’t go there, the food sucks … The exchange was faintly comic.

Instead of a key in an eagle’s claws it had a pair of eavesdropping headphones covering the bird’s ears. His co-workers assumed the sweatshirt, sold by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was a joke. There were further hints of a non-conformist personality. Snowden kept a copy of the constitution on his desk. He flourished it when he wanted to argue against NSA activities he felt violated it. He wandered the halls carrying a Rubik’s cube. He also cared about his colleagues, leaving small gifts on their desks. He almost lost his job sticking up for one co-worker who was being disciplined. The RSOC where Snowden worked is just one of several military installations in the area. Displays of US power abound. A giant satellite dish peeks from a hillside. CH-47 Chinook helicopters whump overhead. Camouflage trucks trundle by. Young men and women in uniform drive SUVs, sports cars and motorbikes.


pages: 378 words: 110,408

Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson, Robert Pool

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Albert Einstein, deliberate practice, iterative process, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pattern recognition, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, sensible shoes

Want to improve your puck-handling skills in hockey? It’s on the Internet. Want to be a better writer? On the Internet. To solve a Rubik’s Cube really fast? Internet. Of course, you have to be careful about the advice—the Internet offers just about everything except quality control—but you can get some good ideas and tips, try them out, and see what works best for you. But not everything is on the Internet, and the things that are may not fit exactly what you’re trying to do or may not be practical. Some of the most challenging skills to practice, for instance, are those that involve interacting with other people. It’s easy enough to sit in your room spinning a Rubik’s Cube faster and faster or to go to a driving range and practice hitting with your woods, but what if your skill requires a partner or an audience?

See brain adaptability plateaus, 161–65 play, 184–88, 215 Polgár, Judit, 182, 183, 187 Polgár, Klara, 180–83 Polgár, László, 180–83, 189 Polgár, Sofia, 182, 183 Polgár, Susan, 181–82, 183, 184, 185, 188 Poor Richard’s Almanack (Franklin), 156–57 positive feedback, motivation and, 22, 173–76 potential and adaptability, xix–xx, 47–49 practice ability and, 8, 9, 43 in blindfold chess, 51–54 vs. deliberate practice, 9, 132 digit memorization study, 2–5 effective techniques of, 9 fighter pilot school, 116–20 highly developed methods of, 85–89 as key to success, 230 music students, 77–79 solitary practice, 91, 92 vs. talent, in chess, 225–33 usual approach to, 11–14, 48–49, 121 See also purposeful practice; feedback praise, 186, 187, 189, 190, 239, 240 presbyopia study, 36–37 principles, of deliberate practice, 97–100 prodigies, xii–xiii, 211, 212, 214 See also expert performers; talent Professional Golfers’ Association, 146 Professor Moriarty, 226 prostate cancer study, 139–40 Psychology of Music (journal), xiv pull-ups, 34 purposeful practice adaptability, 41–47 brain response to (taxi studies), 30–32 characteristics of, 14–22 comfort zone, 17–22 defined, 98 vs. deliberate practice, 98 in digit study, 13–14 feedback, 16–17 focus, 15–16 goals, 15 highly developed methods of, 85–89 length of, 171 limits of, 22–25 musicians, 79–80 vs. naive practice, 14 recipe for, 22 vs. traditional approach, 11–14, 48–49 as work, 166–67 See also deliberate practice pushups, 33–34 Q quantitative vs. qualitative problems, 252 quarterbacks, pattern recognition, 64–65 quitting, 169–70, 173 R radiologists, 125–27, 141 Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, 88, 94 rat muscle study, 39 reading, mental representations and, 66–68 red flag, 121 Red Force pilots, 116–18 Renwick, James, 77–79 reproduction, of a master, 160–61, 214 retrieval structure comprehension and, 67 memory and, 24, 61 See also mental representations Richards, Nigel, 202–3, 205–6 ringmaster practice, 158–59 Road to Excellence, The (Ericsson), xxi rock climbing, pattern recognition, 65 Rubik’s Cube, 157–58 running age, 195 engagement in, 152, 153–54 Faloon, Steve and, 4, 15, 22 Hägg, Gunder, 172–73 mental representations, 82 pain of, 171 records in, 6, 107 Rush, Mark Alan, 201–2 Russell, JaMarcus, 236 S Sachs-Ericsson, Natalie, 95 Saikhanbayar, Tsogbadrakh, 84–85 Sakakibara, Ayako, xiv–xv Sanders, Lisa, 68–71 Sanker, David, 7 savants, 219–22 Schelew, Ellen, 243–47 Science (magazine), 42–43, 254 Scrabble, 202–3, 205–6 Scripps National Spelling Bee, 165–66 self-evaluation, of performance deliberate practice and, 99 fighter pilot school, 117 golf practice, 177–78 plateaus, 164–65 radiologists, 127 See also feedback; measurement, of performance self-fulfilling prophecy, of talent, 238–42 self-motivation, 191, 193 Servizio, Charles, 34 Sharma, Vikas, 8 Sherlock Holmes, 226 Shiffrin, Mikaela, 187 Shockley, William, 234 short-term memory digit study, 2–5 limit to, 2 role of, 61 siblings, of experts, 187–88 Simon, Herb, 55–56, 57, 257 simulator practice, 130, 143–44 simultaneous interpreters, 198 Sinatra, Frank, xiv Singh, Fauja, 195 singing, 151, 223–24 skill learning adaptability, see adaptability brain structure, 43–45 deliberate practice, 100 engagement, 150–54 individual instruction, 147–50, 165–66 vs. knowledge, 130–37 mental representations, 76–82 plateaus, 161–65 purposeful practice, see purposeful practice usual approach to, 11–14 skills-based training, 137–44 sleep, 92–93, 154, 170, 171 soccer, patterns in, 63–64 social motivation, 173–76 solitary practice, 91, 92, 109, 147–50, 165–66, 176–77, 230, 232 sommeliers, 104–5 Spectator, The (magazine), 155, 156, 159–60, 255 Spencer, David Richard, 7 sports.


pages: 360 words: 85,321

The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling by Adam Kucharski

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, butterfly effect, call centre, Chance favours the prepared mind, Claude Shannon: information theory, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, diversification, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Thorp, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Flash crash, Gerolamo Cardano, Henri Poincaré, Hibernia Atlantic: Project Express, if you build it, they will come, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, locking in a profit, Louis Pasteur, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, p-value, performance metric, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, statistical model, The Design of Experiments, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

During each round of guessing, Coram randomly switched a couple of the letters in the cipher and checked whether his guess had improved. If a message contained more realistic letter pairings than the previous guess, Coram stuck with it for the next go. If the message wasn’t as realistic, he would usually switch back. But occasionally he stuck with a less plausible cipher. It’s a bit like solving a Rubik’s Cube. Sometimes the quickest route to the solution involves a step that at first glance takes you in the wrong direction. And, like a Rubik’s Cube, it might be impossible to find the perfect arrangement by only taking steps that improve things. The idea of combining the power of the Monte Carlo method with Markov’s memory property originated at Los Alamos. When Nick Metropolis first joined the team in 1943, he’d worked on the problem that had also puzzled Poincaré and Borel: how to understand the interactions between individual molecules.

165–166, 167, 171, 190 limitations of, 190 memory and, 180–181 newsfeeds and, 122, 133–134 in poker, 135–136, 149–150, 151, 153, 154, 161, 163, 167–168, 172, 173, 175, 176–177, 182, 184, 185–189, 190, 192–196, 212, 217 rock-paper-scissors and, 178, 180–181 stock/financial markets and, 113, 115, 117–120, 122, 123–124, 129–130, 131–132 teaching themselves, 151, 176–177, 190 training, 155, 168, 174, 175, 176, 188 vulnerabilities in using, 118–119 rock-paper-scissors, 142–143, 178, 180–181 roll downs, 29–32, 33 rollovers, 29, 33–34, 204 roulette, 1, 197 bias in, 6, 7 control over events in, 199 evolution of successful strategies in, 21–22, 208 factors restricting scientific betting in, 22 fading of data availability limitations in, 73 gambling law and, 200 and lotteries, biased view of, 98 and luck, 202 and the Monte Carlo fallacy, 6, 200 randomness and predictions in, 2, 3–4, 5–8, 9, 10–11, 12–13, 14, 15–20, 21–22, 38, 124, 127, 162, 178–179, 202, 210–211, 212, 218 scientific idea inspired by, 217 spin stages, 16 university courses studying, 215 Roulston, Mark, 204 Rubik’s Cube, 63 Rubner, Oliver, 78 Rugby World Cup, 84 rule-based approaches, 149, 151, 153, 176 Rutter, Brad, 165–166 S&P 500, 121 sabermetrics, 209 Salganik, Matthew, 203 San Francisco Giants, 88 Sandholm, Tuomas, 167, 184, 189, 212 scandals, 90 Schaeffer, Jonathan, 154, 155, 156, 158, 160, 167, 168, 177, 190 Science (journal), 160, 188 scouting, 105 scratchcards, 26–28 screen scraping, 86 “Searching for Positive Returns at the Track” (Bolton and Chapman), 46 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 130 security casino, 2, 20, 21, 22, 40, 73, 197, 213 online, 195 Selbee, Gerald, 30, 33 “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” 9, 10 Shannon, Claude, 11–12, 12–13, 14, 15 sharps, 102, 107 Shaw, Robert, 14, 22 short stacking strategy, 193 shuffling cards.

The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

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Atul Gawande, crowdsourcing, Hernando de Soto, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, land reform, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, Slavoj Žižek

This ad copy transforms the alchemy of Morgellons into a magic trick: examined close-up, our most ordinary parts—even the surface and abrasions of our skin—become wild and terrifying. My name is automatically entered in the lottery, along with all the other conference attendees, and I end up winning a miniscope. I’m sheepish headed to the stage. What do I need a scope for? I’m here to write about how other people need scopes. I’m given a square box a bit smaller than a Rubik’s Cube. I imagine how the scene will play out later tonight: examining my skin in the stale privacy of my hotel room, coming face to face with that razor’s edge between skepticism and fear by way of the little widget in my palm. At the bottom of my sheet of jokes, the title—You might be a morgie if—is given one last completing clause: “you laughed out loud and ‘got’ these jokes.” I remember that early e-mail—topic of the biggest joke in the world—and see why these jokes might matter so much—not simply because they resonate, but because they reclaim the activity of joking itself.

