The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"Arthur looked up. "Ford!" he said, "there's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out."
"Ford," he said, "you're turning into a penguin. Stop it."
"But that's not the point!" raged Ford "The point is that I am now a perfectly safe penguin, and my colleague here is rapidly running out of limbs!""
Every time Donald Trump speaks a complete sentence, drink.
It isn't irony. It's just ignorance. I wonder who did it?
The structure of a diamond crystal is fascinating. But there’s an equally fascinating form of carbon, called the triamond, that’s theoretically possible but never yet seen in nature.
In the triamond, each carbon atom is bonded to three others at 120° angles, with one double bond and two single bonds. Its bonds lie in a plane, so we get a plane for each atom.
But here’s the tricky part: for any two neighboring atoms, these planes are different. In fact, if we draw the bond planes for all the atoms in the triamond, they come in four kinds, parallel to the faces of a regular tetrahedron!
If we discount the difference between single and double bonds, the triamond is highly symmetrical. There’s a symmetry carrying any atom and any of its bonds to any other atom and any of its bonds. However, the triamond has an inherent handedness, or chirality. It comes in two mirror-image forms.
Some chemists have argued that the triamond should be metastable at room temperature and pressure: that is, it should last for a while but eventually turn to graphite. Diamonds are also considered metastable, though I’ve never seen anyone pull an old diamond ring from their jewelry cabinet and discover to their shock that it’s turned to graphite. The big difference is that diamonds are formed naturally under high pressure — while triamonds, it seems, are not.
It's the mathematics behind the triamond that really interests me. It's a topological crystal that can be constructed starting from the complete graph on four vertices. For the details of how this works, see my Visual Insight blog article:
The picture here was made by Greg Egan.
- TripAdvisor Ireland LtdPrincipal Site Operations Engineer, 2014 - presentThe site must never go down.
- Site Reliability Engineer, 2006 - 2010Keeping the site up and working; consulting on software at world-scale; writing production infrastructure software.
- Sun Microsystems"Member of Technical Staff" (i.e. programmer), 1997 - 2001Software developer on the Jini project; also on the Java RMI team (part of jdk-dev).
- Trinity College, DublinComputer Science, 1990 - 1994
- O'Connell School (secondary school)1985 - 1990
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