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## Insight

### Intuitive explanation of “Brownian motion”

Consider a large balloon of 100 metres in diameter. Imagine this large balloon in a football stadium. The balloon is so large that it lies on top of many members of the crowd. Because they are excited, these fans hit the balloon at different times and in different directions with the motions being completely random. In the end, the balloon is pushed in random directions, so it should not move on average. Consider now the force exerted at a certain time. We might have 20 supporters pushing right, and 21 other supporters pushing left, where each supporter is exerting equivalent amounts of force. In this case, the forces exerted towards the left and the right are imbalanced in favor of the left; the balloon will move slightly to the left. This type of imbalance exists at all times, and it causes random motion of the balloon. If we look at this situation from far above, so that we cannot see the supporters, we see the large balloon as a small object animated by erratic movement. Consider the particles emitted by Brown’s pollen grain moving randomly in water: we know that a water molecule is about 0.1 by 0.2 nm in size, whereas the particles which Brown observed were of the order of a few micrometres in size (these are not to be confused with the actual pollen particle which is about 100 micrometres). So a particle from the pollen may be likened to the balloon, and the water molecules to the fans, except that in this case the balloon is surrounded by fans. The Brownian motion of a particle in a liquid is thus due to the instantaneous imbalance in the combined forces exerted by collisions of the particle with the much smaller liquid molecules (which are in random thermal motion) surrounding it.

Brownian motion on Wiki

Basically, Brownian motion of a body is what happens when a very large number of similar forces act on the same body from all possible directions. If the forces were uniform and applied at the same time to the body then there wouldn’t be any movement but since there are slight differences in the direction, strength and time of application of the forces, the body begins to move like in the simulation below of a large dust particle (yellow) experiencing brownian motion due to collision with the smaller gas molecules around it.

The clever thing is that the same can be said of stock price fluctuations where millions of tiny trading exchanges between people (small brown gas particles) push the stock price (large yellow dust particle) into a form of Brownian motion called Geometric Brownian motion. Hundreds of billions of dollars are moving similar to the lowly dust in the air around you right now. Self-similarity, once again.

The smooth motion of rotating circles can be used to build up any repeating curve even one as angular as a digital square wave. Each circle spins at a multiple of a fundamental frequency, and a method called Fourier analysis shows how to pick the radiuses of the circles to make the picture work. Decomposing signals like this lies at the heart of a lot of signal processing. [more] [code]

They should teach this in schools, right?

#### "The biggest leaps are almost always early in the development of a technology. For example, consider the change from superstition and folk remedies to the germ theory of disease. Even with all the medical advances since, what can compare to that leap?"

Developer John Siracusa

#### "You must remember that anyone under 30 — especially a ballplayer — is an adolescent,” he once told me. “I never got close to being an adult until I was 32. Even though I was married and had a son at 20, I was a kid at 32, living at home with my parents. Sure, I was a manager then. That doesn’t mean you’re grown up. “Until you’re the person that other people fall back on, until you’re the one that’s leaned on, not the person doing the leaning, you’re not an adult. You reach an age when suddenly you realize you have to be that person. Divorce did it to me. It could be elderly parents, children . . . anything. But one day you realize, ‘It’s me. I’ve got to be the rock.’ "

Sportswriter, Thomas Boswell via How you know when you’re an adult

Arnold replied with this handwritten answer. Very practical advice. So simple, yet so often overlooked.

### “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not… “: Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction

You know all those TV shows and movies and anime where the guy and girl never say what they feel and this drags on to the point of insanity and you’re like “JUST TELL IT ALREADY DAMMIT!!”? Turns out that pointless, annoying dilly-dallying is actually beneficial to the success of the relationship.

This research qualifies a social psychological truism: that people like others who like them (the reciprocity principle). College women viewed the Facebook profiles of four male students who had previously seen their profiles. They were told that the men (a) liked them a lot, (b) liked them only an average amount, or (c) liked them either a lot or an average amount (uncertain condition). Comparison of the first two conditions yielded results consistent with the reciprocity principle. Participants were more attracted to men who liked them a lot than to men who liked them an average amount Results for the uncertain condition, however, were consistent with research on the pleasures of uncertainty. Participants in the uncertain condition were most attracted to the men—even more attracted than were participants who were told that the men liked them a lot. Uncertain participants reported thinking about the men the most, and this increased their attraction toward the men.

So next time you fall in love, don’t tell them right away. Tease them with your uncertainty till they (and all who observe) end up in a mental asylum ‘cause apparently that’s how humans work (doing this increases the time the target thinks of you leading to higher chances of a favorable response). Marlon Brando employed this strategy in his life and he was quoted approaching friendships as a spider tackles its prey; he moves closer, pulls back after a while and then moves closer again thus slowly weaving his target into his web.

