The IJA (International Juggling Association) is having their annual convention in El Paso, Texas this year. One of the main jugglers featured at the Cascade of Stars show at the end of the week is Emil Dahl. Like many exciting new jugglers in the past few years, he’s created a new kind of juggling. It’s called “Magnet Opus”. Below is a video of his work. Pretty neat.

# Monthly Archives: January 2016

# Largest known prime number

BBC News reports “Largest known prime number discovered in Missouri.” 22 million digits is a really, really, really long number. But what is it doing in Missouri? (hee hee). Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Seriously, it’s an impressive calculation!

Speaking of primes — natural numbers that can only be divided by 1 and the number itself — Brilliant.org has some fun prime number problems. Here’s one you might enjoy that I solved recently.

# Popular scientists

Seems like every generation has its “cool” scientist. Einstein was a popular scientist. Before we had television personalities, when people thought of a genius, they thought of Einstein.

Carl Sagan came along, and the “Cosmos” television series made him a scientist star. Following Einstein, Stephen Hawking brought genius back to popular science. Bill Nye the Science Guy became so well known that he eventually took over “The Planetary Society” from Sagan. Neil deGrasse Tyson is perhaps less well known, but he’s an excellent speaker and has continued the popularization of astronomy and scientific research. Michio Kaku has become a popular physicist on television for outside-the-box thinking. He isn’t afraid to tackle any wild idea in physics and explain it to the public.

So perhaps The Dancing Scientist will be next on the list. Go to and click on “Television shows” to see a sample of his work on television. He’s got a Masters in Biochemistry from UCLA, yet he dances to popularize science. I don’t know if he deserves to rank among the elite in my list above, but I am happy to see another scientist who is popularizing science (this time chemistry) for the public.

# Creative solution

If you’ve frequented my website, you know that I enjoy playing disc golf. But I am tired of wiping leaves, grass, and bugs off my bag, and having to find long sticks when my disc is stuck in bushes or trees.

Below is a photo of my new bag, cart, and retriever. The retriever is just a golf ball retriever that extends from a size I can fit in my bag (not quite length-wise, though) to almost 7 feet. It’s around $10 from Amazon.com, which is less than most other disc golf retrievers I’ve read about. It’s not as versatile for disc-in-the-water retrieval, but it’s really handy, inexpensive, and convenient to carry.

The cart is from the Clearwater Disc Golf Store in Clearwater, FL. It keeps my bag off the ground about 6″ and folds up easily to store. In the summer, I might put a small ice container under my bag to keep my drink(s) cold.

I’m always looking for creative outlets, and this solution allows me not only to keep my bag clean and avoid having to find long sticks, but also to concentrate on my throws and play rather than putting down and cleaning off my bag all the time.

# New in AI

MIT Technology Review recently wrote about “This AI Algorithm Learns Simple Tasks as Fast as We Do.” If the algorithm — Human-level concept learning through probabilistic program induction — can be extended to more complex tasks, it could be an improvement on Deep Learning techniques. Today’s AI generalizes from thousands of examples, but imagine if a robot could learn something new the way a person does from a single example.

# Innovative approaches to genealogy

If you are a beginner in genealogical research, often every article on the subject introduces something new. But once you get to a certain level of proficiency, this is no longer the case. So it’s always nice to find a new research paper, article, or lecture that is detailed with new ideas for searching. Such is the case with Pamela Weisberger — who sadly passed away suddenly in 2015 — whose lectures gave many genealogists new ideas to try.

# Mathlete update

Since the Old Miss Math Contest stopped providing new quizzes over a year ago, I have been working on the problems presented on Brilliant.org. I solve a few algebra, trig, geometry, and number theory problems each week to keep math-fit.

I enjoy most of the stumpers (when less than a quarter of the participants are correct), even the ones I get wrong. As I solve more problems in a particular subject, the problems presented are more difficult. I am at level 3 in Geometry and Combinatorics (statistics), and level 4 in Algebra.

Here’s a number theory problem I got recently that you might enjoy pondering (A>3, B=A+2, C=A+4; Are A,B,C all prime? — half the participants, including me, got that one right). Many of the problems I encounter are much tougher, such as “find the last two digits of 9 to the 9th to the 9th power” — only 30% got that one right.

I’m particularly fond of the geometry problems. For one recently it came in handy to know how to deal with an inscribed square in a triangle.