Monthly Archives: April 2016

Improve memory power —some views of human supercomputer Shakuntala Devi

Ref: Super Memory: it can be yours: Shakuntala Devi

Memory power is  an instant recall of facts or figures, physical/concrete or abstract.

Negative emotions like self-pity, fear, anxiety, depression, jealousy or any extreme emotional state of minds impair memory power, concentration power and retention powers. Make a conscious effort to weed out negative thoughts from your mind, to send it positive, harmonious messages. The great sage, Paramahansa Yogananda, asks us to remind outselves every day: “I am a prince(ss) of peace, sitting on the throne of poise, directing my kingdom of activity.” Memorize this sentence. Say it to yourself when you awaken each morning. Repeat it to yourself whenever you find yourself in a situation that threatens upon your mental equilibrium. Gradually, you will find that you maintain your cool more naturally under such circumstances or “exams of life”.

*** The development of memory power or concentration or retention power is gradual. A relaxed mind is necessary. So, do not start hammering yourself in your head or start cursing yourself that I still do not have super memory or  I still forget !! It is closely linked to your aim of life — and that is a big topic by itself —- do you have an aim of life — something you can put in one sentence; and gently repeat this aim of life to yourself several times a day. Then, you will develop an inner focus.

Shakuntala Devi had also advised not to go bed watching “Baywatch” daily in the night. It also means that digital video games, mobile games. even surfing the internet, cinema, play stations, TV serials, Bollywood dances/music/songs will bring down your energy and concentration levels. Put a curb on such garbage like activities !!!

A diet of nuts is very helpful for increasing/maintaining  memory power. Especially, almonds soaked in water overnight; baked salmon (rich in omega-3’s) or Sea Cod or Seven Seas; in India, in ayurvedic medical shops, you can buy “Shankhpushpi”, “Brahmi”, “Memorin Caps”. Or a course of vitamin B complexes.

Regular light exercise or outdoor games will work wonders by increasing endorphins, chemicals which create a positive outlook in life.

Also, you can have a hobby like drawing cartoons, or painting or playing  a musical instrument — something in which you are rapt, absorbed so that your conscious mind gets rest from intense intellectual pursuit and the subconscious mind takes over to finish the challenging Math/Phy/Chem/IITJEE/RMO/INMO problem. This will make your mind get compound benefits or your gains will multiply manifold like you will get 1+1=11

But, do maintain a “gross time table”. Sleep at a scheduled hour. Get up  at a scheduled hour. Min sleep 6+ hours a day. Lunch and dine on time.

Practise Anulom-Vilom daily twice or thrice a day for 3-4 min each. The regular practice of meditation makes us effective and efficient.

(I know all this is age old wisdom…)

More later,

Nalin Pithwa


Strictly Logical

Only an elephant or a whale gives birth to a creature that weighs more than 100 kg.

The President weighs more than 150 kg.

Therefore, …

(Ref: Ian Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities)

More fun on the way !!

Nalin Pithwa

The Cube of Cheese

Ref: Prof Ian Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

An oldie, but none the worse for that. Marigold Mouse has a cube of cheese and a carving knife. She wishes to slice the cheese along a flat plane to obtain that a cross-section that is a regular hexagon. Can she do this, and if so, how?

Please do send your comments, answers, etc.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa

What Shape is a Crescent Moon?

The Moon is low in the sky shortly after sunset or before dawn; the bright part of its surface forms a beautiful creation. The two curves that form the boundary of the crescent resemble arcs of circles, and are often drawn that way. Assuming the Moon to be a perfect sphere, and the Sun’s rays to be parallel, are they arcs of circles?

Ref: Prof Ian Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa

Why no Nobel Prize for Mathematics?

Why didn’t Alfred Nobel set up a mathematics prize? There’s a persistent story that Nobel’s wife had an affair with the Swedish mathematician Gosta Mittag-Leffler, so Nobel hated mathematicians. But, there is a problem with this theory, because Nobel never married. Some versions of the story replace the hypothetical wife with a fiancee or a mistress. Nobel may have had a mistress —- a Viennese lady called Sophie Hess — but there is no evidence that she had anything to do with Mittag-Leffler.

An alternative theory holds that Mittag-Leffler, who became quite wealthy himself, did something to annoy Nobel. Since Mittag-Leffler was the leading Swedish mathematician of the time, Nobel  realized that he was very likely to win a prize for mathematics, and decided not to set one up. However, in 1985, Lars Garding and Lars Hormander noted that Nobel left Sweden in 1865, to live in Paris, and seldom returned — and in 1865 Mittage-Leffler was a young student. So, there was little opportunity for them to interact, which casts doubt on both theories.