“Well then,” Laz smiles. “Guess I’ll smoke the last quarter of this one.” He finishes the cigarette and then tosses it into our cooking fire, where it smokes right into our breakfast. I am aware that Laz has already been turned into a myth, and that I will probably become another one of his mythmakers. Various tropes of masculinity are at play in Laz’s persona—bad-ass, teenager, father, demon, warden—and this Rubik’s cube of grit and edges seems to be what Barkley’s all about. I realize Laz and I will have many hours to spend in each other’s company. The runners are out on their loops anywhere from eight to thirty-two hours. Between loops, if they’re continuing, they stop at camp for a few moments of food and rest. This is both succor and sadism; the oasis offers respite and temptation at once. It’s the Lotus Eater’s dilemma: hard to leave a good thing behind.


pages: 252 words: 72,473

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, carried interest, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, Emanuel Derman, housing crisis, I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations, illegal immigration, Internet of things, late fees, mass incarceration, medical bankruptcy, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Rubik’s Cube, Sharpe ratio, statistical model, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working poor

CHAPTER 2 SHELL SHOCKED: My Journey of Disillusionment CHAPTER 3 ARMS RACE: Going to College CHAPTER 4 PROPAGANDA MACHINE: Online Advertising CHAPTER 5 CIVILIAN CASUALTIES: Justice in the Age of Big Data CHAPTER 6 INELIGIBLE TO SERVE: Getting a Job CHAPTER 7 SWEATING BULLETS: On the Job CHAPTER 8 COLLATERAL DAMAGE: Landing Credit CHAPTER 9 NO SAFE ZONE: Getting Insurance CHAPTER 10 THE TARGETED CITIZEN: Civic Life CONCLUSION Notes About the Author When I was a little girl, I used to gaze at the traffic out the car window and study the numbers on license plates. I would reduce each one to its basic elements—the prime numbers that made it up. 45 = 3 x 3 x 5. That’s called factoring, and it was my favorite investigative pastime. As a budding math nerd, I was especially intrigued by the primes. My love for math eventually became a passion. I went to math camp when I was fourteen and came home clutching a Rubik’s Cube to my chest. Math provided a neat refuge from the messiness of the real world. It marched forward, its field of knowledge expanding relentlessly, proof by proof. And I could add to it. I majored in math in college and went on to get my PhD. My thesis was on algebraic number theory, a field with roots in all that factoring I did as a child. Eventually, I became a tenure-track professor at Barnard, which had a combined math department with Columbia University.

This drama pushed me quickly along in my journey of disillusionment. I was especially disappointed in the part that mathematics had played. I was forced to confront the ugly truth: people had deliberately wielded formulas to impress rather than clarify. It was the first time I had been directly confronted with this toxic concept, and it made me want to escape, to go back in time to the world of proofs and Rubik’s Cubes. And so I left the hedge fund in 2009 with the conviction that I would work to fix the financial WMDs. New regulations were forcing banks to hire independent experts to analyze their risk. I went to work for one of the companies providing that analysis, RiskMetrics Group, one block north of Wall Street. Our product was a blizzard of numbers, each of them predicting the likelihood that a certain tranche of securities or commodities would go poof within the next week, the next year, or the next five years.


pages: 260 words: 77,007

Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Trick Questions, Zen-Like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You ... Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy by William Poundstone

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, cloud computing, creative destruction, en.wikipedia.org, full text search, hiring and firing, index card, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, loss aversion, mental accounting, new economy, Paul Erdős, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, sorting algorithm, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, The Spirit Level, Tony Hsieh, why are manhole covers round?, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

Lowen published a general solution for optimal slicing of a cube into N × N × N cubelets. They assured any practical-minded readers that their method might “have important applications in the cheese and sugarloaf industries.” This question loosely recalls another posed in interviews at some financial firms: How many cubes are in the center of a Rubik’s Cube? Since the standard cube is 3 × 3 × 3, the fake-out answer is “one.” Anyone who’s ever disassembled a Rubik’s Cube knows the real answer is “zero.” There’s a spherical joint in the middle, no cubelet. ? There are three boxes, and one contains a valuable prize; the other two are empty. You’re given your choice of a box, but you aren’t told whether it contains the prize. Instead, one of the boxes you didn’t pick is opened and is shown to be empty.


pages: 390 words: 108,811

Geektastic: Stories From the Nerd Herd by Holly Black, Cecil Castellucci

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citation needed, double helix, index card, Maui Hawaii, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup

For the next four hours I watch her face as she teaches herself thousands of years of astronomical history. I watch as the patterns of the stars take up residence inside her head. When she turns the last page, she pushes the book into my hands. “Thank you, Peter,” she says so earnestly I want to scoop her up and run around the field with her. So I do. In her eighth grade yearbook, Wendy Mass was bestowed the dubious honor of Most Likely to Solve Rubik’s Cube because she spent so much time fiddling with it instead of paying attention in class. Always fascinated by the night sky, she took Astronomy 101 in college. It was so complicated that she never got higher than 45 out of 100 on any exam. Fortunately, neither did anyone else and the professor graded on a curve. She got an A! She loves writing about astronomy now, and tries to make it so easy to understand that the reader will fall in love with it, too.

She loves writing about astronomy now, and tries to make it so easy to understand that the reader will fall in love with it, too. Wendy is the author of eight novels for young readers, including A Mango-Shaped Space (about a girl with synesthesia), Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Every Soul a Star, and Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall. She lives in northern New Jersey, where she can be found staring up at the sky with her telescope, or down at the ground with her metal detector, hoping to find gold. She can do Rubik’s Cube in less than two minutes. Text by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci. Illustrations by Hope Larson. IT’S JUST A JUMP TO THE LEFT by libba bray “How did she get ahead of us?” Agnes whispered to Leta. “I can’t believe her. She came earlier than us on purpose,” Leta said. Five people up in the line, Jennifer Pomhultz, in a rabbit-fur jacket and side ponytail, executed a perfect step-ball-change while her older sister and a handful of others applauded.


pages: 329 words: 93,655

Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

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Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Berlin Wall, conceptual framework, deliberate practice, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, lifelogging, mental accounting, patient HM, pattern recognition, Rubik’s Cube, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, zero-sum game

I typed in “highest IQ,” “intelligence champion,” “smartest in the world.” I learned that there was someone in New York City with an IQ of 228, and a chess player in Hungary who once played fifty-two simultaneous blindfolded games. There was an Indian woman who could calculate the twenty-third root of a two-hundred-digit number in her head in fifty seconds, and someone else who could solve a fourdimensional Rubik’s cube, whatever that is. And of course there were plenty of more obvious Stephen Hawking types of candidates. Brains are notoriously trickier to quantify than brawn. In the course of my Googling, though, I did discover one intriguing candidate who was, if not the smartest person in the world, at least some kind of freakish genius. His name was Ben Pridmore, and he could memorize the precise order of 1,528 random digits in an hour and—to impress those of us with a more humanist bent—any poem handed to him.

By the end of my three days in Tallahassee, Tres had collected seven hours of audiotaped data for Ericsson and his grad students to analyze later. Lucky them. And then there were the extensive interviews conducted by another graduate student, Katy Nandagopal. Do you think you have a good natural memory? (Pretty good, but nothing special.) Did you ever play memory games growing up? (Not that I can think of.) Board games? (Only with my grandmother.) Do you enjoy riddles? (Who doesn’t?) Can you solve a Rubik’s cube? (No.) Do you sing? (Only in the shower.) Dance? (Ditto.) Do you work out? (Sore subject.) Do you use workout tapes? (You need to know that?) Do you have electrical wiring expertise? (Really?) For someone who wants to know what’s being done to him so that he might someday tell other people about it, being the subject of a scientific study can be exceedingly trying. “Why exactly are we doing this?”


pages: 189 words: 40,632

That Sugar Book: This Book Will Change the Way You Think About 'Healthy' Food by Damon Gameau

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Gary Taubes, Rubik’s Cube

You can see that I virtually swapped healthy fats for sugar-laden products. New research suggests that the calories from sugar, and fructose in particular, behave very differently from other calories (see here for a more detailed explanation). UNDERSTANDING INSULIN Before we find out the details of what sugar did to my body, we need to talk about insulin. For a non-scientist, insulin is the Rubik’s Cube of hormones. I am not even going to pretend to understand all of its functions. I do know, however, that it controls what our body does with the food we eat, deciding whether to burn it for energy or to store it (this is known as ‘fuel partitioning’ in science speak). Insulin and glucose (the sugar that most foods break down to) have a very close relationship. Insulin is vital for clearing glucose out of our bloodstream, either by allowing it to pass more easily into our muscle, organ or fat cells to use for fuel, or by using it to build glycogen, which can be thought of as a spare battery to call on when we need energy.

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

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Rubik’s Cube, telemarketer

On Airport Pickup Duties “My flight lands at nine-thirty on Sunday…. You want to watch what? What the fuck is Mad Men? I’m a mad man if you don’t pick me the hell up.” On Built-Up Expectations “Your brother brought his baby over this morning. He told me it could stand. It couldn’t stand for shit. Just sat there. Big letdown.” On Canine Leisure Time “The dog is not bored. It’s not like he’s waiting for me to give him a fucking Rubik’s Cube. He’s a goddamned dog.” On Talking Heads “Do these announcers ever shut the fuck up? Don’t ever say stuff just because you think you should. That’s the definition of an asshole.” On Long-Winded Anecdotes “You’re like a tornado of bullshit right now. We’ll talk again when your bullshit dies out over someone else’s house.” On Today’s Hairstyles “Do people your age know how to comb their fucking hair?


pages: 402 words: 110,972

Nerds on Wall Street: Math, Machines and Wired Markets by David J. Leinweber

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AI winter, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, butterfly effect, buttonwood tree, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, citizen journalism, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Danny Hillis, demand response, disintermediation, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, experimental economics, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, information retrieval, intangible asset, Internet Archive, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, load shedding, Long Term Capital Management, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, market fragmentation, market microstructure, Mars Rover, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, negative equity, Network effects, optical character recognition, paper trading, passive investing, pez dispenser, phenotype, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Stallman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, semantic web, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, Small Order Execution System, smart grid, smart meter, social web, South Sea Bubble, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, Turing machine, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Vernor Vinge, yield curve, Yogi Berra, your tax dollars at work

These were typically the brainstorms of people who knew just enough about AI to be dangerous. They believed what the software vendors told them: AI would lead them to the holy grail. 2. Use every conceivable esoteric AI technique, now. These were typically the brainstorms of people without a clue about finance. They were entirely capable of convincing themselves that a program that could solve Rubik’s Cube would be a great options trader. Unfortunately, they were often a little fuzzy on exactly what an option was. In designing MarketMind (and later QuantEx), the goal was not to use AI for its own sake, but rather to apply AI techniques where they could be used appropriately and within their limits to provide an advantage over conventional technologies. A clue to the question of how to apply AI in trading is found by looking at the many thousands of electronic trading support systems that were already in use.

