Author Archives: blueocean

Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley

Last week, my good friend Mr Fonz and I treated ourselves to a nice lunch at Marcus Wareing’s restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. It was an interesting experience, particularly because of the fact that I’m usually not much of a ‘frills’ sort of person. We opted for the set lunch at £38 each for 3 courses, simply because it’s a nice way to sample the delights of a Michelin 2-starred restaurant at a reasonable price (the a la […]

Shuffling Cycles

Playing cards and number theory go together like young boys and bishops. Here’s an interesting application of mathematical cycles that involves card shuffling. The type of shuffle in the photo above is called a ‘riffle shuffle’. I’m sure you’ve all seen it before. You split the deck into two parts and interlock the parts together by using a fanning motion. The way most people do it in general is quite randomly and haphazardly, which is fair enough because the idea […]

Why LA Noire should have been more like Heavy Rain

First things first – let me say that LA Noire is an enjoyable experience with a gripping plot. I had a lot of fun playing through it. That said, as a piece of interactive gaming, it falls short in a couple of key areas. Open world? LA Noire is a Rockstar game at heart. It uses the same engine and open-world mechanic that made the Grand Theft Auto games so rich and lasting. But you have to understand why GTA […]

The Pigeonhole Principle: Fun with Functions

Maths is full of cool theorems. The Pigeonhole Principle is one of my favourites because of the fact that it is so powerful and quite tricky to prove, yet so intuitive and easy to understand. Before I can talk about it though, I need to introduce you to the world of mathematical functions. Functions In maths, a function is a ‘mapping’ from one ‘space’ to another. The ones that people are used to seeing are things like f(x) = x2 […]

Asymmetric information and high school effort grades

In high school, I remember thinking how our grading system was a total farce. We weren’t graded on ‘results’, allegedly. Instead, our teachers gave us a grading based on our ‘effort’. There were 5 grades in total: C – Commendable G – Good S – Satisfactory D – Disappointing U – Unsatisfactory To me this was complete nonsense, because effort is not observable! What the teachers did was to look at the end product, and use that to infer some […]

Cereal Nutrition

Yum. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. And hopefully, you should all know by now that skipping it is not a good idea. Breakfast cereals are big business – other than toast, cereals are by far the most common way to start the day. But how nutritious are these cereals? I decided to find out. I managed to collect nutritional information for 117 of the major branded cereals in the UK. After whacking them into a great big […]

Pythagoras would have liked TV shopping

Pythagoras’ theorem is one of the beauties of mathematics. Something so simple as being able to work out sides of a right angled triangle has had pretty much unlimited use in practical engineering as well as very theoretical linear algebra and calculus. For those of you less mathematically inclined, I’ll explain briefly what the theorem says and then show you a nice real-world application of it. The Theorem If your years of mathematics are long gone and forgotten, then Pythagoras’ […]

Intelligence and wage – a positively skewed hump?

Labour economists devote much of their time to looking at what factors affect wages. The classic regressions they run show that you are likely to have a higher wage if you’ve been to school for more years and if you have more work experience. This seems pretty intuitive and obvious. They’ve also looked at how IQ/intelligence affects wages. The general consensus is the common sense one – you earn more if you’re smarter. Again, this makes sense intuitively. There’s a […]

Pupillary Protest

‘Pupillary Distance’ is an ophthalmic term. It means, quite simply, the distance between your pupils. If you wear glasses, then you may remember the optician putting a strange metal frame on you and rotating some markers on the top of it before you have a pair made. This is how they measure your pupillary distance (hereafter, ‘PD’). The PD is an important measurement, because the curvature of the lens must be centred around your pupil in order for you to […]

The Groin Strike Dilemma

Back when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was in its infancy, there were very few rules. Ex-presidential candidate John McCain actually described it as the human equivalent of a cock fight, and to be fair to him, the lack of rules made for a rather unsavoury spectacle in some cases. One of the most notable cases in question happened in UFC 4, when strikes to the groin were completely legal. It saw Keith Hackney punch Joe Son (in the photo) […]

Are ‘sunk costs’ really sunk?

What are ‘sunk costs’? ‘Sunk cost’ is a term commonly used in economics. It refers to a cost that you or a firm might incur which is irretrievable – you can’t get it back. Suppose you own a large cheese company which has a cheese factory. You want to build an extension to your factory after a bumper year of exotic cheese sales (sorry, it’s lunchtime). If you bought some steel girders for £100,000 to lay some sort of framework […]

World Cup prediction results (and some statistics)

Well, the World Cup has been and gone. Enthralling as always, this time the tournament proved to be more of a tactical battle. Although I felt Germany deserved to win, Spain did manage to stamp their authority and lose their ‘perennial underachiever’ status. Let’s look back at my prior predictions to compare them to what really happened…     1. Team that completely meets expectations Prediction: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) No surprise that I was spot-on here. […]