Category Archives: Education

learning in America

Srinivasa Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan

I am always interested in persons that have had a significant impact on our world. Moses, Jesus & Muhamad are great examples of individuals that were so impactful in their missions that three extremely powerful belief systems sprang from their examples. It is not clear if they intended for organized & enthusiastic religions to be the result, but at the core all three were based on moral virtues. In my mind the specific beliefs are far less important than the goal of spreading the value of moral behavior. I fear that, in many organizations, this original intent has taken a back seat to other objectives.

In the area of mathematics Ramanujan has no rival. What I find of particular interest is that despite his lack of an extensive education in his formative years he found that he had a knack for numbers. He passed away at a relatively young age of 32 (1887 – 1920). He credited his insight into the mathematical formulas that he devised to his family goddess. Following is taken from Wikipedia:

“He credited his acumen to his family goddess, Namagiri Thayar (Goddess Mahalakshmi) of Namakkal. He looked to her for inspiration in his work and said he dreamed of blood drops that symbolized her consort, Narasimha. Afterward he would receive visions of scrolls of complex mathematical content unfolding before his eyes. He often said, “An equation for me has no meaning unless it represents a thought of God.”

The mountain of work that he produced in such a short time was phenomenal. Today there is still work being done on his theorems in an attempt to merely understand them. In cases were his theories have been studied virtually every theory that had proposed has been verified. There is still much work to be done.

Ramanujan was discovered and mentored by the British mathematician G H Hardy.

Again from Wikipedia:

“When asked about the methods Ramanujan employed to arrive at his solutions, Hardy said that they were “arrived at by a process of mingled argument, intuition, and induction, of which he was entirely unable to give any coherent account.  He also stated that he had “never met his equal, and can compare him only with Euler or Jacobi.”

K. Srinivasa Rao has said, “As for his place in the world of Mathematics, we quote Bruce C. Berndt: ‘Paul Erdős has passed on to us Hardy’s personal ratings of mathematicians. Suppose that we rate mathematicians on the basis of pure talent on a scale from 0 to 100, Hardy gave himself a score of 25, J. E. Littlewood 30, David Hilbert 80 and Ramanujan 100.’ During a lecture at IIT Madras in May 2011, Berndt stated that over the last 40 years, as nearly all of Ramanujan’s theorems have been proven right, there had been greater appreciation of Ramanujan’s work and brilliance, and that Ramanujan’s work was now pervading many areas of modern mathematics and physics”

For a complete understanding of his brilliance I would encourage you to google him and check out the complete Wikipedia narrative.

 Also, there was a movie made of his life recently tilted “The man that knew Infinity”? I highly recommend it. Not sure if it is available to “free stream”, but it is available for to rent or buy via Amazon. 5

More on Political Polarization

More on Political Polarization

This message is written just prior to knowing the results of the 2018 mid-term election and will be posted a few months afterward. My hope was that we could vote for the individual and not along party lines. The two party-system along with the encouragement to vote a straight “party” ticket lies at the base of many of our problems.

The emphasis on the extremes in both parties by the media tends to exacerbate this issue. The fact is that the majority of representatives in both parties have views much closer to the political center. If you are a registered Democrat and your party has voted an extremist as their candidate please considerate the more moderate Republican candidate. The reverse goes for a registered Republican (in my opinion). If both candidates are extremists or support extreme agendas then consider voting Libertarian.

If we would elect candidates that have more moderate views and express an interest in working with all of their counterparts (regardless of party affiliation) for effective legislation then there is a chance we can make progress on the most important issues facing our country.

The really important issues that will determine if America has a chance to “Be Great Again” have been the subject of numerous prior postings to my blog. These are tough issues, but ones which moderate representatives should be able to enact effective legislation. The budget deficit, our massive unfunded liabilities, our broken healthcare system and funding for Social Security should top that list. What we do not need is more special interest legislation or legislation that support a particular political agenda. While topics like immigration are important, they pale in comparison to the financial ruin we are facing if we do not face up to the big money issues.

There are massive amounts of “fake” news items out there. Unfortunately, when we encounter a message which tends to support our established political view we tend to accept it blindly and even pass it along to friends without checking out the validity of the claimed “news” item. There are several facts check sites which are valuable is checking the veracity of an alarming news claim. Among then is Snopes. While using this source solely is not always the best method it is generally reliable. It is a valid starting point for researching “truth”. Conversely, if you see news that appears fake to you because it is averse to your current viewpoint consider using the same sources to determine its invalidity.

Perception tends to rule the day, regardless of the truth or the facts. What we “believe” to be true is merely perception and often not fact.

Renewable Energy

Chapter 104 Renewable Energy

Maximizing our ability to produce oil & gas just makes good economic sense, in the short term. The reason I say “short term” is that this resource is not infinite. My longer-term concern is that, as a country, we are not placing a high enough priority on developing renewable energy sources. There is no question that these most of these sources (other than hydroelectric & nuclear) will lead to higher costs for energy. Some argue that when the costs associated with the carbon footprint are added to the cost equation the increased costs for “renewables” may not be too excessive. I have hard data on this assertion.

Regardless, development of renewables is an area where the USA is not taking a leadership role. We have the ability to develop and also improve renewable technology. The issue is simply one of priorities. In that regard short term almost always trumps the longer view. There are 25 countries that produce 80% or more of their electricity with renewables and over 100 that produce more than the US which stands at 14%

It is important to take a look at what strides other countries have made regarding renewables:

List of countries by electricity production from renewable sources

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Country Year Renewables as % of total
Generation, all sources
Total renewable
Wind power
Biomass and waste
Solar power
Wave and tidal
Albania 2015 100.0% 5,866 5,866 5,866
Bhutan 2015 100.0% 7,732 7,731 7,731
Ethiopia 2015 100.0% 10,341 10,337 9,577 760 0
Iceland 2015 100.0% 18,558 18,554 13,541 10 5,003
 Lesotho 2015 100.0% 600 600 600
Nepal 2015 100.0% 3,493 3,493 3,461 32
Paraguay 2015 100.0% 55,191 55,190 55,190
Congo (Kinshasa) 2015 99.8% 8,852 8,837 8,827 10
Costa Rica 2015 99.1% 10,725 10,623 7,986 1,080 179 3 1,375
 Malawi 2015 99.1% 2,120 2,100 2,100
Norway 2015 98.5% 142,381 140,240 137,306 2,515 419
 Tajikistan 2015 98.5% 16,977 16,731 16,731
 Namibia 2015 97.9% 1,519 1,487 1,487
 Zambia 2015 97.1% 13,285 12,905 12,905
Laos 2015 96.5% 11,460 11,060 11,060
Belize 2015 95.2% 248 236 236
Uruguay 2015 89.1% 13,564 12,086 8,183 2,065 1,788 50
Kenya 2015 88.2% 9,568 8,435 3,749 60 122 24 4,480
Burundi 2015 87.0% 230 200 200
 Mozambique 2015 87.0% 19,579 17,035 17,035
 Central African Republic 2015 86.2% 174 150 150
Afghanistan 2015 86.1% 1,034 890 890
 Kyrgyzstan 2015 85.8% 12,803 10,989 10,989
New Zealand 2015 80.8% 42,912 34,689 24,292 2,333 620 33 7,411
 Uganda 2015 80.8% 3,235 2,615 2,615
Austria 2015 80.0% 56,940 45,553 34,919 4,561 5,190 883 0
United States 2015 14.0% 4,097,027 572,409 249,080 190,719 77,660 39,032 15,918