Archimedes and Combinatorics

It seems that an old text of Archimedes has been found in a palimpest, that is to say, in a deeper layer of a document with newer writing on it.
It turns out that the treatise, the Stomachion, deals with a branch of mathematics not thought to be studied in antiquity–Combinatorics. Combinatorics deals with how many ways you can solve a problem. Its not trivial at all, its a branch of mathematics that has only really taken off with the advent of computers. But it seems the genuis who shouted “Eureka!” might have worked on the field.
The coincidences that led to the funal unearthing and decipherment of the document are pretty spooky, as Making Light, where I got the link, points out.
And you can apparently even buy one of these Archimedes puzzles online.

Monday Mashup: Into Thin Air

One of the bad things about losing a swath of my archives is that I don’t have categories for things like the Monday Mashup. I’ll probably convert this in time once that is straightened out.
And I know I am late, but Bryant’s Monday, Dec 1st Mashup is :
Jon Krakauer�s Into Thin Air. It�s all about man versus nature, with themes of ecological awareness and man competing with man as side dishes. Great book, even if there�s controversy about what exactly happened up there.

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Vernor Vinge and Amber?

Only noticed it today, but Claire has a great piece on using non fantasy cosmologies for fantasy worlds (ie Amber)
Its not unknown to me. Those who have read my SB cosmology have seen the influence of my science background.
Also, I was, back in Purgatory, playing around with some concepts of String Theory with FTF stuff I was doing with my then-girlfriend. Some of those ideas might wind up in a game of mine.
Sometimes, its the surplus of ideas, rather than the paucity, that causes me to wonder what I am going to run at things like ACUS.