כמו הלך במדבר

November 11, 2018

Since coming down from Shen Ramon, I had been walking on the flat surface under an overcast sky. I thought how convenient to have shades in the desert right in the middle of the day, which later proved to have lasted for the whole latter part of the trek – maybe a bit too much. After ascending Pisgat Kir HaMachtesh – a fun rock-climbing-like experience, as I guess the slippery rock surface used to bear a waterfall – it was merely 1pm. But the sky had already grown oppressively dark, and the wind blew as it wished without the sun to reign it in. It was under such conditions that a magical view assembled before my eyes, fusing my favorite motif with some surprising elements.

I had myself zipped up and leaned on a rock, feeling all cozy while admiring the transmission towers lining up the blue “electricity trail” that I had been dying to go – the last part of the day’s plan. That’s one of my favorite desert motifs. No, the towers themselves will not do. It has to be transmission towers traversing a vast desolation – the wasted, wild ones, not the domesticated, Christian ones^\hatip{Gibbon}. Or large antennas, or radio telescopes, set against utter solitude and bleakness. What exactly do I like about it, sometimes I wonder. Certainly it is too much BoC weed but that’s not a satisfactory answer. There are only fragments of reasons I seem to find, something along the line of long neglected last outposts of a once ambitious civilization, a foreign body that implanted itself in the nature that gradually becomes one with the Mother Earth, approaching perfection like grains of sand turning into pearls by the nourishment of mollusk love…? OK, maybe not the pearl part.

Unlike them, we don’t have the iconic Arizonian cacti to let bobcats perch on in our deserts. But these transmission towers look like Saguaro cacti enough, the only difference being that their arms unfortunately grow downwards. So instead of the robust youths of the desert, the transmission towers in the Machtesh look lanky and droopy. See, those are the cacti we have, and I love them the way they are.

As I was admiring the Ramon cacti on the top of the modest peak while leaning on the rock, muted thunders were heard. My gaze was directed toward the west. And there, the dark gray eagle spread its wings beyond the Shen Ramon peak. Or maybe an 1000 year old sea turtle would be more precise, as now I reviewed my photos and decided to abandon the common allusion. Closer to here, the head and the left fore flipper formed a solar prominence through which sharp darts of silver sunlight was hurled onto the plain, creating a bright spot in the brooding darkness. Further beyond, were the cloud pillars! read more …


Ladies of the Technion

September 8, 2018

Hanna beams the atoms with
Laser as her code displayed
Hiking to her is to breathe
She wades the stream holding on to her braid
Holds her braid while wading the stream
A dedicated teaching champion
Volunteers in a rescue team
She is a lady of the Technion

Nadya studies microfluidics
Voltage alters liquid motion
Designs experimental chips
With confidence and determination
Determined and confident
But sleep-walks in the morning lazy
Takes me to excursions, and
She is another Technion lady

Nitzan designs algorithms
For modern distributed systems
Teaches artificial intelligence
Lovely solo alto rhythms
Rhythms in lovely alto voice
Lately more touring with Singleton
Loses speech to passerby noise
She is a lady of the Technion
read more …


Raw Notes on Hardy’s Apology

August 25, 2018

Preface. Reading is a form of communication. It follows that one who loves reading loves socializing. Just that this particular mode of communication goes one-way only and not real-time. One ridiculously good aspect deriving from the one-way property is that it doesn’t matter how great the author was, the obscure reader entitles himself to an advantageous post, where he freely points his finger or makes satirical comments without consequences. The great body of my notes are of this worthless type. Haha! Usually I strive to write my book report coherently, focusing on the most important subject that got me thinking. But this booklet, albeit small, contains many a profound idea that branches out and is hard to merge. So this time, I go all casual and post the discrete set of raw notes \footnote{edited and expanded} in the following. There will be additional comments on one plot line regarding my conversion though.


Before Section 10 it was mostly me enduring personal attacks, if I remember correctly. There are remarks here and there that I could relate to. But all that ambition/immortality talk is alienating.

10 A painting may embody an ‘idea’, but the idea is usually commonplace and unimportant.

Never noticed this. It rings true. Just look at all the nudes, landscape, still life, mythological/historical paintings. The painterly effect that wraps the idea is usually more important than the idea itself in our appreciation of the artwork. In contrast, a piece of mathematical work has no paintbrush or words to dress itself up, only the idea in and is itself.

Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.

This line is vehemently opposed by the twitter sphere – where I got the idea to have a look at this booklet in the first place. But one doesn’t have to take it as an offense as if Hardy meant that “ugly” mathematics do not contribute or have no place. Just not permanent place. In the long run, inevitably people will find more elegant proofs for the same thing. So those get to go into textbooks, and the “ugly” is replaced and hence loses its temporary place.

14 I do not know what is the highest degree of accuracy ever useful to an engineer—we shall be very generous if we say ten significant figures.

Thanks for your generosity. MATLAB default eps is 2.2204e-16. Not far.