These include many serious and useful applications, such as fault medical diagnosis, configuring complex systems, and process control. They also include a number of less serious (but mathematically interesting) problems like how to arrange n queens on an n-by-n 168 Nerds on Wall Str eet square chessboard so no queen attacks another, many variations of the “missionaries and cannibals” and “monkeys and bananas” problems, and the aforementioned Rubik’s Cube. These clever programs used a very general symbolic pattern-matching technique, called Rete matching, which was a central element of the expert systems tools being promoted as “this year’s breakthrough of the century” in the mid-1980s. However, this sophisticated pattern matching is complex, requires an astonishing amount of computer power, and is only marginally relevant to the types of chart scanning real traders do.


pages: 613 words: 151,140

No Such Thing as Society by Andy McSmith

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anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Geldof, British Empire, Brixton riot, call centre, cuban missile crisis, Etonian, F. W. de Klerk, Farzad Bazoft, feminist movement, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, full employment, glass ceiling, God and Mammon, greed is good, illegal immigration, index card, John Bercow, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Live Aid, loadsamoney, long peace, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, old-boy network, popular capitalism, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sloane Ranger, South Sea Bubble, spread of share-ownership, strikebreaker, The Chicago School, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban decay, Winter of Discontent, young professional

In 1979, this shop was the first in the UK to introduce scanners that read the barcodes on certain products, starting with Melrose tea bags. In 1980, barcodes spread for the first time beyond the grocery trade, when they were introduced by WH Smith. For male university students, the most interesting innovation of 1980 was the noisy, bulky Space Invaders machines that turned up in every student bar. For teenage schoolchildren, the biggest intellectual challenge of 1980 was trying to solve Rubik’s Cube. This new craze was a three-dimensional puzzle, devised in the 1970s by a Hungarian sculptor and licensed by Ideal Toys in 1980, comprising six faces covered with nine stickers in six different colours, which could be turned independently, mixing the colours to one of 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 permutations. The challenge was to turn them back again so that each face was a solid colour once more.

Ian ref1, ref2 Palestine Liberation Organization ref1 Parker Bowles, Camilla ref1, ref2 Parkinson, Cecil ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5 Philip, Prince ref1 Planer, Nigel ref1, ref2 The Pogues ref1 The Police (band) ref1 see also Sting police and law enforcement ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10, ref11, ref12 Hillsborough disaster ref1, ref2, ref3 miners’ strike ref1, ref2, ref3 Northern Ireland and the IRA ref1, ref2, ref3 racism and race riots ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9 see also Yorkshire Ripper case poll tax ref1, ref2, ref3 see also taxes pornography ref1, ref2 Portillo, Michael ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5 Powell, Enoch ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 Prior, James ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8 Private Eye ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7 privatization ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7 Proctor, Harvey ref1, ref2 property market ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 Public Sector Borrowing Requirements (PSBR) ref1, ref2 Pym, Francis ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 R racism and race riots ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9 see also ethnic minorities; immigrants and immigration Reagan, Ronald ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6 Red Wedge ref1, ref2 Rhodes, Nick ref1 Richardson, Miranda ref1 Richardson, Peter ref1 Ridgeley, Andrew ref1 Ridley, Nicholas ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7 Rimington, Stella ref1, ref2 Roberts, Alfred ref1 Roberts, Captain Hilarian ref1 Rodgers, Bill ref1, ref2, ref3 Rowbotham, Sheila ref1 Royal Nay ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5 destroy General Belgrano ref1 HMS Coventry ref1 HMS Sheffield ref1, ref2 HMS Sir Galahad ref1 Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) ref1 Rubik’s Cube ref1 Runcie, Robert ref1, ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 Rushdie, Salman ref1 S Sabra and Chatila massacres ref1 Sanderson, Tessa ref1 Sands, Bobby ref1, ref2 SAS (Special Air Service) ref1, ref2 The Satanic verses ref1 Saunders, Jennifer ref1, ref2 Saward, Jill ref1 Sayle, Alexei ref1, ref2 Scargill, Arthur ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10, ref11, ref12 see also miners’ strike Scarman, Lord ref1 Schmidt, Helmut ref1, ref3 Scottish National Party ref1 The Secret Policeman’s Ball ref1 Shah, Selim ‘Eddie’ ref1, ref2 Shand Kydd, Frances ref1 Sharon, Ariel ref1 Short, Clare ref1 Sinclair, Clive ref1, ref2, ref3 Sinn Fein ref1, ref2, ref3 see also IRA Sky television ref1 Smith, John ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5 Smith, Mel ref1 The Smiths ref1 Soames, Christopher ref1 Social Democratic and Labour Party ref1, ref2, ref3 Social Democratic Party (SDP) ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6 Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) ref1, ref1 South Georgia ref1, ref2 see also Falklands war Southall riots ref1 Soviet Union ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5 Space Invaders ref1 Spandau Ballet ref1, ref2 Special Patrol Group (SPG) ref1, ref2 The Specials (Special AKA) ref1, ref3 Spencer, Diana see Diana, Princess Spencer, Earl ref1 spin doctoring ref1, ref2 Spitting Image ref1, ref2 sport ref1 cricket ref1 Olympics ref1 see also football St Paul’s riots ref1 Stalker inquiry ref1 Steel, David ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 steelworkers see British Steel Stephenson, Pamela ref1 Sting ref1, ref2, ref3 Stock Exchange see banking The Stone Roses ref1 Strange, Steve ref1 strikes see miners’ strike; newspaper industry; unions Sugar, Alan ref1, ref2 Sullivan, John ref1, ref2 Sun ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10, ref11, ref12, ref13, ref14, ref15, ref16, ref17, ref18, ref19, ref20, ref21, ref22, ref23 Falklands war ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 Sunday Express ref1 Sunday Telegraph ref1, ref2 Sunday Times ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10 Sutcliffe, Peter see Yorkshire Ripper case Sutcliffe, Sonia ref1, ref2 T Tapsell, Sir Peter ref1 Tatchell, Peter ref1 Tatler ref1, ref2 taxes ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10 Taylor, Andy ref1 Taylor, John ref1, ref2 Taylor, Lord (Hillsborough inquiry) ref1 Taylor, Roger ref1 Tebbit, Norman ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10 television and film ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5 Channel 4 ref1 comedy ref1 TV-am ref1, ref2 see also BBC; programmes by name Terrence Higgins Trust ref1, ref2 Thatcher, Carol ref1, ref2, ref3 Thatcher, Denis ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7 Thatcher, Margaret ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10, ref11, ref12, ref13, ref14, ref15, and apartheid ref1 Broadcasting Act ref1 campaign for party leadership ref1 character and reputation ref1 Ethiopia ref1, ref2, ref3 Falklands war ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10 family ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 football hooliganism ref1, ref2 Germany and reunification ref1, ref2, ref3 immigration and race riots ref1, ref2 leadership challenged ref1, ref2 and local authorities ref1, ref2, ref3 miners’ strike ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6 Moscow Olympics ref1, ref2 NHS and education ref1, ref2 Northern Ireland and IRA ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6 nuclear arms ref1 poll tax ref1 Spitting Image puppet ref1, ref2 wins 1979 election ref1, ref2 Yorkshire Ripper case ref1 see also Conservative Party; economy; European Union; privatization; unions Thatcher, Mark ref1, ref2, ref3 Thompson, Daley ref1 Thompson, E.P. ref1 Thomson, Kenneth ref1 Thorneycroft , Lord ref1 The Times ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8 Today ref1, ref2 Tomlinson, Ricky ref1 Torvill and Dean ref1 Tottenham riots ref1 Toxteth riots ref1, ref2 Trade Union Congress (TUC) ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 trade unions see unions Transport and General Workers Union ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8 Trotskyists see Militants TV-am ref1, ref2 U Uref1 ref2 UBref1 ref2 Ulster Unionist Party ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 unemployment ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7 Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) ref1 unions ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10, ref11, ref12, ref13, ref14, ref15, ref16, ref17, ref18, ref19, ref20 broadcasting unions ref1 National Union of Miners (NUM) ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10 newspaper industry ref1, ref2 see also miners’ strike; Scargill, Arthur; unions by name United States of America ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5 banking ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6 Mark Thatcher ref1 music ref1, ref2, ref3 Ure, Midge ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 V Vaz, Keith ref1, ref2, ref3 Venables, Terry ref1 Vestey family ref1 Video cassette recorders ref1 Vietnamese ‘boat people’ ref1 W wages ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6, ref7, ref8, ref9, ref10, ref11 see also unions Walker, Peter ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5, ref6 Walters, Alan ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4 Warsaw Pact ref1, ref2 Weller, Paul ref1, ref2 Weston, Simon ref1 Westwood, Vivienne ref1 Wham!


pages: 458 words: 137,960

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

Albert Einstein, call centre, dematerialisation, fault tolerance, financial independence, game design, late fees, pre–internet, Rubik’s Cube, side project, telemarketer, walking around money

Users could now teleport back and forth between their favorite fictional worlds. Middle Earth. Vulcan. Pern. Arrakis. Magrathea. Discworld, Mid-World, Riverworld, Ringworld. Worlds upon worlds. For the sake of zoning and navigation, the OASIS had been divided equally into twenty-seven cube-shaped “sectors,” each containing hundreds of different planets. (The three-dimensional map of all twenty-seven sectors distinctly resembled an ’80s puzzle toy called a Rubik’s Cube. Like most gunters, I knew this was no coincidence.) Each sector measured exactly ten light-hours across, or about 10.8 billion kilometers. So if you were traveling at the speed of light (the fastest speed attainable by any spacecraft inside the OASIS), you could get from one side of a sector to the other in exactly ten hours. That sort of long-distance travel wasn’t cheap. Spacecraft that could travel at light speed were rare, and they required fuel to operate.

