Posted by: David | December 16, 2007

Neuro- what? Boot to the head

OK I just don’t know how this is even possible. This kind of stuff just makes you feel so dumb. Actually it makes me feel more like this poor hairy woodpecker that smashed into my bedroom window Saturday afternoon while I was reading/napping (I have a cold). My wife came in to investigate and reported the little birdy beak down, feet up, and wings splayed in the snow. This happens a lot. We have lots of windows and lots of bird traffic. I continued to doze, and some minutes later I got up to take a look. The bird had arighted itself.

See the wing impression to the left of the bird’s shoulder?

“2 and 2 are 4, 4 and 4 are 8 … I am a woodpecker … “

The woodpecker recovered after a while. My wife went out to check on it while going to do her evening barn chores. It gave a chirp and flew up to a nearby oak branch, gathered its bearings, and resumed its work, pecking on the oak. What a hard little head. What makes me feel like this little woodpecker you are wondering, Internet?

This is what makes me feel like the whitewashed woodpecker. Reading in the current The Week magazine’s “Good week for:/Bad week for:” section about a 27-year old French “human calculator” named Alexis Lemaire, who broke a world record calculating the 13th root of a 200-digit number IN HIS HEAD in 70.2 seconds!!! That’s like a minute plus 10.2 seconds people, OK?! For the less math inclined readers, the 13th root is the number which when multiplied by itself 13 times, equals that 200 digit number. Yeah. (Boy I’ll bet those are some fun competitions to see live, huh?) With a calculator, pencils, lots of erasers, a legal pad, several pots of coffee and nothing better to watch on TV I could calculate the 13th root of a 200 digit number in approximately NEVER!!

And the fact that Alexis is a doctoral student working the artificial intelligence field is not a comfort for some reason. I would rather he be like Rain Man and mentally calculate 13th roots while burning the fries at his McDonald’s job. At least that would be some kind of perverse justice. I’m sorry, but finding the 13 root of 85,877,066,894,718,045,602,549,144,850,158,599,202,771,247,748,960,878,023,151,390,314,284,284,465,842,798,373,290,242,826,571,823,153,045,030,300,932,591,615,405,929,429,773,640,895,967,991,430,381,763,526,613,357,308,674,592,650,724,521,841,103,664,923,661,204,223 IN YOUR HEAD is just too much to bear. I will now put down the laptop and go back to my snow covered dirtpile. To dig. Maybe I’ll find something shiny in the dirt.

Boot to the head. Ow!

But wait there’s more!

 You absolutely MUST see this website called “13TH ROOT: THE APOCALYPTIC AND OFFICIAL INTEGER ROOT“!! Sure, it looks like a creepy, over-texty, 2-years neglected website with one ultracheesy graphic, but on the Introduction page, I learn something important. Apparently, “… many people do not know the geniality of 13th roots”. OK, I never have met a 13th root that I didn’t like (have you?), but hey, I’m no human calculator. But I did have fun scrolling the blue text up and down really fast over the spooky 13th root graphic until it looked like the text was getting sucked into it. Math is so cool. It’s like a whole science or something, huh?

Like Mr. Cardinal here in the same oak that the woodpecker returned to, we are hunkered down in today’s big winter storm.



  1. The photos are so beautiful! I can’t visit that website, because I’m afraid my brain would explode, but I do hope you’re feeling better soon!

  2. Looks like the poor bird could use some neuroplasticity. I am afraid that after reading the page on the 13th root I could use some myself. I was definitely cracking up reading your comments on the 13th root and the guy who can solve them in his head. I am afraid it would take me more than a minute just to read the original number, never mind taking the 13th root.
    Hopefully you are all dug out from the storm by now, and can sit back and enjoy another day of stupor.

  3. Thanks moonbeam, I’ve found a little trick in Microsoft Office Picture Manager of goosing up the saturation to make the colors pop out. And the cold is waning, back to work today, lots of nose blowing …

    Yeah that 13th Root website could be danger. Click the Apocalypse link and you’re prompted to join a Yahoo group. Ooh- I like that sentence!

    But I don’t want to join the group. I mean what the heck is this stuff?

    But this is not all!
    Look at the bijective category.

    Central antisymetry and arithmetic sequence lead to this minimal array for the bijective category:

    -1 -3
    01 23

    The equivalence 13th root/77th power

    blah blah blah …

    OH YEAH, it’s crazy math crap I don’t get. Almost forgot.

