Archive for July, 2014

The Expert

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2014 by telescoper

Brilliant sketch about the difficulty of fitting into the corporate world when you actually know things about stuff:





A Keno Game Problem

Posted in Cute Problems with tags , , , , on July 25, 2014 by telescoper

It’s been a while since I posted anything in the Cute Problems category so, given that I’ve got an unexpected gap of half an hour today, I thought I’d return to one of my side interests, the mathematics and games and gambling.

There is a variety of gambling games called Keno games in which a player selects (or is given) a set of numbers, some or all of which the player hopes to match with numbers drawn without replacement from a larger set of numbers. A common example of this type of game is Bingo. These games mostly originate in the 19th Century when travelling carnivals and funfairs often involved booths in which customers could gamble in various ways; similar things happen today, though perhaps with more sophisticated games.

In modern Casino Keno (sometimes called Race Horse Keno) a player receives a card with the numbers from 1 to 80 marked on it. He or she then marks a selection between 1 and 15 numbers and indicates the amount of a proposed bet; if n numbers are marked then the game is called `n-spot Keno’. Obviously, in 1-spot Keno, only one number is marked. Twenty numbers are then drawn without replacement from a set comprising the integers 1 to 80, using some form of randomizing device. If an appropriate proportion of the marked numbers are in fact drawn the player gets a payoff calculated by the House. Below you can see the usual payoffs for 10-spot Keno:

If fewer than five of your numbers are drawn, you lose your £1 stake. The expected gain on a £1 bet can be calculated by working out the probability of each of the outcomes listed above multiplied by the corresponding payoff, adding these together and then subtracting the probability of losing your stake (which corresponds to a gain of -£1). If this overall expected gain is negative (which it will be for any competently run casino) then the expected loss is called the house edge. In other words, if you can expect to lose £X on a £1 bet then X is the house edge.

What is the house edge for 10-spot Keno?

Answers through the comments box please!

Long Long Summer – Reprise

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on July 24, 2014 by telescoper

I know it’s tempting fate to post something with a title like Long Long Summer, as indeed it was last time I posted it, but we’ve had such lovely warm weather for the last week or so I couldn’t resist putting this up while the sun’s still shining. I particularly wanted to share this track (a) because it matches the weather perfectly and (b) because it’s by the great Dizzy Gillespie Quintet of 1962 with Lalo Schifrin on piano, best known as a prolific composer of film and TV scores. The band also featured Leo Wright, a very under-rated saxophonist and flautist. They all play terrifically on this original composition by Lalo Schifrin. There’s also a chance to see an interesting collection of photographs of Dizzy Gillespie, and his amazing cheeks!

BICEP2 – The Video!

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on July 23, 2014 by telescoper

A video about cosmic inflation and the BICEP2 results produced by the University of Sussex and PhD Comics!

Time for a Factorial Moment…

Posted in Bad Statistics with tags , , on July 22, 2014 by telescoper

Another very busy and very hot day so no time for a proper blog post. I suggest we all take a short break and enjoy a Factorial Moment:

Factorial Moment

I remember many moons ago spending ages calculating the factorial moments of the Poisson-Lognormal distribution, only to find that they were well known. If only I’d had Google then…

The Origin of Mass

Posted in Biographical with tags on July 21, 2014 by telescoper

Back in Cardiff for the weekend I was looking for some documents and stumbled across this, my National Health Service Baby Weight Card (vintage 1963). I’m told that I even lost a bit of weight between my birth and the first entry on the card:


Aside from my considerable mass two further facts about my birth are worth mentioning. One is that I emerged in the incorrect polarization state, with shoulders East-West instead of North-South; the result of this was that my left collarbone was broken during the delivery. I imagine this wasn’t exactly a comfortable experience for my mother either! I subsequently broke the same collarbone falling off a wall when I was a toddler and it never healed properly, hence I can’t rotate my left arm. If I try to do the front crawl when swimming I go around in circles! The other noteworthy fact of my birth was that when I was finally extricated I was found to be completely covered in hair, like a monkey…

The Thunder Shower

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on July 19, 2014 by telescoper

A blink of lightning, then
a rumor, a grumble of white rain
growing in volume, rustling over the ground,
drenching the gravel in a wash of sound.
Drops tap like timpani or shine
like quavers on a line.

It rings on exposed tin,
a suite for water, wind and bin,
plinky Poulenc or strongly groaning Brahms’
rain-strings, a whole string section that describes
the very shapes of thought in warm
self-referential vibes

and spreading ripples. Soon
the whispering roar is a recital.
Jostling rain-crowds, clamorous and vital,
struggle in runnels through the afternoon.
The rhythm becomes a regular beat;
steam rises, body heat—

and now there’s city noise,
bits of recorded pop and rock,
the drums, the strident electronic shock,
a vast polyphony, the dense refrain
of wailing siren, truck and train
and incoherent cries.

All human life is there
in the unconfined, continuous crash
whose slow, diffused implosions gather up
car radios and alarms, the honk and beep,
and tiny voices in a crèche
piercing the muggy air.

Squalor and decadence,
the rackety global-franchise rush,
oil wars and water wars, the diatonic
crescendo of a cascading world economy
are audible in the hectic thrash
of this luxurious cadence.

The voice of Baal explodes,
raging and rumbling round the clouds,
frantic to crush the self-sufficient spaces
and re-impose his failed hegemony
in Canaan before moving on
to other simpler places.

At length the twining chords
run thin, a watery sun shines out,
the deluge slowly ceases, the guttural chant
subsides; a thrush sings, and discordant thirds
diminish like an exhausted concert
on the subdominant.

The angry downpour swarms
growling to far-flung fields and farms.
The drains are still alive with trickling water,
a few last drops drip from a broken gutter;
but the storm that created so much fuss
has lost interest in us.

by Derek Mahon (b 1941)