Search found 308 matches

by Aiwendil
Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:54 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"
Replies: 187
Views: 54499

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Barad is sindarin for tower. Torech means lair, so it related to the system of caves that Shelob inhabited.


Oh my; I have no excuse for such a glaring error. I must go and perform ritual readings of The History of Middle-earth to cleanse myself. Thanks for the correction.
by Aiwendil
Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:18 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"
Replies: 187
Views: 54499

Re: 1087: "Cirith Ungol"

Technically it isn't where Shelob lurks(it's the nearby watchtower), but close enough I suppose.


No, Cirith Ungol is the pass through the mountains, where Shelob lurks (Cirith Ungol means 'Pass of the Spider' in Sindarin). The tower is actually called Torech Ungol ('Tower of the Spider').
by Aiwendil
Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:57 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1081: "Argument Victory"
Replies: 253
Views: 61626

Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

What is it about crackpots that makes them use so many fonts, anyway? I mean, if I found that no one was taking me seriously, my first reaction would not be "I know, I'll make all the important words blue and no two consecutive sentences the same size! And if that doesn't work, I'll try centeri...
by Aiwendil
Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:30 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1078: "Knights"
Replies: 164
Views: 54505

Re: 1078: "Knights"

Surely, I thought, I'll be the first to have noticed either a) that the black queen is on the wrong square, b) that it's not actually a 'gambit', in the chess sense, or c) that the alt text has Ne3 when clearly Nf3 was intended.

These boards keep making me realize that I'm just not that special.
by Aiwendil
Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:45 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Yes, it's.
Replies: 7
Views: 3822

Re: Yes, it's.

Or you could contract it with "Yes, 'tis."
by Aiwendil
Wed May 02, 2012 9:54 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Playtesting a Standard Model Game
Replies: 82
Views: 18152

Re: Playtesting a Standard Model Game

I've only glanced at your explanation, but I suspect you've done something wrong in applying the length contraction. When you combine the two length contractions, you seem to end up with a large length dilation for, say, the distance between the target and a bullet that's about to hit it. But length...
by Aiwendil
Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:33 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Playtesting a Standard Model Game
Replies: 82
Views: 18152

Re: Playtesting a Standard Model Game

I assumed that the bullets originating from a point other than the gun and disappearing at a point other than the target was a glitch. If not, it's definitely incorrect. If a bullet is fired from a gun, then all observers, in all reference frames, will see it come from the gun. And if it hits a targ...
by Aiwendil
Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:14 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Common Misconceptions within Physics and Astronomy
Replies: 98
Views: 18167

Re: Common Misconceptions within Physics and Astronomy

In quantum field theory, the strength of the strong, the electromagnetic and the weak interaction can be given via dimensionless parameters. It is easy to compare them, and it is related to the strength at small distances. It's perhaps worth adding that if you define the strengths of the forces in ...
by Aiwendil
Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:57 am UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: xkcd's favourite 100 books - vote now!
Replies: 226
Views: 179283

Re: xkcd's favourite 100 books - vote now!

I feel like somebody has to point out that the Hitchhiker series now has forty-two votes.
by Aiwendil
Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:21 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1042: "Never"
Replies: 82
Views: 32348

Re: #1042: "Never"

anyone else think of the black pool resembling the "Skin of Evil" aka Armus from TNG? Yes. In fact, I didn't quite get it for a few seconds because I was trying to parse the comic as being TNG-related. From most to least natural, I'd rank the alternatives as follows: 1) ...or who I build ...
by Aiwendil
Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:01 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: "these ones"
Replies: 35
Views: 8651

Re: "these ones"

I'm from northern New Jersey, and 'these ones' sounds quite correct and unremarkable in my idiolect. If I had to guess, I'd say that the feeling of 'wrongness' some people have concerning this usage is rooted in an uncomfortability about pluralizing the word 'one'.
by Aiwendil
Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:08 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Ain't/Amn't/Aren't
Replies: 7
Views: 4323

Re: Ain't/Amn't/Aren't

I ain't do anything Have you actually encountered this construction (with or without the double negative)? In my experience, this would rather be: 'I ain't done anything' (or more likely, 'I ain't done nothing'). That is, it seems to me that 'ain't' is able to be used for 'have not', but not for 'd...
by Aiwendil
Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:30 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Hot debate about probability on Richard Wiseman's blog
Replies: 18
Views: 2739

Re: Hot debate about probability on Richard Wiseman's blog

The Monty Hall problem is this problem, without the yellow stone. Well, that's true if you interpret the problem as saying that the person follows a rule whereby he looks at both stones in his hand, chooses a blue one if there is one, and displays it. As has been discussed, it's not clear whether t...
by Aiwendil
Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:31 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Hot debate about probability on Richard Wiseman's blog
Replies: 18
Views: 2739

