Thursday, June 17, 2004

Count your Blessings

One of the coolest things about CAP (Computers Assisting People) is the people you deal with. Not just the recipients and the volunteers, though they have stories that could fill several volumes.

Because we are volunteers and many of our large donation pickups need to be done during office hours, we sometimes use guys from local shelters and other agencies that we have a relationship with.

Just last week we worked with some guys just out of prison. They are always good for some fascinating stories but this one stuck with me.

We took them to the Galleria after a work session so they could get something to eat. One of the men had just been released from prison after 16 years. His eyes grew as he looked at the plethora of choices available at the food court. He hadn’t been able to select his food - and certainly not such a variety - in over 16 years.

He settled on some Chinese food, which he had never had before.

Remember that the next time you are feeling unfotrtunate or depressed - and count your blessings.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Major Problem Solved?

There are about 7 major problems in Mathematics that have been around for a century or so and have a $1 million reward if solved.

It looks like one of them has been solved.

In 1904, the brilliant Henri Poncare (the other great mathematician of his era was David Hilbert) came up with a conjecture in topology regarding the 3-sphere. Basincally it says that the 3-sphere is unique among all 3-D manifolds. A young (all great mathematics is done at a very early age) Russian mathematician named Grigori Perelman posted his proof and has been defending it the last 2 years. It looks like it is accurate.

It is possible that our universe might have the shape of a 3-sphere. The math behind the new proof may influence particle physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Scientific American has a great explanation and even a primer on topology in the July issue.