Sunday

Lexulous (Word Game)

Lexulous is the new name for an online word game formerly known as Scrabulous. The game is based on the popular commercial Scrabble game owned by Hasbro Inc., Pawtucket, RI, USA.

The Lexulous game is available at www.lexulous.com, and is also playable on Facebook.

Lexulous was developed by the Agarwalla brothers, Rajat & Jayant in 2005.

Rajat & Jayant Agarwalla own RJ Softwares (headquartered in Kolkata, India), the developer of Lexulous

The game uses an Elo rating system.


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Elo Rating System

Elo rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in two-player zero sum games. The system is named after US physicist Arpad Elo (19031992) and was initially developed as a chess rating tool.

Current uses of the Elo rating system (with modifications) include:
  • American college basketball
  • American college football
  • Association Football
  • Battleforge (MMORTS)
  • Chess (FIDE rating)
  • Czech Go Federation
  • DailyGammon (online Backgammon)
  • European Go Federation
  • FIDE (chess)
  • FIFA Women's World Rankings
  • Go Associations (multiple)
  • GoldToken (online Backgammon)
  • Guild Wars (online role playing game)
  • Internet Chess Club
  • Lexulous - online word game
  • Major league baseball
  • Multiplayer computer games
  • North American National Scrabble Association
  • Play65 (online Backgammon)
  • Puzzle Pirates (game)
  • US Chess Federation rating
  • VogClub (online Backgammon)
  • Vendetta Online (online role playing game)
  • World Football Elo Ratings
  • Yahoo! Games
The Elo rating system is statistically based. The original major assumption was that the chess performance of each player in each game is a normally distributed random variable. Also, Elo felt that a player's true skill would be the mean of that player's performance random variable. The players' performance is inferred from the wins, draws and losses they have against other rated players. A number of simplifying assumptions were also made by Elo to enable ease of rating calculation as this sytem was developed before modern computing became available.

Professor Mark Glickman has proposed a more sophisticated statistical rating system called the Glicko Rating System which estimates a similar rating and also calculates a rating deviation (similar to standard deviation).


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Glicko Rating System

The Glicko Rating System was developed by Professor Mark E. Glickman from Boston University. The system was initially considered as a thesis topic whilst Glickman was a statistics major at Princeton University. Glickman subsequently wrote a Harvard doctoral dissertation where he examined the deficiencies of the chess Elo rating system and also devised an alternative ratings system which he called the "Glicko System" (a homage to Professor Arpad Elo?).

The Glicko system is used by:
  • Australian Chess Federation (ACF)
  • Chess.com
  • Numerous online chess sites i.e.
  • Free Internet Chess Server
One of the benefits of Glickman’s Glicko System is that it also recognizes that a players' rating is only an estimation of their true strength. The Glicko System uniquely also calculates an estimate of the degree of uncertainty regarding that rating, called the rating deviation (RD) which is similar in concept to standard deviation. The higher the rating deviation the greater the uncertainty regarding the players' rating.

In the Glicko system the rating changes, following a game, are not balanced as they usually are in the Elo system. With the Glicko system, the amount by which the opponent's rating changes is governed by both players' RD's.

Further Reading:
Mark Glickman's description of the Glicko system
Mark Glickman's technical paper on the Glicko system.
New Glicko-2 System (improvement on the original Glicko system).



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Tuesday

Hickam's Dictum

Hickam's dictum is a counterargument to using Occam's razor in the practice of medicine.

Hickam's Dictum Essential facts:
  • "Patients can have as many diseases as they well please".
  • The principle is attributed to John Hickam, MD. (faculty member at Duke University in the 1950s).
  • The actual process undertaken when diagnosing a patient is a continuous generation of hypothesis and then testing of that hypothesis, followed by then modifying the hypothesis, and so on.
  • The principle of Hickam's dictum considers that a particular diagnosis should not be excluded solely because it doesn't appear to fit the principle of Occam's razor.
  • It is frequently statistically more likely that a patient has several common diseases, rather than a single rarer unifying disease.
  • Thus Hickam's dictum is useful in providing physicians with a counterbalancing principle to the uncritical use of Occam's razor in diagnosis.
Saint's triad (example in clinical practice):
  • Saint's triad is the common combination of hiatus hernia, gallbladder disease, and diverticulosis (ascribed to C. F. M. Saint, British surgeon).
  • The triad components have no known pathophysiological interrelationship - and thus the triad is counter to the usefulness Occam's razor.