The whole process, to me, is very convoluted but knowing the reason for why this strategy seems successful makes it a bit more palatable. If I have to give an anology, this strategy of maintaining ucertainty is like a dance and dance is way more harder and absolutely pointless when the goal is simply to move from point A(strangers) to point B(relationship) when compared to just walking straight from A to B. Yet dance is undeniably more memorable and interesting than just marching from point A to point B. Guess it’s the same deal here, when it comes to human relationships the memorable and more interesting “uncertainty” approach has a higher success rate than the straighforward approach.

(Of course, the rich and the famous and the beautiful have no need for these convoluted strategies, these are mainly for normies like you and me.)

### Inspiration from trapeze artists

Like a trapeze artist, there is sure to be a moment of mid-air terror as we bridge to our new self, terror which may include status-undermining stints as professional spaghetti thrower or underemployed IP expert.  Ironically, we are far less likely to experience a face-palming splat during a transition if we fling ourselves onto the next curve.  Remember too, that while we may think we crave the predictability of nary a transition or modulation to a new key of life, our brain requires the dopamine of the unpredictable.  It may well be that in the seeming terrible moment of transition as we leap to our passionate self, there is just enough—space, for us to discover who we really are.

### An epiphany about Charisma and Steve Jobs

It just struck me that the reason for Steve Jobs’s mass appeal/charisma comes from the fact that he, among other things, made tangible products i.e, hardware. By that I mean, if he had made only software products his charisma, though present, would be far more diminished in stature. Because it’s a far more direct experience to feel the texture of brushed aluminum under your palms or the smoothness of glass underneath your finger tips or the thinness and lightness of a Macbook Air than it is to enjoy abstract elements like the aesthetics of typography, it’s my belief that his charisma and appeal came from people experiencing his hardware and not the software. Not to say people weren’t taken in by his software, just that hardware played a much bigger role making the contribution from software negligible.

This means if you want charisma, do things that are directly tangible as opposed to the abstract. Drive fast cars, not scribble math on napkins; when deep in thought, don’t just stare into space, smoke a cig or do an effortless sonic with your pen. Because charisma comes from doing tangible things.

There may come a time when human intellect has advanced far enough that mathematic differentiation will excite or terrorize while integration will soothe, satisfy or confuse. But until such time when humans find today’s abstract concepts as tangible as the shock from an exposed electrical wire, turn to tangible things when you want to induce charisma in others towards you.

### What is Love?

This is a google doc I made containing excerpts from Evolution, Emotion and Reason: Love, a lecture by Peter Salovey, Professor of Psychology and Dean of Yale College.

Girls vs Guys Google reveals all.

#### "Third, love your users. If you build it, they won’t come. Building consumer web startups is absolutely not like building a car… It’s more like throwing a really awesome party. And nobody throws parties for people who they don’t love."

Garry Tan, founder of Posterous

#### "One who believes all of a book would be better off without books"

Mencius, who believed education must awaken the innate abilities of the human mind and thus denounced memorization and advocated active interrogation of the text.

Bruce Barton

### I finally figured out the rule-of-thirds

After months of wrestling with understanding the science behind the art of composition, just 30 seconds ago while watching this video, I had a moment of epiphany when it all became clear. 6 minutes and 28 seconds into the video, there’s a shot of polar bear lying on the ground and the shot is composed according to the rule-of-thirds with the polar bear positioned in the lower-right. So far, so good. But then the bear starts to get up and that’s when it all clicked into place.

Putting a subject dead-center in the frame limits the amount “whitespace” around it making the photo feel “claustrophobic’. Instead we put the subject in one of the four corners of the 2D plane of the photo. Since putting the subject exactly at, or too close to a corner makes it feel claustrophobic again, we give the subject a bit of a margin from the nearest corners and edges and these 4 locations corresponding to each corner form the positions on the rule-of-thirds window.

I should have caught on to this from the simple fact that there are four locations where subjects can be placed as per the rule-of-thirds window and there are also… you guessed it, four corners — it’s easy to see the rule-of-thirds window is closely related to the corners of the photo. Had I seen this earlier, the rest  understanding that the rule-of-thirds is merely a framing method to give appropriate amount of “whitespace” for the subject to “breathe” in  would’ve been a piece of cake. Instead it took me months of head-wringing to finally see the light.

So, putting the subject in the dead-center of a photo is like standing inside a tiny-cramped cage while framing the subject using rule-of-thirds is like standing inside a humongously large cathedral. There are some subjects that look better in tiny cramped spaces and thus suit the dead-center framing while the others look better in cathedral-like spaces and thus suit the rule-of-thirds framing.

What benefit do we get from understanding the rule-of-thirds is just a way to give the subject “whitespace”? Simple! We can now bend it and break it to create new compositions because once we understand that framing is all about allocating whitespace around the subject, we are freed from the strict 4 corners of the rule-of-thirds window and now a wide variety of interesting locations and compositions become available to us since we can roam all around the photo looking for just the right amount of whitespace to give to the subject of that particular shot.

This last part, where to use what amount of “whitespace” is still an art for me. I have some clues but some day I’ll nail the science behind the art of “whitespace” like I did today with rule-of-thirds.