A millisecond later, I was standing inside a vintage 1980s phone booth located inside an old Greyhound bus station. I opened the door and stepped out. It was like stepping out of a time machine. Several NPCs milled around, all dressed in mid-1980s attire. A woman with a giant ozone-depleting hairdo bobbed her head to an oversize Walkman. A kid in a gray Members Only jacket leaned against the wall, working on a Rubik’s Cube. A Mohawked punk rocker sat in a plastic chair, watching a Riptide rerun on a coin-operated television. I located the exit and headed for it, drawing my sword as I went. The entire surface of Middletown was a PvP zone, so I had to proceed with caution. Shortly after the Hunt began, this planet had turned into Grand Central Station, and all 256 copies of Halliday’s hometown had been scoured and ransacked by an endless parade of gunters, all searching for keys and clues.


pages: 434 words: 135,226

The Music of the Primes by Marcus Du Sautoy

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Ada Lovelace, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, computer age, Dava Sobel, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Erdős number, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, German hyperinflation, global village, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, music of the spheres, New Journalism, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine, William of Occam, Wolfskehl Prize, Y2K

In 1735, Euler wrote that ‘So much work has been done on the series that it seems hardly likely that anything new about them may still turn up … I, too, in spite of repeated effort, could achieve nothing more than approximate values for their sums.’ Nevertheless, Euler, emboldened by his previous discoveries, began to play around with this infinite sum. Twisting it this way and that like the sides of a Rubik’s cube, he suddenly found the series transformed. Like the colours on the cube, these numbers slowly came together to form a completely different pattern from the one he had started with. As he went on to describe, ‘Now, however, quite unexpectedly, I have found an elegant formula depending upon the quadrature of the circle’ – in modern parlance, a formula depending on the number π = 3.1415 … By some pretty reckless analysis, Euler had discovered that this infinite sum was homing in on the square of π divided by 6: The decimal expansion of , like that of π, is completely chaotic and unpredictable.

It’s not the most obvious idea to come to mind. This sort of discovery is very different to the thunderbolt discovery of the Riemann Hypothesis or Gauss’s discovery of a connection between primes and logarithms. The Lucas—Lehmer test is not a pattern that will emerge through experiment or numerical observation. They discovered this by playing around with what it means for 2n − 1 to be prime, continually turning the statement like a Rubik’s cube until suddenly the colours come together in a new way. Each turn will be like a step in the proof. Unlike other theorems where the destination is clear from the outset, the Lucas—Lehmer test ultimately emerged by following the proof without quite knowing where it was going. Lucas had begun turning the cube but Lehmer successfully brought it into the simple form used today. While he was cracking the German Enigma codes in Bletchley, Turing discussed with his colleagues the potential for machines, similar to the bombes they had built, to find large prime numbers.


pages: 176 words: 54,784

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

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false memory syndrome, fear of failure, iterative process, Parkinson's law, Rubik’s Cube

Yet she’s scared to death of pushing her children away, scared to the point of asking, “How do I ask them to move out?” These are VCR questions. From the outside, the answer is simple: just shut up and do it. But from the inside, from the perspective of each of these people, these questions feel impossibly complex and opaque—existential riddles wrapped in enigmas packed in a KFC bucket full of Rubik’s Cubes. VCR questions are funny because the answer appears difficult to anyone who has them and appears easy to anyone who does not. The problem here is pain. Filling out the appropriate paperwork to drop out of med school is a straightforward and obvious action; breaking your parents’ hearts is not. Asking a tutor out on a date is as simple as saying the words; risking intense embarrassment and rejection feels far more complicated.


pages: 201 words: 64,545

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

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air freight, business process, clean water, Donald Trump, Doomsday Book, Mahatma Gandhi, pushing on a string, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rubik’s Cube, urban sprawl

We failed to provide the proper training for the new company leaders, and the strain of managing a company with eight autonomous product divisions and three channels of distribution exceeded management’s skills. We never developed the mechanisms to encourage them to work together in ways that kept the overall business objectives in sight. Shooting line at Lago Fagnano. Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Don’t try this with dentures! Doug Tompkins Several planning efforts had to be aborted; no one could solve the Rubik’s cube of matching market-specific product development with such a complex distribution mix. Organization charts looked like the Sunday crossword puzzle and were issued almost as frequently. The company was restructured five times in five years; no plan worked better than the last one. At one point we decided we needed another perspective, and Malinda and I, along with our CEO and CFO, sought the advice of a well-regarded consultant.


pages: 220 words: 75,651

The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman

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airport security, Mercator projection, out of africa, Rubik’s Cube

The constant music and explosions from the television stupefied me and everyone else. There was nothing to do, nowhere to go. No one read, and passengers barely spoke; on a bus your seat holds you prisoner. My seatmates were a string of Marias—people traveling unbelievably long rides for short visits with family or for work. Vendors swarmed on board at every stop, hawking grilled corn and hot sodas and Rubik’s Cubes. “Jugo! Cola! Esta bien!” A stream of salesmen got on, talked and talked, holding up bottles of little green pills or small pieces of candy. “My product is better!” they all said, walking down the aisle, now filled to standing room only, passing out samples, talking some more, then collecting a few coins or taking the samples back. The thought of selling penny candies or medicines on a moving bus was impossible to imagine; day after day after day, the same spiel, all for pennies.


pages: 238 words: 73,824

Makers by Chris Anderson

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3D printing, Airbnb, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, business process, commoditize, Computer Numeric Control, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, factory automation, Firefox, future of work, global supply chain, global village, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, Network effects, profit maximization, QR code, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, South of Market, San Francisco, spinning jenny, Startup school, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize, Y Combinator

The kids were happy enough to open the Lego Mindstorms box and assemble the starter robot, a three-wheeled rover, but once we plugged in the batteries they could barely hide their disappointment. Hollywood, it turns out, has ruined robotics for kids: they expect laser-armed humanoid machines that can transform into trucks. Meanwhile, after an hour of assembly and programming, the Mindstorms rover could only roll forward and bounce feebly off a wall. We looked online to see what others were doing with Mindstorms, and saw that hobbyists had already made everything from robotic Rubik’s Cube solvers to working photocopiers. We wanted to invent something new, but there was no way we could do that sort of thing, or anything even close to it. The kids lost interest after lunch. Okay, there was always the plane. On Sunday we took it to a park. I tossed it in the air and promptly flew it into a tree. The kids just looked at me, equally appalled by my lack of ability and the gap between my promise of how cool the plane would be (and the spectacular YouTube videos of aerobatics we’d watched) and how uncool it had actually turned out to be.


pages: 247 words: 81,135

The Great Fragmentation: And Why the Future of All Business Is Small by Steve Sammartino

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, collaborative consumption, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Elon Musk, fiat currency, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, haute couture, helicopter parent, illegal immigration, index fund, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, lifelogging, market design, Metcalfe's law, Metcalfe’s law, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Network effects, new economy, peer-to-peer, post scarcity, prediction markets, pre–internet, profit motive, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, remote working, RFID, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, social graph, social web, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, too big to fail, US Airways Flight 1549, web application, zero-sum game

All the things we did know about were hokey and local, or the same thing our entire nation knew about because the tastemakers decided to make it, advertise it and pay the price to put it on the retailers’ shelves. Only the tastemakers could afford the reach that goes with mass. We got to choose one of the options available on the shelf. We got to choose one of the few shows on free-to-air television. The system didn’t support niche like it does now. The cultural phenomena that resulted from the system were powerful indeed. The Rubik’s cube, breakdancing, BMX bikes, cabbage patch dolls, sitcoms, teenage mutant ninja turtles, video cassette recorders, the walkman, aerobics, legwarmers, Coke vs Pepsi, Band Aid, hair metal, Beverly Hills Cop, Nintendo, PAC-MAN and glow worms were all picked by someone else, someone who decided we needed them to enhance our human existence. And they were right. Of course we wanted them. We wanted to express our human emotions and this was what was available at the time.


pages: 232 words: 77,956

Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else by James Meek

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, business continuity plan, call centre, clean water, Deng Xiaoping, Etonian, HESCO bastion, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Martin Wolf, medical bankruptcy, Mikhail Gorbachev, post-industrial society, pre–internet, price mechanism, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Washington Consensus, working poor

The piloti – stilt-like struts cut in from the building’s outside edge at ground level – of the high towers are shared with Le Corbusier’s modernist étalon, the Marseille Unité d’Habitation (which is smaller), but the most striking feature of the blocks, to the non-architect, are the superfluous details that depart from Le Corbusier’s functional modernism: the flying cornices, concrete frames like giant handles that jut from the tower roofs, and the frog-green bosses studding the beige brick façades. The initial effect is of some vast, elegant set of combination locks, or duochrome Rubik’s cubes, poised at any moment to whirr and counterspin, floor by floor, to trigger the catch on some deeper, hidden secret. Yet familiarity humanises it. You become aware not only of how soaked in light it is but of the architects’ legacy to the people who live there. Close to Roman Road is a crescent of red brick bungalows for the elderly, grouped around a garden with a fountain and a bronze sculpture by Elizabeth Frink, The Blind Beggar and His Dog.


pages: 255 words: 77,849

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

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banking crisis, Bob Geldof, Donald Trump, ghettoisation, Live Aid, mail merge, period drama, Rubik’s Cube, wage slave

I don’t want to be thirty-eight and so obsessed with twittering at my followers (whom I have NEVER MET) and getting poked at that I lose the ability to really LIVE. Please remember that you were very happy before you got into all this techno-business. You may bang on about how I need to learn things from the future, but you’d do very well to learn a few things from the past. And if you really want some kind of technology, what’s wrong with the Rubik’s cube? That is HARD. *punches air, collapses exhausted to the floor* Phew! Gosh, that was a jolly good bit of public speaking, wasn’t it? I’m very talented. I am clearly wasted as an office manager and should defo-pants be prime minister. ‘You can learn from the past.’ I like that. I am pleased with that and I am glad I have made my point. ‘We must remember to also learn from the past.’ Yes, that’s great.


pages: 238 words: 75,994

A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh

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A. Roger Ekirch, big-box store, card file, dark matter, game design, index card, megacity, megastructure, Minecraft, off grid, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, smart cities, statistical model, the built environment, urban planning