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William of Ockham (Medieval Philosopher, Franciscan Monk)


William of Ockham Demographics:
  • Name - William of Ockham
  • Other Names - Doctor Invincibilis
  • Birth - ca. 1285
  • Death - ca. 1349 (Bubonic Plague; Black Death) in Germany.
  • Location - came from Ockham (small village in Surrey, England).
  • Occupation - English philosopher, logician, theologian & Franciscan monk.
William of Ockham, The Man:
  • Franciscan monk - hence his belief in a minimalist in lifestyle.
  • Idealised the life of poverty.
  • Battled with the Pope over this issue as did St. Francis.
  • Excommunicated by Pope John XXII.
  • Wrote a treatise demonstrating that Pope John XXII was a heretic.
  • Some consider him the father of epistemology.
  • Wrote a great deal about natural philosophy.
  • Ockham wrote a long commentary on Aristotle's physics.
  • Better known these days for his principle of parsimony - Occam's Razor.
  • This razor became a foundation for what would later become known as the scientific method.
  • The principle of parsimony is one of the pilars of reductionism in science.
  • Both Jean Buridan & Nicole Oresme were followers of William of Ockham.
William of Ockham Education:
  • Studied theology at the University of Oxford (1309-1321).
  • Never completed his Master's Degree.
  • Mentor was John Duns Scotus (he had already writen about the principle of parsimony, and may have influenced William of Ockham regarding this).
Related Links:
Bubonic Plague Famous Deaths
Occam's Razor (Ockham's Razor)


Image Credit - Moscarlop Wikipedia

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Occam's Razor (Ockham's Razor)

"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate." or

"Plurality should not be posited without necessity."


The words of medieval English philosopher & Franciscan monk William of Ockham (ca. 1285-1349) who was born in Ockham, Surrey.

Basically this advises that given a choice between two explanations, then you should choose the simplest - ie explanation which requires the fewest assumptions.

The term 'razor' derives from the verb to raze, the 'cutting away of extraneous material'.

The concept is also often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae ('law of parsimony').

The counterargument to Occam's razor in the medical profession is Hickam's dictum, attributed to John Hickam, MD from Duke University in 1950s.



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Monday

David Frost (Media Personality and Journalist) b. 1939


David Frost Demographics:
  • Name - Sir David Paradine Frost
  • Surname - Frost
  • Honours - OBE, Knighthood (1993).
  • Born - 7 April 1939
  • Birthplace - Tenterden, Kent (UK)
  • Father - Rev. W.J. Paradine Frost (Methodist minister)
  • Nationality - British (English)
  • Occupation - media personality, journalist, comedian, writer.
David Frost Facts:
  • Pioneer of political satire on television.
  • Ground breaking journalist conducting serious interviews with various political figures (famously Richard Nixon).
  • Currently has a weekly TV program Frost Over the World on Al Jazeera English.
  • Fellowship from BAFTA (2005).
  • Has an honorary degree from Sussex University (1994).
  • Frost is married to Lady Carina (née Fitzalan Howard) - a daughter of the 17th Duke of Norfolk.
David Frost Education:
  • Started training as a Methodist Local Preacher - never completed.
  • Attended Gillingham Grammar School and later Wellingborough Grammar School.
  • Won a place at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University - First in English.
  • At Cambridge, he edited Varsity, a student newspaper.
  • Also edited a literary magazine, Granta, again at Cambridge.
  • Secretary of the famous Footlights Drama Society at Cambridge.

Image - David Frost by R. D. Ward, United States Department of Defense (public domain) via Wikipedia.


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Mentalist (Illusion Performer)


Mentalists perform the art of mentalism.