Re: Hot debate about probability on Richard Wiseman's blog

I'd say that if the way the blue stone was selected is unknown, then the problem isn't well-defined. If we don't know the rules that govern the selection, then from our point of view, the probability of a given outcome will depend not only on the explicit parameters of the problem (number of stones ...
by Aiwendil
Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:37 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Hot debate about probability on Richard Wiseman's blog
Replies: 18
Views: 2739

Re: Hot debate about probability on Richard Wiseman's blog

I wouldn't say it's a variant of the Monty Hall problem. The key to the Monty Hall problem is that an omniscient host reveals an additional piece of information to the contestant, and reveals it in a predictable way. This problem has no such component. There is a possible ambiguity in the statement ...
by Aiwendil
Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:11 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0979: "Wisdom of the Ancients"
Replies: 219
Views: 86317

Re: 0979: "Wisdom of the Ancients"

Ancient and mediaeval cultures certainly did have a concept of poetry and were well aware of a distinction between verse and prose. The rhyme and metre that have dominated English verse from the fourteenth century or so are not the only organizing principles poetry can be built on. Most Germanic cul...
by Aiwendil
Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:04 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0979: "Wisdom of the Ancients"
Replies: 219
Views: 86317

Re: 0979: "Wisdom of the Ancients"

jpk wrote:For me, a poem is metrical and rhymed,


Then you consider 'Beowulf', the 'Aeneid', and the 'Odyssey' to be prose? Most ancient and mediaeval civilizations would be quite surprised to learn that their great poetic traditions did not, in fact, include any poems.
by Aiwendil
Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:51 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Cosmology Question
Replies: 21
Views: 2988

Re: Cosmology Question

To flip that on its head, what if as the universe expands, the speed at which time passes slowly decreases when looked at from an external point of view? The thing is, there is no external viewpoint. One can't get outside the universe. It makes no sense to speak of 'the speed at which time passes',...
by Aiwendil
Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:06 pm UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: Books you never finished
Replies: 280
Views: 168884

Re: Books you never finished

Another vote for the Silmarillion. I don't really think anyone actually reads it. Shock! Outrage! Not only have I read it many times; I've read the twelve volume History of Middle-earth multiple times as well, and as a whole the Silmarillion-corpus is probably my favourite body of literature. I usu...
by Aiwendil
Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:01 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]
Replies: 338
Views: 153969

Re: English as She Is Spoke [English practice]

I meant that they are the same grammatical construction, the pronouns differing only in person. I don't know - personally speaking, I most definitely hear the 'you' in 'what say you' as nominative/subjective. 'What say them' sounds quite wrong (non-standard) to me; I would expect 'what say they'. T...
by Aiwendil
Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:57 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Little editing/grammar mistakes that drive you up the wall
Replies: 784
Views: 109370

Re: Little editing/grammar mistakes that drive you up the wa

No, I don't think you are on the same page. Lazar is saying that 'Woe is I' is incorrect not (merely) because it contradicts popular usage but because the 'me' is not a predicate nominative but a dative. So even if one insists on such things as 'It is I' or 'What would you do if you were I?' one cou...
by Aiwendil
Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:38 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable
Replies: 166
Views: 43409

Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

The r is definitely not a null character so advocating its removal is absurd. It has just as much right to belong as the "e" after consonants modifying the previous vowel (i.e. not very much, but until you come up with a better way of conveying the same information, it'll do). I never cla...
by Aiwendil
Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:18 pm UTC
Forum: Music
Topic: Good sites to learn viola?
Replies: 2
Views: 1866

Re: Good sites to learn viola?

Please forgive my completely unhelpful response - but don't violas typically use the alto clef (middle C on the middle line), not the bass?
by Aiwendil
Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:14 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable
Replies: 166
Views: 43409

Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

I use 'were' for the subjunctive and unapologetically correct people when I hear them use 'was'. Okay, in reality, first I gauge how good-naturedly they're likely to take my correction (which is itself intended quite good-naturedly) and then I either correct them or scowl and become unaccountably le...
by Aiwendil
Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:24 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Well, this could change things (neutrinos)
Replies: 289
Views: 44350

Re: Well, this could change things (neutrinos)

Strictly speaking, the rate of expansion of the universe doesn't have units of speed; it has units of inverse time. The speed at which two objects are moving away from each other due to the expansion of the universe is given by the expansion rate times the distance between them. So, for any rate of ...
by Aiwendil
Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:50 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: a [noun]'s [noun in plural]
Replies: 3
Views: 2918

Re: a [noun]'s [noun in plural]

The indefinite article didn't really exist in Old English. The ancestor of our 'a'/'an' was O.E. 'an', which meant 'one'. This was sometimes used where we would use the indefinite article, but more often no article was used. Old English did, however, have the definite article. Like any adjective, ei...
by Aiwendil
Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:53 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Well, this could change things (neutrinos)
Replies: 289
Views: 44350

