Sunday, June 20, 2010

Magdeburg Hemispheres

I didn't go bike-riding today, I went to Sheffield on the train instead. It still counts as avoiding memory training, I suppose, but at least it's creative. I also bought a new bookcase from Argos yesterday and assembled it myself tonight while watching the football. This will, when I've got round to putting books on it, remove the pile of books currently littering my bedroom floor and will make my flat a more orderly place, more conducive to memory training, so it doesn't count as procrastination at all.

On the way to Sheffield, I passed the time by mentally calculating the volume of a hemisphere of radius 17.3... somethings. I don't actually know what the unit of measurement was, but it doesn't really matter. Anyway, the reason for this is that it was the final task in the Mental Calculation World Cup, and I thought it was a completely awesome question to ask (Magdeburg is big on hemispheres - Otto von Guericke demonstrated the amazing capabilities of his vacuum pump by way of hemispheres and horses in Magdeburg). We got the formula two-thirds-pi-r-cubed and pi to 50 decimal places, and ten minutes to work out the answer as accurately as possible. I got it completely wrong on the day, so this was an exercise to prove I'm entirely capable of doing something like that really. The ability to memorise intermediate results really comes in handy in that kind of question, so it should be a speciality of mine. And yay, I did get it right today (within 0.015, anyway), so that just goes to prove something. Maybe I'll make more of an effort before the next mental calculation competition and try to get good at it.

Also, here's an interesting point raised by an anonymouse - the Asian Games are from November 12 to November 27, the World Memory Championship is now scheduled from December 1 to December 6, and then the Asian Para Games will take place from December 12 to December 19, all in Guangzhou. If the government of Guangzhou doesn't want the WMC to happen before the Asian Games, do they really want it to be sandwiched in between the two like that? (And then there's the question of whether the official explanation is entirely accurate. I'm saying nothing, except to point out that last year's wasn't...)

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