  4. It’s all clicks and whistles, I have no idea what you’re talking about. But the photos were AWESOME! Thank god for the photos.

  5. Yeah, I hear the clicks and whistles too. And some static. Even as they come out of my mouth. Photography is SUCH a help!

  6. Speaking of people who are too smart, have you met Stu?
    (sorry, you’ll have to paste this into your browser, I’m too stupid to make it into an easier alternative method)

  7. Oh look! You can just click on it! I’m smarter than I thought.

  8. That website is obviously using an outmoded flux capacitator. It’s decongested algorithms can be leveraged to maximize Pink Panther gains vis-a-vis ROI.

  9. Thanks LWB, I’ve enjoyed Stu’s comments at your place. That genius post of his is great. The pix of the Little Genius girl (Georgia Brown?!?! Is that FOR REAL?) really creep me out! She just looks right through me.

    Nimish, thanks for your incomprehensible comment. It’s nice to hear from you. I sold my flux capacitor and Mr. Fusion on ebay 7 years ago. Got $275.

  10. So YOU’RE the guy that sold me the broken flux capacitor! You eBay scammers….

  11. It was in perfect working order when I shipped it to you Madam.

  12. I was the shipping co-ordinator.

    You just can’t have flux capacitators (sic. I’m an electrical engineer. sic. SIC.) running wild out there. SOmeone had to do something.
    I bit the bullet.
    I stood up.
    I stopped them.

  13. So you don’t think that moonbeam is capable of operating a flux capacitor? Is that what you’re hinting at sic electrical engineer guy? Maybe you think you’re some kind of bullet biting hero? Well let me tell you, sir, one can go from hero to zero in no time flat. I’ve done it so many times!

  14. Nimish, it seems that David is trying to instigate a fight, and I feel that I must warn you that my hormones are itching for one. I’m considering building a boxing ring in my home.

    For the record, I’m a licensed Flux Capacitatrix, and tops in my field. I would like a retraction, and a full refund. With interest.

  15. Yeah, oops. I don’t mean to instigate. I think this thing with the capacitor tampering is much bigger than I previously thought. And the licensing board was probably in on it with ebay. Nimish was just doing what he thought was the right thing.

    Two words: DUH!

    moonbeam, I’d suggest getting one of those heavy bags to punch on first, until the itching stops. At our age, hormones can be a hell of a lot trickier than flux capacitors.

  16. LOL. This flux capacitor conversation was hilarious.

  17. Thanks LWB, it was fun wasn’t it? It goes to show you that good things can come from woodpeckers crashing into your windows.

    I also learned was how hard it is to pronounce “Capacitatrix”. And once we find out what “Pink Panther gains” are I think it’s a wrap. Mr. Batra? Care to enlighten us vis-a-vis ROI?

  18. It’s one of them TLAs, watchmacallits, Buzzwords of the business industry.
    TLA – Three Letter Acronym. A recursive self-referentially ironic joke for MBAs (another TLA). Business world is awash with acronyms for everyday concepts that got rebranded by some geek peddling a book [especially one of them self-help books], and also, curiously, with words like “awash”…

    ROI – Return On Investment.


    I was hoping to make a joke out of it, but the business lingo just makes me feel very tired and lifeless. Don’t ask me why.

  19. Comment go to spam queue ?


  21. [That your comment was trapped by Akismet filter is unfortunate, but not my fault. Yet, I apologize on behalf of WordPress and Mr. Akismet.]

    Ogh! Nimish! You’re such a yob!

    I KNOW what ROI is. What caught my fleeting attention was the Pink Panther reference. What means that?

  22. I just threw a non-sequitur. 😛

  23. OK, that explains it. Though I was hoping for something more arcane and hysterical.

  24. The way Nimish learnt English is really something. I would not even mean this as a compliment or not as an unqualified compliment. He learnt how to speak like one of them. He sounds like one of them, the attitude, the sarcasm, the ellipsis everywhere plus half a dozen of neologisms.

    Some years ago, on Google groups, I read a geek who had moved to another town and could not get his computer connected. He swore and bitched online and there was not a word he wrote that you could have looked up in a normal dictionary.

    I agree. Nimish’s command of English is impressive. I feel very lucky that he found my blog and left his amusing comments. Even more so that he returned after a time. Don’t you think that the internet is a good resource for this type of learning?

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