Monthly Archives: May 2021

depending on dwarfs

drshyamalavatsa

Some Indians have been asking the government “Why did you send vaccines meant for our children abroad?”

It’s common knowledge that when Serum Institute of India (SII) agreed to produce the millions of vaccines the world needed last year there were certain licensing agreements with AstraZeneca, UK.

One of them was the WTO’s stipulation that 84% (not sure of this number) of the manufactured vaccine was to go to the COVAX Facility for distribution to low- and middle-income countries, ninety-two of them.

1.1 billion vaccines were apparently manufactured last year on these terms. So the vaccines sent abroad were not the ones “meant for our children”.

The picture is different this year. India has millions of cases and needs millions of vaccines. So India has had to renege on the deal to supply vaccines to COVAX countries. For a while, the country did gamely try to live up to…

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depending on dwarfs

Going Negative, part 3

Let’s start with a joke:

A physicist, a biologist and a mathematician are sitting in a street café one morning watching an empty store on the other side of the street.They see someone unlock the store and go in.Time passes.Someone else goes in. More time passes. Then three people come out.

The physicist says, “Our measurements weren’t accurate.” The biologist says, “The two people who went in must have reproduced.” The mathematician says, “If one more person enters the store, it will be empty.”

Of course the joke here is that the mathematician is holding the absurd belief that there are a negative number of people in the store.1 The joke is built on our shared knowledge that although negative numbers make sense in some contexts, they aren’t sensible in the present context. But the knowledge that negative numbers do make sense in some contexts shouldn’t be taken for…

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Integration by completing the square: ocwmit

The Geometry of Linear Equations: thanks Prof Gilbert Strang, ocwmit

Sir Andrew Wiles on being bright at math:

Yes, some people are brighter than others in math. But I really believe that most people can really reach a good level in math if they are prepared to handle pyschological issues arising out of situations when being stuck.