Archive for the literature Category

Roots (disambiguation)

Posted in culture, film, Food, history, literature, maths, music, science with tags , , , , , on July 23, 2008 by Philonous

In Euclidean Space:

Let V be a finite-dimensional Euclidean space, with the standard Euclidean inner product denoted by . A root system in V is a finite set Φ of non-zero vectors (called roots) that satisfy the following properties:

  1. The roots span V.
  2. The only scalar multiples of a root α ∈ Φ that belong to Φ are α itself and −α.
  3. For every root α ∈ Φ, the set Φ is closed under reflection through the hyperplane perpendicular to α. That is, for any two roots α and β, the set Φ contains the reflection of β in the plane perpendicular to α.
  4. (Integrality condition) If α and β are roots in Φ, then the projection of β onto the line through α is a half-integral multiple of α.

In view of property 3, the integrality condition is equivalent to stating that β and its reflection σα(β) differ by an integer multiple of α.

The rank of a root system is the dimension of the Euclidean space V in which it resides. Here are examples of rank 2 systems.

In the Plant Kingdom:

In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant body that typically lies below the surface of the soil. But, this is not always the case, since a root can also be aerial (that is, growing above the ground) or aerating (that is, growing up above the ground or especially above water). On the other hand, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either (see rhizome). So, it is better to define root as a part of a plant body that bears no leaves, and therefore also lacks nodes. There are also important internal structural differences between stems and roots. The two major functions of roots are 1.) absorption of water and inorganic nutrients and 2.) anchoring the plant body to the ground. Roots also function in cytokinin synthesis, which supplies some of the shoot’s needs. They often function in storage of food. The roots of most vascular plant species enter into symbiosis with certain fungi to form mycorrhizas, and a large range of other organisms including bacteria also closely associate with roots.

On TV:

Roots is a 1977 American television miniseries based on Alex Haley‘s work Roots: The Saga of an American Family, his critically acclaimed but factually disputed genealogical novel.

Roots was made into a hugely popular television miniseries that aired over eight consecutive nights in January 1977. Many people partially attribute the success of the miniseries to the original score by Quincy Jones. ABC network television executives chose to “dump” the series into a string of airings rather than space out the broadcasts, because they were uncertain how the public would respond to the controversial, racially-charged themes of the show. However, the series garnered enormous ratings and became an overnight sensation. Approximately 130 million Americans tuned in at some time during the eight broadcasts. The concluding episode was rated as the third most watched telecast of all time by the Nielsen corporation.
The cast of the miniseries included LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte, Leslie Uggams as Kizzy and Ben Vereen as Chicken George. A 14-hour sequel, Roots: The Next Generations, aired in 1979, featuring the leading African-American actors of the day. In 1988, a two-hour made-for-TV movie, Roots: The Gift, aired. Based on characters from the book, it starred LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte, Avery Brooks as Cletus Moyer and Kate Mulgrew as Hattie, the female leader of a group of slave catchers.

In the Charts:

Roots is the sixth studio album by Brazilian thrash metal band Sepultura, released in 1996 through Roadrunner Records. It was the band’s last album to feature Max Cavalera. The majority of the themes presented on Roots are centered on Brazilian politics and culture.

The inspiration for Sepultura’s new musical directon was two-fold. One was the desire to further experiment with the music of Brazil, especially the percussive type played by Salvador, Bahia samba reggae group Olodum. A slight influence of Northeastern Brazil‘s native music is also present in the guitar riffs, especially baião and capoeira music. Another innovation Roots brought was the inspiration taken from the (then) cutting-edge nu metal sound of the Deftones and KoЯn – especially the latter’s debut, with it’s heavily down-tuned guitars.