The skills presented may include:
  • Cold reading
  • Hot reading
  • Hypnosis
  • Mental acuity
  • Stage magic
  • Suggestion
  • Warm reading
The goal of a mentalist is to present the illusion of:
  • Clairvoyance
  • ESP (extra-sensory perception)
  • Mind control
  • Mind reading
  • Precognition
  • Psychokinesis
Famous Mentalists (List A-Z):
  • Al Koran
  • Alexander
  • Banachek
  • Bob Cassidy
  • Chan Canasta
  • Corinda
  • David Berglas
  • Derren Brown
  • Gerry McCambridge (pictured)
  • Joseph Dunninger
  • Keith Barry
  • Kuda Bux
  • Marc Paul
  • Max Maven
  • Richard Osterlind
  • The Amazing Kreskin
  • The Piddingtons
  • The Zancigs
  • Theodore Annemann
  • Uri Geller

Image - The Mentalist Gerry McCambridge by Old Shoe Woman (cc)


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Sunday

Derren Brown (Mentalist, Illusionist, Magician) b. 1971

Derren Brown Facts:
  • Name - Derren Victor Brown
  • Born 27 February 1971
  • Nationality - British (English)
  • Occupation - Mentalist, magician, illusionist, painter & sceptic.
  • Birth Place - Croydon, South London.
  • Educated - Whitgift School; University of Bristol (Law & German).
  • Much of his TV work is written in collaboration with actor & magician Andy Nyman.
Derren Brown Television Shows:
  • Mind Control (from 2000)
  • Trick of the Mind (2005, 2006)
  • Trick or Treat (2007, 2008)
  • Mind Control with Derren Brown (2007)
  • The Events (for release September 2009)
Derren Brown Television Specials:
Interview of Derren Brown by Sir David Frost on Al Jazeera English (June 20, 2009):



Related Pages:
Derren Brown - Chess Simul (Trick Of The Mind Series)
Derren Brown Being Interviewed By Richard Dawkins For 'The Enemies Of Reason' TV Program


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1700

1700 History Facts:
  • Berlin Academy of Science established.
  • The Vietnamese gain control of the entire Indochina Peninsula.
  • Large part of Edinburgh, Scotland, is destroyed by fire.
  • Medici family of Florence documents the first piano, invented by Bartolommeo Cristofori.
  • One scholar observes that the entire military class of Japan is living "as in an inn, that is, consuming now and paying later".
  • The Cascadia Earthquake, ruptures the Cascadia subduction zone offshore from Vancouver Island to northern California. (January 26)
  • The Great Northern War begins with a joint invasion of Swedish territory in Germany and Latvia by Denmark and Poland/Saxony. (February 12)
  • The island of New Britain is discovered. (February 27)
  • Battle of Narva in Estonia. (November 20)
  • Pope Clement XI succeeds Pope Innocent XII as the 243rd pope. (November 23)
Births:
  • February 9 – Daniel Bernoulli, Dutch mathematician (d. 1782)
  • May 7 – Gerard van Swieten, Dutch-born physician (d. 1772)
  • May 12 – Luigi Vanvitelli, Italian architect (d. 1773)
  • May 19 – José de Escandón, Spanish colonial governor (d. 1770)
  • May 26 – Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, German religious & social reformer (d. 1760)
  • August 13 – Heinrich, count von Brühl, German statesman (d. 1763)
  • September 11 – James Thomson, Scottish poet (d. 1748)
  • September 30 – Stanislaw Konarski, Polish writer (d. 1773)
  • October 10 – Lambert-Sigisbert Adam, French sculptor (d. 1759)
  • November 19 – Jean-Antoine Nollet, French abbot & physicist (d. 1770)
  • November 28 – Nathaniel Bliss, English astronomer (d. 1764)
  • December 25 – Leopold II of Anhalt-Dessau, Prussian general (d. 1751)
Deaths:
  • 21 January – Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort (b. 1629)
  • 22 January – Jacob Balthasar Schutz, composer (b. 1660)
  • May – Louis Jolliet, Canadian explorer (b. 1645)
  • 12 May – John Dryden, English poet and dramatist who was poet laureate (1670–1688)
  • 15 May – John Hale, American witch hunter (b. 1636)
  • July – John Lowther, 1st Viscount Lonsdale, English politician (b. 1655)
  • 29 July – William, Duke of Gloucester (b. 1689)
  • 15 September – André Le Nôtre, French landscape gardener (b. 1613)
  • 27 September – Pope Innocent XII (b. 1615)
  • 1 November – Charles II of Spain (b. 1661)