He actually seemed somewhat taken aback when I explained that I was interested in his work from an architectural point of view. Rather, Alizade works in the niche world of the design of safe rooms—more popularly known as panic rooms. Alizade greeted me at the front door in jeans and a half-zip black fleece sweater. He is built more like a linebacker than a businessman. He is stout, broad-shouldered, and has large hands; he gestured with them often as he spoke, twisting and turning them as if solving an invisible Rubik’s Cube in order to explain how his products were made. Despite his chosen field of security design and his physical resemblance to someone more likely to be leading tours through the Alaskan outback, he is jovial, prone to quick jokes and laughter. After graduating with an engineering degree from Auburn University, and following a stint in Vietnam, Alizade joined the New Jersey State police force.


pages: 223 words: 77,566

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, blue-collar work, cognitive dissonance, late fees, medical malpractice, obamacare, payday loans, Peter Thiel, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, unbiased observer, upwardly mobile, working poor

But there is also recognition of my own limitations and my willingness to separate myself from Mom when engagement means too little money to pay my own bills or too little patience left over for the people who matter most. That’s the uneasy truce I’ve struck with myself, and it works for now. People sometimes ask whether I think there’s anything we can do to “solve” the problems of my community. I know what they’re looking for: a magical public policy solution or an innovative government program. But these problems of family, faith, and culture aren’t like a Rubik’s Cube, and I don’t think that solutions (as most understand the term) really exist. A good friend, who worked for a time in the White House and cares deeply about the plight of the working class, once told me, “The best way to look at this might be to recognize that you probably can’t fix these things. They’ll always be around. But maybe you can put your thumb on the scale a little for the people at the margins.”


pages: 552 words: 168,518

MacroWikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World by Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, airport security, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Bretton Woods, business climate, business process, car-free, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cloud computing, collaborative editing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, demographic transition, distributed generation, don't be evil, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, Exxon Valdez, failed state, fault tolerance, financial innovation, Galaxy Zoo, game design, global village, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, hive mind, Home mortgage interest deduction, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, medical bankruptcy, megacity, mortgage tax deduction, Netflix Prize, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shock, old-boy network, online collectivism, open borders, open economy, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, scientific mainstream, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social web, software patent, Steve Jobs, text mining, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, transfer pricing, University of East Anglia, urban sprawl, value at risk, WikiLeaks, X Prize, young professional, Zipcar

It turns out that scientific openness is expanding way beyond papers and even data to the very building blocks of life itself, all thanks to a burgeoning field called synthetic biology that applies engineering principles to building new biological systems ranging from food to fuel to medicine. That’s a pretty big idea, so here are the basics. Imagine that all of life’s complexity could be boiled down to a library of interoperating components. The basic fundamentals of life, all indexed, open to the public, and waiting to be reassembled into new creations in the same fashion as one might twist and scramble a Rubik’s cube. Call it the open-source library of life. Now picture an Olympic-size gymnasium full of lab students building new organisms and life forms. It’s not a science fiction movie; it’s for real. And every year since 2004, thousands of lab students from around the world gather at MIT for the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition. Once there, they spend the entire summer building biological systems from standardized parts and then operating them in living cells.

The bottom line is that the opportunity to bring customers, suppliers, and other third parties into the enterprise as co-creators of value presents one of the most exciting, long-term engines of change and innovation that the world has seen. But innovation processes will need to be fundamentally reconfigured if businesses and other organizations are to seize the opportunity. Just as you can twist and scramble a Rubik’s cube, customers and other collaborators will reconfigure and build on your products and services for their own ends. And whether we’re talking about government, health care, education, or beyond, static, immovable, noneditable items will be anathema—ripe for the dustbins of twentieth-century history. 2. RETHINK THE COMMONS In this book we have argued that all organizations should abandon their fortress mentality and open up, not only by communicating pertinent information to stakeholders, but also by sharing some of their assets, within their business network or beyond.


pages: 685 words: 203,949

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anton Chekhov, Bayesian statistics, big-box store, business process, call centre, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Eratosthenes, Exxon Valdez, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, impulse control, index card, indoor plumbing, information retrieval, invention of writing, iterative process, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, life extension, meta analysis, meta-analysis, more computing power than Apollo, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, pre–internet, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Turing test, ultimatum game, zero-sum game

Students who were stymied by a calculus problem the day it was presented are able to solve it more easily after a night’s sleep than an equivalent amount of waking time. New information and concepts appear to be quietly practiced while we’re asleep, sometimes showing up in dreams. A night of sleep more than doubles the likelihood that you’ll solve a problem requiring insight. Many people remember the first day they played with a Rubik’s Cube. That night they report that their dreams were disturbed by images of those brightly colored squares and of them rotating and clicking in their sleep. The next day, they are much better at the game—while asleep, their brains had extracted principles of where things were, relying on both their conscious perceptions of the previous day and myriad unconscious perceptions. Researchers found the same thing when studying Tetris players’ dreams.

., 191–92 Randi, James, 253, 346 randomization, 349 random sequences, 226–27 rare events, 256, 385–96 RBC Royal Bank, 274 reCAPTCHAs, 118–19 recency effect, 55, 408n56 regret, 264–66 rehearsal, 68–69, 374–75, 408n56 Reithofer, Norbert, 284 reminders, 124–25, 213, 301 Rentfrow, Jason, 196, 305, 376 representativeness heuristic, 228–29 research ethics, 348–49 resource limitations, 11, 19–20 risk assessment, 216, 221–22, 238–48, 264–66 Ritalin, 168, 171 Robinson, Marilynne, 375–76 Roman culture, 288 Rosch, Eleanor, 32, 56–57 Ross, Lee, xxii, 146–48, 339–40, 347 Rothbart, Mick, 154, 429n153 Rubik’s Cube, 185 rule of the designated place, 83, 83–86 RxList.com, 342 Sacks, Oliver, 92 Sand, George (Amantine Dupin), 283 Sandberg, Sheryl, 68 Sanger, Lawrence, 331, 333, 472n335 satisficing, 4–5, 276, 312 scheduling, 195–96, 211–14 Shultz, George, 156 Searle, John, 137–39, 141 selective focus, 18, 52, 177 selective migration, 196 selective windowing, 345 self-confidence, 200, 201, 429n153, 444n198 self-discipline, 208 self-presentation advantage, 148 Seneca the Younger, 14 sensory limitations, 165 September 11 terrorist attacks, 52–53, 456n256 serendipity, 377–78 shadow work, 19, 103, 341 Shakespeare, William, 292 Shannon, Claude, 311, 313–14, 316–18 Shapiro, Robert, 122, 124, 299 Shepard, Roger, 22, 58, 294, 304–5 Shinohara, Katsuto, 351 side effects, 231, 234, 239–41, 245–47, 265, 385, 391, 395 Simon, Herbert, 4 Simon, Paul, 73 Simons, Daniel, 12 Simons, Jonathan, 241 situational categories, 62 situational explanations, 145–46 Skinner, B.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

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impulse control, Mason jar, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, telemarketer, Y2K

She looked up at the vultures and immediately realized what was going on, and brought over a giant blue plastic tarp to help me cover Barnaby. We put heavy rocks all around the edges of the tarp and the vultures looked pissed, but I was so grateful I cried. Then I went inside and took a very, very long shower. When I came back out I realized that vultures are surprisingly strong, and that the blue plastic tarp had become a kind of vulture Rubik’s Cube, each of the birds trying a corner to get it all solved. I was having a nervous breakdown, but at least I was bringing the vulture community together. My friend Laura (yes, the same one who’d dragged me to wine country) noticed that my Twitter stream was filled with updates about vultures, and machetes, and dead dogs, and how glad I am that Cartoon Network exists, and so she called. I was all, “I’m fine,” and she very plaintively said, “Well, you don’t sound fine.


pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Haight Ashbury, Hyperloop, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, technological singularity, telepresence, telerobotics, the medium is the message, the scientific method, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, V2 rocket, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Yogi Berra

Unfortunately, the Volna rocket that was launched from a Russian submarine in June 2005 failed, and Cosmos 1 went to the bottom of the Barents Sea.17 Solar-sail development has continued, but the ambitions and the size of the sails have been scaled back. A team from NASA built NanoSail-D, based on the CubeSat specifications. CubeSat is a miniaturized satellite designed to spur space research by using standard components and off-the-shelf electronics. A CubeSat is a bit bigger than a Rubik’s Cube—10 centimeters on a side and weighing less than 1.3 kilograms. Most CubeSat launches have come from academia, but companies such as Boeing have built CubeSats, and amateur satellite builders have gotten their projects off the ground using crowdfunding campaigns on websites such as Kickstarter. NASA’s NanoSail-D was designed to use three CubeSats to de- ploy triangular sails totaling 10 square meters.


pages: 292 words: 97,911

Truths, Half Truths and Little White Lies by Nick Frost

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

Alexander Shulgin, call centre, David Attenborough, hive mind, impulse control, job-hopping, Norman Mailer, Rubik’s Cube

Something always needs to be on. *** Back home, high and cocky from my brush with the law, I poke my head around the door to the lounge and Mum and Dad are sat in silence, telly off. How long had they been there? How long were they planning on being there? In the middle of the room, in the middle of our mint-green carpet, was a giant lump, my giant lump of hash. It looks exactly like a brown Rubik’s cube but obviously a lot easier to solve. Trouble now breaks out. Not a row, just a kind of Category C rumble with a drug pro and con to-and-fro-type parent deal. To be fair they make a compelling argument but I’m high, the guys are waiting, and I’d like to be higher. My counter comes in the shape of a rat out. I decide to point out to Dad that me and Mum have indeed smoked hash together. This should relieve some of the pressure.


pages: 325 words: 110,330

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace

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Albert Einstein, business climate, buy low sell high, complexity theory, fear of failure, Golden Gate Park, iterative process, Menlo Park, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, Wall-E

Rich Moore, whose first animated feature for Disney was Wreck-It Ralph, likens the Braintrust to a bunch of people who are each working on their own puzzles. (Since John and I took over at Disney Animation, that studio has adopted this tradition of candor as well.) Somehow, and perhaps especially because they have less invested, a director who’s struggling with his own dilemmas can see another director’s struggles more clearly than his own. “It’s like I can put my crossword puzzle away and help you with your Rubik’s Cube a little bit,” is how he puts it. Bob Peterson, a member of the Braintrust who has helped write (and provide voices for) eleven Pixar films, uses another analogy to describe the Braintrust. He calls it “the grand eye of Sauron”—a reference to the lidless, all-seeing character in the Lord of the Rings trilogy—because when it focuses on you, there’s no avoiding its gaze. But the Braintrust is benevolent.