Re: Well, this could change things (neutrinos)

From a layman's standpoint however, all I'm getting out of this is someone claiming it could not possibly be true, but not explaining why they are getting the result they are. Not sure how useful that actually is. Well, the paper isn't trying to provide an explanation for the OPERA result, but it i...
by Aiwendil
Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:06 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Well, this could change things (neutrinos)
Replies: 289
Views: 44350

Re: Well, this could change things (neutrinos)

Another good paper: http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1109/1109.6562v1.pdf Essentially, they show that superluminal neutrinos would pair produce at a high enough rate that they would rapidly lose energy. This would lead to a significant distortion of the energy spectrum of the observed neutrinos -...
by Aiwendil
Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:21 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Sarcasm/Irony
Replies: 32
Views: 12986

Re: Sarcasm/Irony

I've always defined irony as "Saying something and very obviously meaning something different" Irony is definitely broader than that; it need not involve anything being said at all. As Makri points out, fate can be ironic (a fire station burning down, for example). Then there's dramatic i...
by Aiwendil
Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:31 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Small interactions between QM systems
Replies: 1
Views: 674

Re: Small interactions between QM systems

The issue of what constitutes a measurement in the QM sense is not exactly settled. But a measurement is not the same as an interaction. Rather, when two particles interact, what typically happens is that they become entangled . But to answer your question: How can the electromagnetic force act on t...
by Aiwendil
Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:58 am UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: On or in a TV show
Replies: 18
Views: 14548

Re: On or in a TV show

Because I had to open the book and look at its insides to read it. If I learned something from reading the back cover, for instance, I'd say I read it on the cover. But you are quite right that in many cases the use of one preposition or another is a matter of convention. Maybe a better example is t...
by Aiwendil
Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:49 pm UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: "A Novel"
Replies: 12
Views: 6343

Re: "A Novel"

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell: A Novel is among my favourite books.
by Aiwendil
Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:32 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Why do "secant" lines and "1/cos" share a name?
Replies: 11
Views: 6056

Re: Why do "secant" lines and "1/cos" share a name?

The word "secant" comes from Latin "secare", "to cut". The meaning in reference to the "secant line" that crosses a given curve is pretty straightforward, then; the secant is thought of as cutting across the curve. The trigonometric meaning of "secant&quo...
by Aiwendil
Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:19 am UTC
Forum: Music
Topic: Song Identification!
Replies: 458
Views: 196519

Re: Song Identification!

Thank you! That's it - the slow movement from the 'Serenade Quartet'. That had been bothering me for a long time.
by Aiwendil
Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:17 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Energy-momentum invariant problem
Replies: 4
Views: 1970

Re: Energy-momentum invariant problem

Well, what would go in the parentheses at the right would be the sum of the proton and pion momenta after the interaction. But it sounds like these are not constrained, if I understand the problem correctly. The problem is asking you to minimize p gamma , and the final momenta of the proton and pion...
by Aiwendil
Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:25 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: What do you feel in orbit around a massive object?
Replies: 18
Views: 2862

Re: What do you feel in orbit around a massive object?

My question is: do you perceive the crushing gravitational force? For instance, would there be adverse effects on your body? Also, what if you're in freefall instead of orbit? Orbit is free-fall. Or, to think of it another way, a 'non-orbital' free-fall is just an orbit that happens to intersect wi...
by Aiwendil
Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:57 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable
Replies: 166
Views: 43409

Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

Good just happens to be an exception where we feel we must do an adverb because... well, really, because some old dudes decided that's how it should be. Pretty much, anything that is accepted colloquially but not in writing for a really arbitrary reason. Actually, 'well' has existed as an adjective...
by Aiwendil
Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:59 am UTC
Forum: Music
Topic: Song Identification!
Replies: 458
Views: 196519

Re: Song Identification!

There's a fragment of melody stuck in my head that's been driving me crazy for some time now. I have a vague feeling it's from a lighter piece by Mozart or Beethoven (a serenade or divertimento, for instance), but I've gone through my collection and have been unable to locate it. Does anyone recogni...
by Aiwendil
Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:27 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Could string theory and linguistics be related?
Replies: 6
Views: 3664

Re: Could string theory and linguistics be related?

Cows cannot speak English. Cow also do not know string theory. There may be a connection.


You know, I think you're on to something here - another example of beings who neither speak English nor know string theory comes readily to mind: string theorists.
by Aiwendil
Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:09 pm UTC
Forum: Language/Linguistics
Topic: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable
Replies: 166
Views: 43409

Re: Grammatical errors you think should be acceptable

I don't know, things like 'ten items or less' really do sound wrong to me on a fairly basic level, in a way that those other baselessly proscribed constructions don't. Now, it's quite possible that this is because the 'rule' has been so well drilled into my head that I've thoroughly assimilated it. ...

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