Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The mighty game of Go...

Here are some random thoughts that have come into my head over the last 24 hours, which might give you some indication of the bizarre ways that my brain works.

1) A performer is juggling on a jumbo jet. He throws a ball into the air. At its highest point, the ball, for an infinitely small point of time, is perfectly motionless, before it falls back into the performer's hand. However, the ball is never really perfectly still, for it is moving along with the plane at 895 km/h at cruising speed. The plane is flying around the Earth, which rotates at 1674 km/h which means if the plane is flying in a westerly direction, it's actually going backwards. The Earth itself is orbiting around the Sun at on average 107,218 km/h. The Sun itself is orbiting around the centre of the galazy, the Milky Way at a staggering 217 km per second (That's 718,200 km/h). The Milky Way is hurtling through space at around 600 km per second. That means the Milky Way moves a staggering 51.84 million kilometres a day. No wonder it's so difficult to get any stillness nowadays...

2) The number of final positions of the chinese game of Go is larger than the number of atoms in the Universe. The number of atoms in 12 grams of carbon is 1,400,000 times the age of the universe in seconds. I have been alive for 19 years. That's 1/720,000,000 of the estimated age of the universe. To put that into perspective, if the universe existed for one year, I would have existed for aproximately one tenth of the time it takes to blink. That is a lot of final positions for the game of Go.

3) You may have heard that, unless you're Sentinelese and unsociably chase off with arrows and javelins anybody who's not from your remote tribe on a small island near Burma, that there are six degrees of separation between you and anyone else in the world. You can also theoretically get from any Wikipedia article to another with a maximum of six clicks (you can test that here).

So in conclusion, I am just one of six billion people in the world, but nearly every single one of them is practically my next-door neighbour. The world is obviously a small place, which is also moving incredibly quickly through a rather large universe. But nothing compares in size to the number of final positions of a game of Go. But if you were Sentinelese, this wouldn't matter, because you don't even know how to make fire. On the other hand, one expedition noticed that the Sentinelese had what appeared to be an 8x8 game board. So maybe they prefer chess.


  1. This is such a funny post! I want your mp3 player, but can't manage to get mine working (my computer is so slow)

  2. Ahhh you're amazing!!!

  3. please please please could you post the card... :-(
    My friend's birthday was ytd
    Thank you Stephen.