As regards Pythagoras’s, it is obvious that irrationals are uninteresting to an engineer, since he is concerned only with approximations, and all approximations are rational.

Well, to this I have no objection. Control engineers love rational functions! It’s not to say there aren’t infinite-dimensionals in the control theory literature. Actually, they extensively study delay. But if an average engineer can get away with a rational approximation, why not.

At this point, I had yet to be exposed to his shocking belief. So I asked, isn’t mathematics a model of, hence an approximation to the physical reality? Which one is the ultimate? I would say the physical. In the physical world there is no infinity, an apparent contradiction with the existence of infinity in mathematics. So an engineer approximates true mathematical solutions, but is it further from the physical reality than the true mathematical solution is?

15 isolated curiosities… These are odd facts… nothing in them which appeals to a mathematician.

The two examples taken from Mathematical Recreations are to illustrate superficial theorems. They look a lot like that Hardy-Ramanujan number. I wonder if he would get upset at being attributed a trivial theorem to. But we may comfort him in saying, this attribution is more to the memory of you guys’ peculiar deathbed conversation than to the actual mathematical merit of the discovery itself. Even without resorting to this, he deemed his numerous early papers insignificant anyway. So he had enough unimportant results to not notice the additional one.

16 “It is the large generalization, limited by a happy particularity, which is the fruitful conception.”

A quote from Whitehead. Typically poetic, full of ambiguity, love, and passion. I could see his thoughts dancing. Delightful! read more …


Icarus Undrown

August 4, 2018

The setting sun has not yet turned red. The dazzling light renders the simple composition that unfurls before me overexposed: the sky white, the water black, and the frail sails at the intersection transparent. The more I gaze upon the horizon, the hazier it becomes. The sun is a gigantic white hole, her fatal splendor captivating all who beholds her as she falls.

All the boats are already sailing towards the center of oblivion. Some have completed the unification and melted into the bright whirlpool, like a drop of water casting itself into the sea. Others that barely touch the edge, their sails already begin to dissolve into glowing flakes – signs of higher transformation.

So drawn to it, so seized by it, I tried to swim far toward the outer sea, to join the gliding boats. They are so nimble, yet I am so feeble – deprived of the wings, fallen into the sea, and left with my bare limbs. Only that delirious longing still burning. What else am I to do besides to strive for that great nothingness with what weak strokes that the fatigued arms can afford.

Yet the invisible breezes intermittently swoosh by, leaving echos of giggles behind that gently awakens the napping waves. At times, indolent rolls of the waves easily rise above my head to block the view of that heat source entirely. At those moments, I am lost and anxious. And so alternately, I am consumed with yearning and anxiety, until an unusually large roll of waves arrived that forced me to instinctively defend myself by turning my face back toward the seashore with eyes tightly shut.

After it had passed and everything dissipated to stillness again, I wiped the brisk water off my face and rubbed my eyes to allow them to slowly release the defense. The first thing that projects onto my mind was a picture much smaller in scale, in contrast to the expansiveness out there, but more exquisite: from this angle, the sea water touched by the yellowing sun turns emerald green; the wavy curves of sand patterns on the bottom reveal themselves with clarity; the black lines denote the shadow of the land, and the golden patches reflect the brilliance of the west.

The turbulent mind soothed, the exhausted heart comforted, the charred eyes fixated downwards at this magic for what felt like a slowed-down while. After that, I cast a look at the blazing horizon again – now finally a bit wobbly, and thought to myself in this cool clear water: today I will not be able to make it, after all.


Electric Indigo Observations

May 26, 2018

A winter walk in slow motion. The sounds of every sinking step along the snow carpeted trail, of a twig’s shudder felt by each cell of the tree, of water droplets dripping from glittering icicles, of pine cones being kicked sideways, of broken glasses…

An endless journey forward through the monotonous sparse woods, which effortlessly extends itself by looping the same scenery. It invites a meditative mind to open the inner eyes, drawn to meticulous examination of every detail in the derivation, and lulled to dreamy introspection of the encompassing philosophy.

At times clouds pass over and hastily flew on, casting transparent shadows on the otherwise blinding whiteness. A strange flicker produced by the transient chiaroscuro induces a moment of intellectual illumination, in which the mind briefly floats in the air of delightful clarity.

When I was small and looked at “Still Life in Motion”, or “Movement in Still Life”, I thought of a largely immobile living being undergoing quasi-equilibrium movement. Now it suddenly clicked that still life refers to a painting, like that of a couple of drying flowers gathered from outside the house, a framed old photograph of someone distant in memory, a plate of promising green grass, and an empty bottle – all of which set against a patchy gray wall in a dark room. So is trudging in that snow, doubtlessly a motion but in truth a collection of snapshots of the outer scenes and inner states.

I have never been good at ambient music. But when I open the window, and all the luminous particles of sounds and samples come along a sudden blow of wind onto my face – like this entrancing opening – I am the most willing captive to offer my most secret imagination.