Monday, March 5, 2012

Unreasonable Effectiveness

The mold box worked well. 
The mold, however,
was sadly a complete bust.

Lego scaffolding as glue dries
Since I assume most of you are not holding a master's of education in Mathematics, you may not be familiar with the phrase "the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics".  It was coined by Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner in a paper of the same name.  It basically states that math not only describes but predicts phenomena in the natural world, which, if you think about it, is amazing.  Some famous examples are when Newton invented calculus before he needed it for his Laws of Motion (was this man ever a genius!), Maxwell predicted radio waves with his equations before Heinrich Hertz detected them, and how the seemingly quixotic 19th century knot theory work eventually helped explain quantum field theory.  No one could imagine life without their cellphones, but did you know that without fractals, in order to pick up all of the frequencies for Bluetooth, walkie-talkie and Wi-Fi, it would look like a porcupine?  And even though we haven't found them yet, Einstein presaged the existence of black holes.  Math is the bomb (literally, if we're talking about the A-bomb)!  Ha!  Math humor.

A lego lathe!!!
Ah-hem...There is a less well-known phrase called "the unreasonable effectiveness of Legos", which pertains to the unexplained usefulness in miniature making of the already very cool Lego.  The phrase is not as famous because I just made it up.  I have used it as doll house scaffolding, as well as an easily assembled and disassembled mold box.  Has anyone found another use for Legos besides their use as a building toy?  I can envision all sorts of uses.


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