pages: 250 words: 87,722

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

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automated trading system, bash_history, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, collateralized debt obligation, computerized markets, drone strike, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial intermediation, Flash crash, High speed trading, latency arbitrage, pattern recognition, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Sergey Aleynikov, Small Order Execution System, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, the new new thing, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Vanguard fund

This emphasis on speed was absurd: No matter how fast the investor moved, he would never outrun the high-frequency traders. Speeding up his stock market order merely reduced the time it took for him to arrive in HFT’s various traps. “But how do you prove that a millisecond is irrelevant?” Brad asked. He threw the problem to the Puzzle Masters. The team had expanded to include Larry Yu, whom Brad thought of as the guy with the box of Rubik’s cubes under his desk. (The standard 3x3-inch cube he could solve in under thirty seconds, and so he kept it oiled with WD-40 to make it spin faster. His cube box held more challenging ones: a 4x4-incher, a 5x5-incher, a giant irregularly shaped one, and so on.) Yu generated two charts, which Brad projected onto the screen for the investors. To see anything in the stock market, you have to stop trying to see it with your eyes and instead attempt to imagine it as it might appear to a computer, if a computer had eyes.


pages: 364 words: 99,897

The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

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23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Brian Krebs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, connected car, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Brooks, disintermediation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, distributed ledger, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, fiat currency, future of work, global supply chain, Google X / Alphabet X, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lifelogging, litecoin, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mikhail Gorbachev, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, offshore financial centre, open economy, Parag Khanna, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Satoshi Nakamoto, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, social graph, software as a service, special economic zone, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, underbanked, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, young professional

His task was simple: identify ways in which the information environment might be enhanced for Marines on the ground in isolated parts of Afghanistan, so that the Marines kill more Taliban fighters and the Taliban fighters kill fewer Marines. The captain and his colleagues got behind a technology from Palantir, a Palo Alto–based company named after the Palantiri all-seeing stones in Lord of the Rings. The company is run by Alex Karp, an eccentric Stanford social theory PhD whose hobbies include solving Rubik’s Cubes and qi gong meditation. Karp was a student under Jürgen Habermas, the German philosopher and sociologist famous for his notion of the public sphere and its importance as a free discussion forum where public opinion is formed. From 2005 to 2008 the CIA was Palantir’s sole customer. Since 2010, Palantir has also designed software systems for the NSA, the FBI, and the US military. Palantir specializes in data management, transforming massive and often messy data into visualized maps and charts.


pages: 389 words: 109,207

Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street by William Poundstone

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, asset allocation, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, correlation coefficient, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, high net worth, index fund, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Myron Scholes, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, publish or perish, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, short selling, speech recognition, statistical arbitrage, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, traveling salesman, value at risk, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

Shannon was a perfectionist who did not like to publish unless every question had been answered and even the prose was flawless. Before he’d moved to MIT, Shannon had published seventy-eight scientific articles. From 1958 through 1974, he published only nine articles. In the following decade, before Alzheimer’s disease ended his career all too decisively, the total published output of Claude Shannon consisted of a single article. It was on juggling. Shannon also worked on an article, never published, on Rubik’s cube. The open secret at MIT was that one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century had all but stopped doing research—to play with toys. “Some wondered whether he was depressed,” said Paul Samuelson. Others saw it as part of an almost pathologically self-effacing personality. “One unfamiliar with the man might easily assume that anyone who had made such an enormous impact must have been a promoter with a supersalesman-like personality,” said mathematician Elwyn Berlekamp.


pages: 307 words: 102,734

The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River by Dan Morrison

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airport security, colonial rule, indoor plumbing, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Potemkin village, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley

Meanwhile, the people are cutting down more and more of the trees to cook their supper. While rainfall causes things to be green, it’s also true that green—trees and grasses—sustains rain through the humidity it creates, and with fewer trees there’s less rain. And fewer clouds mean there’s more sunshine, more evaporation. It’s the same phenomenon that turned the Sahara from a savanna to desert.” “One hell of a Rubik’s Cube,” Schon said, distracted by the relentless flow of boda-bodas, mutatu minivan taxis and lorries. “Thanks, Perfesser.” Omar Wadda greeted us at his plain office and had us sign his guestbook. He was a little stocky, with eyeglasses and a head of receding white hair, and he exuded the easy competence of a career civil servant. He’d been on the front lines of the hyacinth wars in the 1990s, he said, when the weed covered more than ten percent of the lake’s surface, about forty-six square miles.


pages: 289 words: 85,315

Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh

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Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, kremlinology, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, Rubik’s Cube, Simon Singh, Wolfskehl Prize

They became widely known as the ‘Questions of the Sphinx’, on account of the large prizes offered to anyone who could master them. Strangely this autobiography was written in 1928, seventeen years after Loyd’s death. Loyd passed his cunning on to his son, also called Sam, who was the real author of the book, knowing full well that anybody buying it would mistakenly assume that it had been written by the more famous Sam Loyd Senior. Loyd’s most famous creation was the Victorian equivalent of the Rubik’s Cube, the ‘14–15’ puzzle, which is still found in toyshops today. Fifteen tiles numbered 1 to 15 are arranged in a 4 × 4 grid, and the aim is to slide the tiles and rearrange them into the correct order. Loyd’s offered a significant reward to whoever could complete the puzzle by swapping the ‘ 14’ and ‘15’ into their proper positions via any series of tile slides. Loyd’s son wrote about the fuss generated by this tangible but essentially mathematical puzzle: A prize of $1,000, offered for the first correct solution to the problem, has never been claimed, although there are thousands of persons who say they performed the required feat.


pages: 462 words: 172,671

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin

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continuous integration, database schema, domain-specific language, don't repeat yourself, Donald Knuth, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, finite state, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, iterative process, place-making, Rubik’s Cube, web application, WebSocket

private boolean setArgument(char argChar) throws ArgsException { ArgumentMarshaler m = marshalers.get(argChar); if (m == null) return false; try { if (m instanceof BooleanArgumentMarshaler) setBooleanArg(m, currentArgument); else if (m instanceof StringArgumentMarshaler) setStringArg(m); else if (m instanceof IntegerArgumentMarshaler) setIntArg(m); } catch (ArgsException e) { valid = false; errorArgumentId = argChar; throw e; } return true; } --- private void setBooleanArg(ArgumentMarshaler m, Iterator<String> currentArgument) throws ArgsException { try { m.set(”true”); catch (ArgsException e) { } } Didn’t we just put that exception processing in? Putting things in so you can take them out again is pretty common in refactoring. The smallness of the steps and the need to keep the tests running means that you move things around a lot. Refactoring is a lot like solving a Rubik’s cube. There are lots of little steps required to achieve a large goal. Each step enables the next. Why did we pass that iterator when setBooleanArg certainly doesn’t need it? Because setIntArg and setStringArg will! And because I want to deploy all three of these functions through an abstract method in ArgumentMarshaller, I need to pass it to setBooleanArg. So now setBooleanArg is useless. If there were a set function in ArgumentMarshaler, we could call it directly.


pages: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, c2.com, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer vision, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Conway, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, off grid, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

The way we can use technologies to increase choices for others is by encouraging science, innovation, education, literacies, and pluralism. In my own experience this principle has never failed: In any game, increase your options. There are two kinds of games in the universe: finite games and infinite games. A finite game is played to win. Card games, poker rounds, games of chance, bets, sports such as football, board games such as Monopoly, races, marathons, puzzles, Tetris, Rubik’s Cube, Scrabble, sudoku, online games such as World of Warcraft, and Halo—all are finite games. The game ends when someone wins. An infinite game, on the other hand, is played to keep the game going. It does not terminate because there is no winner. Finite games require rules that remain constant. The game fails if the rules change during the game. Altering rules during play is unforgivable, the very definition of unfairness.


pages: 460 words: 122,556

The End of Wall Street by Roger Lowenstein

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Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, break the buck, Brownian motion, Carmen Reinhart, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, fixed income, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, interest rate derivative, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, Martin Wolf, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Northern Rock, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, race to the bottom, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, the payments system, too big to fail, tulip mania, Y2K

Greenspan replied that he wouldn’t have been able to get it through Congress. ak The Wall Street Journal sharply opined, “The Treasury Secretary has set a terrible precedent, leaving subordinate debt holders at other large financial institutions to calculate that they too will receive a government bailout if they stumble.” al A graphic depiction of AIG’s corporate structure resembled a financial Rubik’s Cube, with names of subsidiaries stretching thirteen columns across and extending twenty-five rows down. am Dimon, like Thain, had been involved in LTCM, but they were not yet CEOs. an Diamond likened this to a “reverse Spinco.” Instead of spinning off Lehman’s bad assets, as the Lehman bankers had proposed, Barclays would acquire the good assets, leaving a rump collection of toxic loans for the banks.


pages: 458 words: 134,028

Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes by Mark Penn, E. Kinney Zalesne

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, big-box store, call centre, corporate governance, David Brooks, Donald Trump, extreme commuting, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, glass ceiling, God and Mammon, Gordon Gekko, haute couture, hygiene hypothesis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, index card, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, labor-force participation, late fees, life extension, low skilled workers, mobile money, new economy, RAND corporation, Renaissance Technologies, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Rubik’s Cube, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Superbowl ad, the payments system, Thomas L Friedman, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty, white picket fence, women in the workforce, Y2K

In the James Bond movies—beyond the women and the fight scenes—one of the highlights of nearly every film is Bond’s visit to the labs of Agent Q, who shows off the latest technological inventions that (lo and behold) come in perfectly handy later on. And of course, Quincy got all this forensic frenzy started back in the 1970s. And, to be fair, to whatever degree modern generations of kids have grown up on Barbies and fire trucks, they have also grown up on chemistry sets, Operation, Slinkys, and Rubik’s Cube. But without a doubt, in the past fifteen years, science has gotten a big boost. Educators from Carl Sagan to Bill Nye the Science Guy to even Al Gore have done significant work to bring complex science to America in terms and pictures that everyone can understand. And in movies like 1997’s Good Will Hunting and 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, we learned to find math and science geniuses wildly compelling.


