Sonntag, 14. März 2010

Writing systems and non-linearity

Some time ago I posted some links, one of them pointing to a non-linear, graph like writing system called Ouwi; meanwhile I spent some time reading up on the topic of writing systems and have some more pointers:

Pinuyo is a pictorial language which indicates grammatical function of the ideograms by placement and surrounding symbols.

I also found a long, but sometimes deviating thread on 2-dimensional writing systems on the conlang mailing list archive. Unfortunatelly many of the links are now dead, the thread is from 2005.

Omniglot is a nice website about alphabets, writing systems and languages. It contains some constructed systems, like block script, a sylabic alphabet for the english language which combines letters to blocks (like the korean script for example). Most of them are linear ones.

I'm still wondering if there are some languages/alphabets optimized for reading speed. Most are either evolved, natural languages, which certainly are a compromise between reading and writing and the constructed ones optimized for speed like the morse code or shorthand.

In an edit, let me just add a few more links, somewhat related:

Láadan, a feminist language designed for countering male-centering of natural languages.
The gripping language, not spoken but transmitted by touching of the hands.

Dienstag, 2. März 2010

Random Numbers and Certified Randomness

A rather recent edition of the ACM TechNews contained a short report/link on a German team which developed a hardware random number generator [1], that

uses an extra layer of randomness by making a computer memory element, a flip-flop, twitch randomly between its two states 1 or 0. Immediately prior to the switch, the flip-flop is in a "metastable state" where its behaviour cannot be predicted. At the end of the metastable state, the contents of the memory are purely random.

Whereas this device gives me more security, it does not solve the problem of someone sending me supposedly "random numbers" which he might have prepared in advance to even pass statistical tests. A neat solution is provided by quantum mechanics which allows to check randomness of numbers via the violation of the Bell inequality [2] using entangled states.

[1] "A meta-level true random number generator" in Int. J. Critical Computer-Based Systems, 2010, 1, 267-279

[2] Random Numbers Certified by Bell's Theorem

Enthusiasm for Science

I just wanted to point out to a project called 'the symphony of science', available at

It consists of a series of music videos, aiming to

"bring scientific knowledge and philosophy to the public, in a novel way, through the medium of music. Science and music are two passions of mine that I aim to combine in a way that is intended to bring a meaningful message to listeners, while simultaneously providing an enjoyable musical experience."
I embed only one of those here:

I really like what the project is aiming for. In my opinion, there is a severe lack of easy accessible material for the general public regarding all fields of science. Publishing in journals and proceedings is good, but doesn't help the non-scientific population at all. Unfortunatelly, writing popular science books isnt' valued in the scientific community at all.