Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Thank TCB Almighty

It is done. I've been tentatively saying to people that the research required for my thesis has been complete for the last week or so, but until I got to Slovenia and spoke to my friend/colleague/unofficial replacement supervisor/walking Encyclopedia Mathematica DJ I couldn't be 100% sure. In fact, at the end of a half-hour brainstorming session yesterday morning it became clear that I wasn't quite done [1], but having been shown the one missing link in our chain of logic I simply beat the hell out of maths yesterday afternoon until it capitulated.

Now I have reached my favourite part of the academic process, writing papers. This is fun for two reasons. Firstly, writing=awesome, whether it's a story or a blog post or an academic article. Secondly, though, now that I'm supposed to be typing away at my computer all day no-one suspects anything as I sit here yapping away on the Musings instead. Take that, government funding to take me overseas! In your face, wonderfully kind and hospitable Slovenian hosts!

Anyway, gloat over. I shall now try and actually write some maths.

See you back here in, ooh, ten minutes or so...

[1] Maths is a funny business. The best way to explain the mistake I made is to use an analogy. I tried to prove that if there is only one water trough in a fenced field, then no matter where a horse is when it needs a drink, it will always go to the same trough, and so sooner or later the horse will visit said location. DJ's objection to my reasoning was essentially "why assume horses drink?". Of course, this being maths, I had to prove that mammals require water to function, and that took about four hours.


jamie said...

Awesome :-) Who'da thunk that things could look up so swiftly? Well done to you and DJ, looks like the end is very clearly in sight!

Senior Spielbergo said...

But surely if the field is of sufficient size then it raises the possibility of the horse dying before it reaches the trough? What then? What if the fencing is arranged in such a convoluted way that the horse can't find the trough? What if activating the LHC in CERN causes mini black holes to form, destroying the world (OK not entirely sure how that is going to happen but hey) thus meaning no trough and no horse! (Although I guess in that case they will both end up in the same point in space so you can at least claim the moral victory if not the practical one). Clearly it’s time to divert horse resources from these dressage events and concentrate on experiments with practical ramifications.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink”

SpaceSquid said...

The horse is immortal. Though it still needs water for some reason. Maybe it wants to frolic in the water whist reveling in its indestructibility.

Given enough time, the horse can navigate a fence structure irrespective of its complexity. Unless the trough is entirely sealed off, of course, but sealing off the trough is DJ's work, not mine.

CERN isn't going to destroy anything, and I wish people would shut up about it.

And never, ever, use the phrase "practical ramifications" on this blog again. We don't do those here.

Tom said...


But surely anything that requires any use of LaTeX is an exception to the writing=awesome rule?


PS: What if the horse drowns?

SpaceSquid said...

LaTeX certainly pushes the boundaries, but it's still fun.

I don't care if the horse drowns. Once the horse arrives at the trough, my model concludes in any case.

Pause said...

Woo, well done 'Squid.

I always feel slightly more sorry for maths viva-examiner-people than for those of other subjects. Usually you go through the methods and results and whatnot with a standard checklist of things to look for, but maths examiners have to check the logic and structure and everything carefully, often for a topic that's only partially in their field. Poor sods. Be nice to them in your thesis.

Kim said...

What about when all the water evaporates away? Or it freezes over? Water has a stake in this situation too!

Oh and welcome to the continent. Soon everyone shall join us!

SpaceSquid said...

The water is endlessly replenished by rain. It's a Scottish field. The trough is more likely to be swept away than it is to run dry.

There is also anti-freeze in the water. This may be bad for the horse, but that's his problem.

As to joining you on the continent; I was under the impression that you are about to bugger off anyway.