It is true that late in Nobel’s life, Mittag-Leffler was chosen to negotiate with him about leaving to the Stockholm Hogskola (which later became the University) a significant amount of money in his will, and this attempt eventually failed — but, presumably, Mittag-Leffler would not have been chosen if he’d already offended Nobel. In any case, Mittag-Leffler wasn’t likely to win a mathematical Nobel if one existed — there were plenty of more prominent mathematicians around. So, it seems more likely that it simply never occurred to Nobel to award a prize for mathematics, or that he considered the idea and rejected it, or that he didn’t want to spend even more cash.

Despite this, several mathematicians and mathematical physicists have won the prize for work in other areas — physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine, even literature. They have also won the Nobel in economics — the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, established by the Sveriges Riksbank in 1968.

Ref: Prof Ian Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities (PS: there are many other stories, puzzles with diagrams, etc. which you would like in this book. It would be a good addition to your library!! You can discuss such light stuff with friends and impress them !!)

More later,

Nalin Pithwa








Math is a tear-jerker or fun ?

Well, listen to what my niece asked me:

“Why was the math book crying?”

“I don’t know”.

“Oh, because it was full of problems !! 😦 😦 😦 ”

Nalin Pithwa

PS: I will surely churn out more problems for my students !


A list of famous mathematicians and some career possibilities in math

Note: As put forth by Prof. Ian Stewart in his Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

All the people listed below — except one — either started a degree (or joint degree) in mathematics, or studied under famous mathematicians, or were professional mathematicians in their other life. What are they famous for? Which person does not belong to the list?

Pierre Boulez

Sergey Brin

Lewis Carroll

J. M. Coetzee

Alberto Fujimori

Art Garfunkel

Philip Grass

Teri Hatcher

Edmund Husserl

Michael Jordan

Theodore Kaczzyski

John Maynard Keynes

Carole King

Emanuel Lasker

J P Morgan

Larry Niven

Alexander Solzhhenitsyn

Bram Stoker

Leon Trotsky

Eamon de Valera

Carol Vorderman

Virginia Wade

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Sir Christopher Wren

Also, check whether all of them did just pure math or applied math? If they worked as applied mathematicians, you too can choose pure math as a professional career. Digressing:

We are living in a world immersed in science and technology — we use mathematical ideas or inventions based on mathematical concepts — like bar codes; cellular telephony; secure communications (to secure digital financial transactions); fuzzy logic in washing machines and refrigerators; weather prediction; design of airplanes/aircrafts and cars, etc. If you wish, you can google these words/applications, and find out what type of math they need or use.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa

Another mathematical joke

Referece: Prof. Ian Stewart’s cabinet of mathematical curiosities.

An engineer, a physicist  and a mathematician are staying in a hotel. The engineer wakes up  and smells smoke. He goes in to the hallway, sees a fire, fills the waste paper basket from his room with water, and pours it into the fire, putting it out.

Later, the physicist wakes up and smells smoke. He goes into the hallway and sees a (second) fire. He pulls a fire hose off the wall, Having calculated the temperature of the exothermic reaction, the velocity of the flame front, the water pressure in the hose, and so on, he uses the hose to put out the fire with the minimum expenditure of energy.

Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. He goes into the hallway and sees a (third) fire. He notices the fire hose on the wall, and thinks for a moment…Then, he says, “Oh, a solution exists!” —- and goes back to bed.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Nalin Pithwa

Hippopotamian logic

Ref: Prof. Ian Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

I won’t eat my hat.

If hippos don’t eat acorns, then oak trees will grow in Africa.

If oak trees don’t grow in Africa, then squirrels hibernate in winter.

If hippos eat acorns, and squirrels hibernate in winter, then I’ll eat my hat.

Therefore — what?

More later,

Nalin Pithwa

Six Pens

SixPensIanStewartRef: Prof. Ian Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

Farmer Hogswill has run into another mathematico-agricultural problem. He had carefully assembled 13 identical fence panels to  create 6 identical pens for his rare-breed Alexander-horned pigs. But, during the night some anti social person stole one of his panels. So, now he needs to use 12 fence panels to create 6 identical pens. How can he achieve this? All 12 panels must be used.

More later.

Nalin Pithwa.