pages: 561 words: 114,843

Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website by Matt Blumberg

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, airport security, Albert Einstein, bank run, Broken windows theory, crowdsourcing, deskilling, fear of failure, high batting average, high net worth, hiring and firing, Inbox Zero, James Hargreaves, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, pattern recognition, performance metric, pets.com, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype

Former Quickoffice CEO Alan Masarek on Aligning Resources with Strategy Alan Masarek is one of the most disciplined business operators I know. (Google must have thought so too: they recently acquired his company Quickoffice.) To open this section, I have asked him to talk about the nexus of resources and strategy. The job of a startup CEO is generally tougher than that of running a more established company. Startup CEOs face a veritable Rubik’s Cube of challenges, trying to run companies with constrained resources while operating in developing markets. This fundamental challenge is the essence of what this section attempts to define. Simply stated, how can startup CEOs align their constrained cash and human resources alongside business strategies that will inevitably change as their targeted markets evolve? I believe most CEOs intellectually understand that their targeted market segments will change frequently.


pages: 433 words: 125,031

Brazillionaires: The Godfathers of Modern Brazil by Alex Cuadros

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affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, big-box store, BRICs, cognitive dissonance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, family office, high net worth, index fund, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, NetJets, offshore financial centre, profit motive, rent-seeking, risk/return, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, We are the 99%, William Langewiesche

The first brand belonged to Walter Faria, the second to the Schincariol brothers—some of the first hidden billionaires I uncovered. It wasn’t long before billionaires started showing up in my dreams. Eventually I looked beyond consumer brands. In a downtown subway station, a plaque announced the contractor who had laid the subway line: Camargo Corrêa. In Rio I’d seen a building that resembles grayscale Rubik’s cubes arranged in Jenga stacks midplay. It’s the headquarters of Petrobras, the state oil company, but it was built by a private company known as Odebrecht. Camargo and Odebrecht both were family-owned—and huge, raking in many billions of dollars in revenues each year. I realized I was looking at two of Brazil’s richest families. They made way more money than Eike Batista but were nowhere on the Forbes list.


pages: 397 words: 110,130

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

3D printing, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Benjamin Mako Hill, butterfly effect, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Edward Thorp, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Gunnar Myrdal, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, iterative process, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, patent troll, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Socratic dialogue, spaced repetition, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, Vannevar Bush, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, X Prize, éminence grise

“It’s basically the same material they make Lego bricks out of, so it’s pretty tough,” he noted. Kids swarmed around to design their own objects. It’s these kids, who have free time and no preconceptions, who will likely be the ones to domesticate 3-D printing, just as they were the first to domesticate computers, printers, Photoshop, and video-editing software. Over at sites like Shapeways or Ponoko or Thingiverse, creators post designs for everything from iPad racks to Rubik’s Cube–like puzzles. Many are “open,” which means anyone can download them, customize them, and print a copy themselves—learning gradually by remixing existing works, much as we learn to write by copying or imitating others. What literacy will 3-D printing offer? How will it help us think in new ways? By making the physical world plastic, it could usher in a new phase in design thinking. 3-D printers allow us to meditate on physical solutions to physical questions.

The America That Reagan Built by J. David Woodard

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affirmative action, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, colonial rule, Columbine, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, friendly fire, glass ceiling, global village, Gordon Gekko, gun show loophole, income inequality, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, laissez-faire capitalism, late capitalism, Live Aid, Marc Andreessen, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Neil Kinnock, new economy, postindustrial economy, Ralph Nader, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, stem cell, Ted Kaczynski, The Predators' Ball, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, Y2K, young professional

Coke was losing market share to its competitor, so on April 23, 1985, ‘‘New Coke,’’ a sweeter variant on the original, was released with great fanfare. By the middle of June, people were saying ‘‘no’’ to New Coke. The reaction was nationwide, with the recent product called ‘‘furniture polish’’ and ‘‘sewer water.’’ Within weeks ‘‘Coke Classic’’ returned to the market, and the company stock jumped 36 percent. Only in America could a marketing disaster turn into company profit. For entertainment, Americans fooled with Rubik’s Cube, a plastic square with its surface subdivided so that each face consisted of nine squares. Rotation of each face allowed the smaller cubes to be arranged in different ways. The challenge, undertaken by millions of addicts, was to return the cube from any given state to its original array with each face consisting of nine squares of the same color. Kids still rode bicycles around the neighborhood, swam in local pools, and used little CB radios to talk to each other.


pages: 1,737 words: 491,616

Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

I knew that he competed at the national level in mathematical and computing olympiads, which sufficed to attract my attention for a closer look; but I didn’t know yet if he could learn to think about AI. I had asked Marcello to say how he thought an AI might discover how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Not in a preprogrammed way, which is trivial, but rather how the AI itself might figure out the laws of the Rubik universe and reason out how to exploit them. How would an AI invent for itself the concept of an “operator,” or “macro,” which is the key to solving the Rubik’s Cube? At some point in this discussion, Marcello said: “Well, I think the AI needs complexity to do X, and complexity to do Y—” And I said, “Don’t say ‘complexity.’” Marcello said, “Why not?” I said, “Complexity should never be a goal in itself. You may need to use a particular algorithm that adds some amount of complexity, but complexity for the sake of complexity just makes things harder.”

Outside their own professions, people often commit the misstep of trying to broaden a word as widely as possible, to cover as much territory as possible. Is it not more glorious, more wise, more impressive, to talk about all the apples in the world? How much loftier it must be to explain human thought in general, without being distracted by smaller questions, such as how humans invent techniques for solving a Rubik’s Cube. Indeed, it scarcely seems necessary to consider specific questions at all; isn’t a general theory a worthy enough accomplishment on its own? It is the way of the curious to lift up one pebble from among a million pebbles on the shore, and see something new about it, something interesting, something different. You call these pebbles “diamonds,” and ask what might be special about them—what inner qualities they might have in common, beyond the glitter you first noticed.


pages: 728 words: 182,850

Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter

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3D printing, A Pattern Language, carbon footprint, centre right, Community Supported Agriculture, Computer Numeric Control, crowdsourcing, Donald Knuth, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, fear of failure, food miles, functional fixedness, hacker house, haute cuisine, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, iterative process, Parkinson's law, placebo effect, random walk, Rubik’s Cube, slashdot, stochastic process, the scientific method

So when you get stuck on one of these problems even though you’re working in a wider circle, how do you go about getting unstuck? That’s an interesting question. Let me deviate from that slightly and then I’ll come back. Most people are familiar with the scientific method, which is holding everything exactly the same and changing this one thing. This reminds me of people trying to do one side of the Rubik’s Cube. Most of the good methods don’t involve getting any side. That’s the last thing you do. So people get stuck because they don’t want to toss in the towel on the progress they think they’ve made so far. So if you want to make it past one level, you may have to scrap your whole methodology and just start over. And you see that with pizzas. Art begins where engineering ends. Engineering is about taking what’s known and carrying it to its logical conclusion.


pages: 666 words: 181,495

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

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23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business process, clean water, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, discounted cash flows, don't be evil, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, El Camino Real, fault tolerance, Firefox, Gerard Salton, Gerard Salton, Google bus, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Googley, HyperCard, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, one-China policy, optical character recognition, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Potemkin village, prediction markets, recommendation engine, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, search inside the book, second-price auction, selection bias, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, trade route, traveling salesman, turn-by-turn navigation, Vannevar Bush, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

That hurdle was overcome only because he had gotten the highest recommendation from an early Googler. But Ivester’s experience showed that Google could accommodate exceptions to its standards. Just as in the case of elite institutions, the stray C or a non-Mensa SAT score could be trumped by an accomplishment that indicated that one was special. “It’s like they did some crazy skiing thing or could do the Rubik’s cube better than anybody,” says early employee Megan Smith. Stacy Sullivan could recall having trouble hiring someone in international sales—until she noted that his résumé cited a foosball championship in Italy. “That’s pretty good,” said Sergey. “We can hire him.” If the guy worked that hard at something, the logic went, he’d probably be pretty good at selling ads. And if you were stuck at the airport with him, you’d have the best foosball conversation ever.


pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay

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3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, digital map, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marchetti’s constant, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, white picket fence, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Worth, which laid down most of its seven runways in 1972. The price tag is staggering and the benefits modest—the biggest dig in American history will increase capacity by only 20 percent. While that’s enough to retake the title and reduce delays, the cost-effectiveness of the endeavor seems a bit skewed. Much of the time, energy, and money will be spent on the contortions necessary to solve the airport’s layout like a Rubik’s Cube. The taxpayers won’t foot the bill—not the local ones, anyway. Daley vowed to pay for it all with a mixture of bonds, fees, federal funds, and checks from the airlines, which were crying poverty even before $150 oil and the recession. With the first $3 billion in hand, work began on the runways in summer 2007, nearly a year behind schedule and already a billion dollars over budget. I paid a visit to the OMP’s headquarters that spring and discovered a warren of bright and earnest engineers wrestling with manuals a foot thick and spilling over every available surface.


pages: 713 words: 203,688

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco by Bryan Burrough, John Helyar

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buy low sell high, corporate raider, Donald Trump, Gordon Gekko, margin call, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, shareholder value, South Sea Bubble

Behind his back, the two cousins began to grouse that Kohlberg was holding them back. “Jerry was older, and he never wanted to work as hard,” Roberts recalled. “The reason Jerry was so negative was that he wasn’t reading and understanding what was going on.” As the firm grew—by 1983, it had eight deal makers, by 1988, fifteen—tensions rose. Factions developed. Junk bonds produced an ever more complicated stream of Rubik’s Cube financial structures. Kravis and Roberts were so busy Kohlberg could no longer keep abreast of every deal. Outside parties began shouldering more and more of the daily work, and Kravis and Roberts soon were orchestrating small armies of investment bankers and lawyers. “Jerry began to pull back,” says his longtime friend George Peck, a Kohlberg Kravis consultant. “He was less comfortable with all that.


pages: 272 words: 19,172

Hedge Fund Market Wizards by Jack D. Schwager

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asset-backed security, backtesting, banking crisis, barriers to entry, beat the dealer, Bernie Madoff, Black-Scholes formula, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commodity trading advisor, computerized trading, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delta neutral, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Thorp, family office, financial independence, fixed income, Flash crash, hindsight bias, implied volatility, index fund, intangible asset, James Dyson, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, merger arbitrage, money market fund, oil shock, pattern recognition, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, private sector deleveraging, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, riskless arbitrage, Rubik’s Cube, Sharpe ratio, short selling, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, systematic trading, technology bubble, transaction costs, value at risk, yield curve

