Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Brown Booby"

Brown Booby, the commonest of the boobies alon...Image via WikipediaOnce you're down in the gutter, it's tough to get yourself back out... so after last week's math whiz, we've got a bird this time. I think that most people are aware that there are a handful (huh huh... handful) of birds out there with rather silly names. And when it comes to this particular genus, really all 'boobies' are equally silly. Knowing there's a group of birds called the 'booby' ought to have been enough. I mean, in addition to breasts, there's just so much silly about the word 'booby' (not to imply that breasts are silly, mind you) - and that includes booby-traps and booby-prizes. The other boobies in this genus are also impressive. i suppose I could have devoted a page to Abbott's Booby or the Masked Booby. Or I could have just pointed you to the totally awesome "Category: Boobies" page at Wikipedia. But perhaps it's the alliteration. Perhaps it's the Vincent Gallo movie. I just know that "Brown Booby" makes me giggle more than any of those other names. And that's impressive.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Jacques Tits"

Jacques TitsImage via Wikipedia
So first off let me apologise for my tragically long absence. I'd intended to keep this going every week, but... well, you know how it is. Anyway, at the risk of falling too deep into sophomoric humour... ah, forget about it. I can't do this week's edition without falling into sophomoric humour. You see, it's about Mr. Tits. or rather Monsieur Tits, a Belgian / French mathematician with a truly awesome name.

I understand precisely zero about any kind of mathematics more complex than division. So although certainly Jacques Tits's contributions to modern life extend further than a giggle-worthy name, the advancements for which he's credited must certainly elicit plenty of snorts on campuses around the world. Unless math students are a truly humourless bunch. To start with, M. Tits is credited with inventing the concept of Tits buildings, which are presumaby erected (ho ho he he) in parts of cities where I would dearly love to live. I'd love to make a hugle list of puns about Tits buildings, but it's rfeally shooting fish in a barrel, isn't it? Truly unfair to those struggling to find a pun-worthy subject.

He's also known for the Tits alternative, something FTM transsexuals have long debated. And additionally, it would appear that the Tits group is named for him. Not in fact a company in which I'd love to have shares (headquartered no doubt in a Tits building), a Tits group is, apparently,

a2 = b3 = (ab)13 = [a,b]5 = [a,bab]4 = (ababababab − 1)6 = 1.

As you were no doubt aware.

Note: I'd like to include some links here, but Zemanta's mind is way dirtier than mine, and all of the links, while clearly sharing in their titles our esteemed professor's surname, seem to have interests in mind more prurient than math. The autosuggested labels for this entry include 'Katy Perry', 'Rihanna', 'Rosa Acosta' and (interestingly) 'Ellen'. This entry is probably going to get my blog autolisted on NSFW sites everywhere. Sigh. Monsieur Tits, this is all your fault.

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