Roots was released in February 1996 and received with unprecedented enthusiasm. Even the popular press, that usually doesn’t pay a lot of attention to metal records, halted the presses to appreciate the unusual rhythms mixture of Sepultura. American newspapers like The New Times, the Daily News[disambiguation needed] and the Los Angeles Times reserved some space for the Brazilian band: “The mixture of the dense metal of Sepultura and the Brazilian music has a intoxicating effect”, wrote a Los Angeles Times’ reviewer. The Daily News went even further: “Sepultura reinvented the wheel. By mixing metal with native instruments, the band resuscitates the tired genre, reminding of Led Zeppelin times. But while Zeppelin mixed English metal with African beats, it’s still more moving to hear a band that uses elements of its own country. By extracting the sounds of the past, Sepultura determines the future direction of metal”.

Acknowledgements: This post would not have been possible without the untiring effort of all of those kind folk at Wikipedia who are up at all hours of the day and night writing entries.

I’d also like to thank they keys Ctrl, C and V


Posted in literature on November 14, 2007 by Philonous

The other night I went to see Six Characters in Search of an Author. It’s a good play I think. To be honest, the production at the Lowry for which I had tickets failed to impress somewhat. The vast majority of the cast seemed to have come prepared for a pantomime rather than a radical existentialist romp.

The story follows a family of six who were created by some author who didn’t bother finishing the project. They are left in a sort of limbo of neither being seen by anyone else nor being entirely non-existent. As a result, they barge into a rehearsal for some play or other and demand that their story be told. I think it could be a very powerful drama but alas, such power was lacking from this performance. Could be an interesing thing to watch though.

In other news: String theory is cool.

Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849)

Posted in history, literature with tags on July 30, 2006 by Philonous

My attention was drawn to this most macabre of poets by a programme in the series on poetry societies on Radio 4. He seems to have led a rather colourful life, being born in Bristol in 1803 into the relatively well off family of Dr Thomas Beddoes, a famous physician. The origins of his taste for the gothic may be traced to a fascination with the dissections performed in the house in the name of scientific enquiry. His early years are characterized by intelligence and a flair for the literary accompanied by disruptiveness and rebelliousness. Having studied at Pembroke College Oxford, writing plays and poetry while he was there, Beddoes was on the brink of a successful literary career as a romantic poet when he left for Germany. Some cite a homosexual’s desire for anonymity as his reason for leaving, but this remains an open question.
In Germany, his literary studies were replaced by anatomy and medicine. His involvement in radical politics, drunken and disorderly behaviour and general troublemaking caused his being expelled from various universities and states. On his travels, he continued his writing however and produced his celebrated work “Death’s Jest-book”.

His life had always been plagued by intermittent bouts of alcoholism and depression. In 1848, such an occasion resulted in an attempted suicide in which Beddoes cut open his own femoral artery with a dissecting scalpel. The wound was in fact not fatal, but led to the amputation of his leg, variously attributed by him in letters to his family as the result of a riding injury and accidental injury sustained during a dissection. The following year, he finally ended his life once and for all, taking poison and pinning the following characteristically black and eccentric suicide note (to his solicitor in London) to his jacket.

My Dear Phillips
I am food for what I am good for -– worms. I have made a will here which I
desire to be respected – – and add the donation of ₤20 to Dr Ecklin my physician -–
W. Beddoes must have a case (50 bottles -– ) of Champagne Moet 1847 growth to drink my health in
Thanks for all kindnesses Borrow the ₤200 You are a good & noble man & your children must look sharp to be like you.
Yours if my own, ever, T. L B
Love to Anna Henry -– the Beddoes of Longvill and Zoe & Emmeline
King -– also to Kelsall whom I beg to look at my MSS and print or not as he thinks fit.
I ought to have been among other things a good poet; Life was too great a bore on one peg & that a bad one. -–
Buy for Dr Ecklin above mentioned Reade’s best stomach-pump

His poetical works have mustered an underground following for many years, but only recently was he embraced by the literary pantheon as a romantic poet. Tim Burton lists Beddoes among his influences and a cursory glance at both of their repsective work makes clear the influence.
Related Links: A set of links to his various works and biographies –