We talked in a conference room that was memorable for its unusual color: orange. When discussing trading strategies, Platt speaks at a speed that is somewhere between a rushed New Yorker and the fast-talking executive in the famous Fed Ex commercial. When the topic of conversation is a four-legged fixed income trade, keeping up with Platt can be a challenge. How did you get interested in markets? I have always liked puzzles. When I was 10 years old, my dad gave me a Rubik’s cube, and 36 hours later, I could do it from any position in under one minute. I always regarded financial markets as the ultimate puzzle because everyone is trying to solve it, and infinite wealth lies at the end of solving it. When you are solving any puzzle, you have to start off from the perspective “What do I know for sure?” Do I have any bedrock to start off my analysis? It’s shocking how little you know for certain in financial markets.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton

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anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, centre right, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, double helix, East Village, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, horn antenna, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jacques de Vaucanson, Kowloon Walled City, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Tunguska event, urban sprawl, Vesna Vulović, white picket fence, wikimedia commons, working poor

By 2006 he had accumulated over 40,000 mechanical puzzles, thanks in part to the International Puzzle Party, an annual private get-together for mechanical puzzle enthusiasts and traders, which Slocum inaugurated in 1978. In 2006, he donated over 30,000 of the puzzles to the Lilly Library at Indiana University to create the Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection. In addition to the staggering number of puzzles, Slocum also donated thousands of books about puzzles. Among the pieces on display (only a few hundred out of the thousands in the collection) are an archaic Rubik’s Cube with differing sizes of nails on each side, called a “texture cube”; a trick cup that seems normal until its drinker fills it too full and it drains away into the base; and more whimsical amusements like a Coke bottle with a wooden arrow through it. There are also countless intricate wooden geometrical curiosities that must be twisted and shifted together and apart. Today, visitors to the library can actually try out a number of the puzzles and see countless others sitting in displays, just waiting to be solved. 1200 East Seventh Street, Bloomington. 39.167906 86.518973 Around 30,000 manually operated mind-benders make up the Slocum puzzle collection.


pages: 855 words: 178,507

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick

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Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lifelogging, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce

She had rapidly mastered trigonometry and integral and differential calculus, and he told her mother privately that if he had encountered “such power” in a Cambridge student he would have anticipated “an original mathematical investigator, perhaps of first rate eminence.”♦ She was fearless about drilling down to first principles. Where she felt difficulties, real difficulties lay. One winter she grew obsessed with a fashionable puzzle known as Solitaire, the Rubik’s Cube of its day. Thirty-two pegs were arranged on a board with thirty-three holes, and the rules were simple: Any peg may jump over another immediately adjacent, and the peg jumped over is removed, until no more jumps are possible. The object is to finish with only one peg remaining. “People may try thousands of times, and not succeed in this,” she wrote Babbage excitedly. I have done it by trying & observation & can now do it at any time, but I want to know if the problem admits of being put into a mathematical Formula, & solved in this manner.… There must be a definite principle, a compound I imagine of numerical & geometrical properties, on which the solution depends, & which can be put into symbolic language.♦ A formal solution to a game—the very idea of such a thing was original.


The Art of Scalability: Scalable Web Architecture, Processes, and Organizations for the Modern Enterprise by Martin L. Abbott, Michael T. Fisher

always be closing, anti-pattern, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, business climate, business continuity plan, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, commoditize, Computer Numeric Control, conceptual framework, database schema, discounted cash flows, en.wikipedia.org, fault tolerance, finite state, friendly fire, hiring and firing, Infrastructure as a Service, inventory management, new economy, packet switching, performance metric, platform as a service, Ponzi scheme, RFC: Request For Comment, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, software as a service, the scientific method, transaction costs, Vilfredo Pareto, web application, Y2K

As such, we developed a cube that consists of concepts rather than rules. The cube on its own serves as a way to think about the whys of scale and helps create a bridge to the hows. The cube also serves to facilitate a common language for discussing different strategies, just as physics and math serve as the underlying languages for engineering discussions. Introducing the AKF Scale Cube Imagine first, if you will, a Rubik’s cube or classic colored children’s building block. Hold this imaginary block directly in from of you, or stare down directly at it so that you can only see a single face of the six faces. At this point, the cube is nothing more than a two-dimensional square, similar to the square seen in Figure 22.1. Figure 22.1 Starting Point of the AKF Scale Cube I NTRODUCING THE AKF S CALE C UBE Now take the cube in your hand and rotate it one-eighth of a turn to the left, such that the face to the right of the cube is visible and roughly the same size as the original face you had viewed of the cube.


pages: 913 words: 265,787

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, double helix, experimental subject, feminist movement, four colour theorem, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Henri Poincaré, income per capita, information retrieval, invention of agriculture, invention of the wheel, John von Neumann, lake wobegon effect, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Necker cube, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sexual politics, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, Turing machine, urban decay, Yogi Berra

The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. We can add that nothing in culture makes sense except in the light of psychology. Evolution created psychology, and that is how it explains culture. The most important relic of early humans is the modern mind. 4 THE MIND’S EYE To gaze is to think. —SALVADOR DALI Past decades had hula hoops, black-light posters, CB radios, and Rubik’s cube. The craze of the 1990s is the autostereogram, also called Magic Eye, Deep Vision, and Superstereogram. These are the computer-generated squiggles that when viewed with crossed eyes or a distant gaze spring into a vivid illusion of three-dimensional, razor-edged objects majestically suspended in space. The fad is now five years old and autostereograms are everywhere, from postcards to Web pages.


pages: 1,797 words: 390,698

Power at Ground Zero: Politics, Money, and the Remaking of Lower Manhattan by Lynne B. Sagalyn

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affirmative action, airport security, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, conceptual framework, corporate governance, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, estate planning, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, high net worth, informal economy, intermodal, iterative process, Jane Jacobs, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, place-making, rent control, Rosa Parks, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, the built environment, the High Line, time value of money, too big to fail, Torches of Freedom, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, white flight, young professional

“If this had been surface construction, it would have had coverage as if it were the Hoover Dam,” remarked Denise M. Richardson, executive director of the General Contractors Association. “The engineers were telling us we would be below ground for two to three years and that the public perception would be negative,” Coscia recalled when we spoke; “people would not know that we’re working and spending hundreds of millions of dollars. The site was a Rubik’s cube for years.” Several insiders tried to persuade Governor Pataki to let the agency shut down the No. 1 subway, but the governor was adamant about keeping it running, despite the cost of underpinning the subway to make continuous service possible. Temporarily taking the line out of service would have “cut an important transit link and angered commuters from Staten Island, a Republican stronghold, who use the No. 1 line after getting off the ferry,” David W.


pages: 1,234 words: 356,472

Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton

carbon-based life, clean water, corporate governance, Magellanic Cloud, megacity, nuclear winter, Plutocrats, plutocrats, random walk, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, stem cell, the scientific method, trade route, urban sprawl

For every tiny motion he made with his flesh and blood hand, the virtual one made a scaled-up movement, allowing him to select and manipulate icons. The system was standard across the Commonwealth, giving everyone who could afford an OCtattoo direct connection to the planetary cybersphere. He guessed that most of the businesspeople having breakfast around him were quietly interfacing with their office arrays. They had that daydreaming look about them. He pulled the appropriate key out of its store in his wrist array, represented by a Rubik’s Cube icon, which he had to twist until he’d arranged the surface squares into the correct pattern. The cube opened up, and he dropped the message icon inside. A single line of black text slid across his virtual vision: PAULA MYO IS ON VELAINES. Adam just managed to hold on to his coffee cup. “Shit!” Several nearby guests glanced over to him. He twitched his lips in an apologetic smile. The array had already wiped the message, now it was going through an elaborate junction overwrite procedure in case it was ever examined by a forensics retrieval system.


Caribbean Islands by Lonely Planet

Bartolomé de las Casas, big-box store, British Empire, buttonwood tree, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, discovery of the americas, Donald Trump, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, income inequality, intermodal, jitney, microcredit, offshore financial centre, place-making, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sustainable-tourism, urban planning, urban sprawl, white picket fence

There’s generally a good bus service on Saturday mornings, but Sunday service is often nonexistent. Buses can get crowded. As more and more people get on, children move onto their parents’ laps, kids share seats, people squeeze together and everyone generally accepts the cramped conditions with good humor. Whenever someone gets off the back of a crowded minivan, it takes on the element of a human Rubik’s Cube, with seats folding up and everyone shuffling; on some buses there’s actually a conductor to direct the seating. For specific details on buses by island, see the chapter Getting Around sections. Car & Motorcycle Driving in the Caribbean islands can rock your world, rattle your brains and fray your nerves. At first. Soon, you’ll get used to the chickens, goats, stray dogs and cows wandering the roadways.


pages: 3,292 words: 537,795

Lonely Planet China (Travel Guide) by Lonely Planet, Shawn Low

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, bike sharing scheme, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, credit crunch, Deng Xiaoping, haute couture, haute cuisine, income inequality, indoor plumbing, land reform, mass immigration, Pearl River Delta, place-making, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, South China Sea, special economic zone, sustainable-tourism, trade route, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, young professional

Boat tours on the Huangpu River operate from the Pearl Dock (Mingzhu Matou MAP GOOGLE MAP ; 1 Century Ave; tickets ¥100), next to the tower. Shanghai Science & Technology MuseumMUSEUM (Shanghai Kejiguan GOOGLE MAP ; %6862 2000; www.sstm.org.cn; 2000 Century Ave; adult/student/child under 1.3m ¥60/45/free; h9am-5.15pm Tue-Sun, last tickets 4.30pm; mScience & Technology Museum) You need to do a huge amount of walking to get about this seriously spaced-out museum but there are some fascinating exhibits, from relentless Rubik’s-cube-solving robots to mechanical archers. There's even the chance to take penalty kicks against a computerised goalkeeper. Riverside PromenadeWATERFRONT (Binjiang Dadao MAP GOOGLE MAP ; h6.30am-11pm; mLujiazui) Hands down the best stroll in Pudong. The sections of promenade alongside Riverside Ave on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River offer splendid views to the Bund across the way. Choicely positioned cafes look out over the water.