The Klingon are a fictional extraterrestrial race from the American TV Franchise *Star Trek*, and have been given their own formal language (rather than speaking nonsense on screen) by linguist Marc Okrand. Although the Klingon language has its own writing system, words are commonly written in the Latin alphabet (which is used extensively by most Germanic and Romance languages including English and French). In Latin script different sounds are represented by varying capitalization (q has a different pronunciation from Q), so beginnings of sentences are, unlike English, not capitalized. A 2010 book by Arika Okrent suggests that there are about 20-30 fluent Klingon speakers, possibly since most of its known, or rather, invented, vocabulary refers to objects common in the Star Trek universe. There have been various works that have been translated into Klingon, including Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, The Epic of Gilgamesh, a version of A Christmas Carol and the Tao Te Ching. Finally there’s ‘u’, an opera performed in the “Klingon style”, first performed in September of 2010 in the Hague.

# Monthly Archives: November 2012

## The Klingon Language

Filed under Culture, Film and Television, Language

## Historical Bad@$$: Nikola Tesla

Yes, Tesla. The Serbian-American inventor who worked for Thomas Edison, who was obsessed with the number 3 and died broke trying to tend for an imaginary pigeon that shot lasers from its eyes (the term laser hadn’t been invented yet though). He has an SI unit named after him (the tesla, represented by the symbol T, is a measure of the strength of a magnetic field), and his inventions include no less than:

- Alternating Current (AC, still in use today)
- The light bulb (namely the fluorescent lamp, still in use today) and neon lighting
- Radio (Tesla let Marconi, the person credited with radio, use 17 of his, Tesla’s, patents)
- Radio (invented 18 years before the person credited with its invention)
- X-ray photography (Tesla x-rayed his own hand as a test, and he knew of the dangerous effects of x-rays)
- The remote control
- The electric motor
- Wireless communications

He also:

- Had the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls built
- Experimented in cryogenics
- Held patents for the predecessors of transistors (used in computers)
- Sent the first radio transmissions into space
- Determined the resonant frequency of the Earth
- Almost destroyed a New York suburb using a resonance machine (also known as an earthquake machine)
- Reproduced ball lightning in his laboratory (a feat not attained since)

Finally, Wardenclyffe.

Remember the Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant? Yeah, that was built to help provide cheap electricity to the Wardenclyffe Laboratory which would, get this, electrify the Earths atmosphere, providing free electricity to everyone. Unfortunately, the Wardenclyffe tower, from which electricity would be broadcasted, was destroyed in 1917. In October 2012 a crowd-funded project collected $1.37 million, plus a $850,000 grant from the state of New York, to build a museum to Nikola Tesla on the old Wardenclyffe grounds.

Filed under Historical Bad@$$, Science

## Tetration

As mentioned in the last post, 2↑↑2=4, but what does the ↑↑ symbol mean? ↑↑ is a symbol (there are many notation systems, like ^^) for the operation known as tetration. Anyone with a basic knowledge of mathematics will know that multiplication is just repeated addition, and that a*b is the same as adding a to itself b times. Exponentiation is similar, a^b is just a multiplied by itself b times. Tetration, now, is an extension of these. a↑↑b is a to the power of itself b times, so 3↑↑3=3^3^3. As you can probably tell, tetration makes big numbers quickly, and isn’t supported by many calculating devises, or at least not for very long. Here’s some tetration involving 2:

2^^1=2

2^^2=4

2^^3=16

2^^4=65536

2^^5=2^65536≈2*10^19728

And some involving 3:

3^^1=3

3^^2=27

3^^3=7625597484987

3^^4=3^7625597484987≈10^10^10^1.01

Filed under Mathematics

## Why Two is My Favorite Number

Many math geeks will pick a favorite number of theirs because of a certain property of said number. Some people choose *e*, the base of the natural logarithm, some choose π, the ratio between a circles circumference and its diameter, some clever few choose *i*, the square root of -1, and some people choose a natural number, that is, a positive integer, that has some significance to them, be it 17, 300, 132, or any other number. I choose two (2) as my favorite number and here’s why:

- 2 defines what numbers are even, and what numbers are odd.
- 2 is the first prime number, the smallest prime number and only even prime number. 2 and 3 are the only two consecutive primes.
- The decimal expansion of any simple fraction where the denominator is 2 will always terminate in a 5 or a 0, depending on whether the numerator is even or odd.
- 2 is the base of binary, the number system with the smallest base in which numbers can be written (relatively) easily.
- 2+2=2×2=2^2=2↑↑2=…=4. x↑↑y is called tetration, I’ll go over it later.
- 2 is its own factorial.
- 2 is part of a bunch of other special prime categories, like Fibonacci primes, Lucas primes, factorial primes.
- 2 is a highly composite number, meaning it has more positive whole number factors than any number less than it.
- There are two characters for two in Chinese, 二 and 两.
- 2 is the atomic number of helium, the first noble gas.
- Mersenne primes are found using powers of two.
- The square root of 2 (about 1.414) was the first irrational number to be discovered.
- 2 is the fewest number of dimensions needed for polygons to exist in geometry.
- And finally, a superficial one, my birthday is in February, the second month in the Gregorian calendar.

Filed under Mathematics