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Fawlty Towers (TV Program)

Fawlty Towers Facts:
  • Fawlty Towers is a British sitcom produced by BBC Television.
  • It was first broadcast on BBC2 in 1975.
  • Only 12 episodes were produced - 2 series (1975 & 1979) with 6 episodes each.
  • Setting is a fictional hotel called Fawlty Towers
  • The hotel is located in Torquay ('English Riviera')
  • Inspired by the Gleneagles hotel in Torquay.
  • Written by John Cleese and Connie Booth.
Fawlty Towers - The Builders (Episode 2) (Full)



Fawlty Towers 03 - The Wedding Party (Full)




Fawlty Towers - The Hotel Inspectors - Episode 4 (Full)




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Stephen Hawking (Theoretical Physicist)


Stephen Hawking Demographics:
  • Name - Stephen William Hawking
  • Birth - January 8, 1942
  • Nationality - British
  • Occupation - Theoretical physicist
  • Honours - CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA
  • Father - Dr. Frank Hawking, a research biologist.
  • Mother - Isobel Hawking
  • Siblings - 2 sisters, Philippa & Mary, & adopted brother, Edward.
Stephen Hawking Interesting Facts:
  • Contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes.
  • Awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (August 12, 2009).
  • Elected (1974) as one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society.
  • Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
  • Has a neuro muscular dystrophy which has progressed, leaving him now almost completely paralyzed.
  • Professor Hawking was ranked 25th in the 2002 BBC Poll of the 100 Greatest Britons (here).
Stephen Hawking Education & Professional Life:
  • St Albans High School for Girls (1950-1953), admitted boys until age 10 years.
  • St Albans School from age 11 years.
  • Enrolled at University College, Oxford for his degree, choosing physics as mathematics was not available.
  • B.A. degree at Oxford University in 1962.
  • Moved from Oxford to Trinity Hall, Cambridge to study theoretical astronomy & cosmology.
  • Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years (1979 - October 1, 2009).
  • Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
  • Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.
Stephen Hawking Scientific Plaudits:
  • Provided together with Roger Penrose, theorems regarding singularities in the framework of general relativity, including the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation (Hawking radiation or Bekenstein-Hawking radiation).
  • Lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Science.
  • Mathematical proof (with Brandon Carter, Werner Israel & D. Robinson) of John Wheeler's "No-Hair Theorem".
  • Multiple other advances in quantum cosmology, cosmic inflation etc.
Stephen Hawking Awards (Chronology):
  • 1975 - Eddington Medal
  • 1976 - Hughes Medal - Royal Society
  • 1979 - Albert Einstein Medal
  • 1982 - Order of the British Empire (Commander)
  • 1985 - Gold Medal - Royal Astronomical Society
  • 1986 - Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences
  • 1988 - Wolf Prize in Physics
  • 1989 - Prince of Asturias Awards in Concord
  • 1989 - Companion of Honour
  • 1999 - Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize - American Physical Society
  • 2003 - Michelson Morley Award - Case Western Reserve University
  • 2006 - Copley Medal - Royal Society
  • 2008 - Fonseca Price - University of Santiago de Compostela
  • 2009 - Presidential Medal of Freedom (United States)
Stephen Hawking Popular Publications:
  • 1988 - A Brief History of Time, (Bantam Press)
  • 1993 - Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, (Bantam Books)
  • 2001 - The Universe in a Nutshell, (Bantam Press)
  • 2002 - On The Shoulders of Giants. The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy, (Running Press)
  • 2005 - A Briefer History of Time, (Bantam Books)
In this audio message Stephen Hawking responds to his question on the survival of the human race:



Image Credit - NASA StarChild Learning Center Public Domain

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Baby Chicks

A cute video showing a puppy which is attached to a clutch of baby chicks.

Multiplication (Mathematics)

A interesting video showing a method for multiplication.




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