Monday, April 4, 2016

Six Degrees of Star Trek

As I mentioned a few months ago, I spent much of last year plowing through Herman Wouk's massive two-volume WWII epic, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. So having finished it, I naturally had to rent the made-for-TV miniseries. Last night, while watching part 3, I noticed that the actor playing Congressman Lacoutre, a rather obnoxious isolationist, looked vaguely familiar... Could it be? Yes, of course it was the actor Logan Ramsey, who reached the pinnacle of his career playing Proconsul Claudius Marcus in the Star Trek episode "Bread and Circuses" (the Roman Empire episode).

Your decision, Proconsul.

This suggests an obvious game: Six Degrees of Star Trek, based on the well-known Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, in which the participants begin with an actor and try to establish a series of co-star links back to Kevin Bacon. Anyone who has appeared in Star Trek has a Star Trek number of 0, while actors who have appeared in other shows with those actors have a Star Trek Number of 1, and so on.

Let's try an example: Patty Duke, who died last week.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fools' Day in Physics

It's April Fools' Day, so as usual, a number of prank papers have blossomed on the physics preprint arXiv -- this year produced a bumper crop.  Here are the ones that I was actually able to identify: