Random Numbers

Random numbers are extremely hard to generate. But let’s backup.

I started out working as a college student writing statistical computer programs for a medical researcher using an IBM 1130 (a lot like a personal computer but very expensive). $7 an hour in 1966. Yes, random numbers get used in many unexpected areas. Then working for a (nameless) mofia construction company building a weapons factory for the army. Vinnie, my boss, had a blonde daughter who theoretically worked for me but … well you know. No random numbers. But they had this incredible IBM 1130, the biggest 1130 you could buy and a cost-plus contract (we were stealing your tax dollars). One year of business was enough. I went back to statistical programming, mostly Landsat data. On the side, I got to work with lots of Ph.D. students doing their research. The world was beyond interesting … IBM 360/67 (Purdue), IBM 360/95 (NASA), CDC 6600 (Indiana University), CDC 6500 (Purdue). (There were others: Univac 1108, IBM 1620, IBM 1401, IBM 5100, etc.) The most interesting computers on the planet, especially the 360/95 (Even an IBM 360/195 down the street at Columbia). Fortran, COBOL, PL/1 (even CDC PL/1 which never went out of 0.95 beta status), IBM 360 Assembler, CDC Assembler (COMPASS), Univac 1108 Assembler, IBM 5100 Algol, etc. I still have printouts from both the 360/95 and 360/195 computers. I have disk packs from the CDC 6600 and IBM 1130, circuit boards from the CDC 6600 (real transistors), and some core planes including an RCA Spectra. At NASA, I worked for Robert Jastrow (Google him), but mostly I talked to Russians Jews thru an interpreter. We all spoken Fortran. Life was complicated. Random Numbers came to an end when I retired and went to work for Indiana State University as a Systems Programmer. My brain was tired. Manhattan was tiresome.

Btw, the NASA lab is still there. The largest remote sensing lab in the world. It’s above Tom’s, from Seinfeld. Back in my days, it was top secret and heavily guarded. Once inside the nameless door on 112th street, give the password and the guard behind the desk in the small room might let you in the elevator. Just say the password, nothing else. No small talk allowed. They were worried about violent student protests even though we were trying to save the planet. I passed the security check! This was my second gov job!

Link to a larger image.

Google map of Tom’s and NASA Goddard lab in Manhattan.

So, random numbers. I find three kinds of numbers interesting: prime, fractal, and random. Prime number and fractal research is huge. Random not so much. You can now use your smartphone to retrieve a completely random 1 or 0 from a quantum event. But in programming, things are still a little complicated.

After I retired to Indiana State University, l needed a hobby. Back to random numbers. I started generating random number based plots (Calcomp 3-pen plotter). The area with the plotter was next door to the photography area and art area with lots of students painting. The painting instructor noticed one of my plots and asked if he could have one. I was flattered, no one had ever shown an interest. A week later students were painting things that looked a lot like my random number patterns.

And then years passed. The plotter had been retired. Personal computers came along and one day while I was contemplating whether to plan suicide or find something interesting I found my old IBM random number booklet from 1968. Years ago that booklet, along with Walker and Lev, had changed my life. So began my personal computer screensaver I labeled scrsave1968. I had, fortunately, learned the computer language C for some reason. Microsoft Visual Studio to the rescue.

The interest faded and I retired. Tigers took up lots of my time. Then I dug out scrsave1968 and began making changes and feeding the images into a fractal program. I rewrote it as Visual Basic making it easier to change. And the result:
Link to scrsave1968 images.

UUers (again)

I went to a few UU meetings to find out what it was all about and I, sometimes, still look at their web site to see what’s going on. Today’s topic is “Am I a Christian Atheist”.

I wouldn’t even know where to start. But I will anyway.

I look at the faces. All white. No Muslims. No blacks. Just a bunch of white Christians, some of who pretend to be Atheists as some sort of rebellion or something. I’m reminded of the Trump rally mentality. Think about it.

Rock That Swing Festival 2020

Jamboree Ball (Sunday) Performance Vintage Club Students
Jamboree Ball (Sunday) Showcase The Boogie Gang
Jamboree Ball (Sunday) Solo – When He Isn’t Watching – Tanya
Jamboree Ball (Sunday) Teachers’ Jam

Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Balboa Battle Final
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Balboa Improvisation – Irina & Blake
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) CIA Kahlo – Confession Of A Flapper
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Groovie Swing – Tanya & Sondre
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Killer Boogie
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Lindy Hop Improvisation Samantha & Blake
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Lindy Hop – Sharon & Juan
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Shag Competition Finals
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Slow Balboa – Anna-Maria & Mickey
Rock That Swing Ball (Saturday) Social Swing – Irina & Joel

Hep Cats Night (Friday) Balboa & Shag Endurance
Hep Cats Night (Friday) Boogie Woogie Fast Feet Jack’n’Jill Prelims Heat 1
Hep Cats Night (Friday) Boogie Woogie Fast Feet Jack’n’Jill Prelims Heat 2
Hep Cats Night (Friday) Boogie Woogie Jack’n’Jill Finals
Hep Cats Night (Friday) Twist by Rodi Kangelari (The Rolling Foxes) And The Boogie Gang
Hep Cats Night (Friday) Vintage Club Students Performance

In The Mood (Thursday) Shag Jack’n’Jill Finals
In The Mood (Thursday) Shag Jack’n’Jill Prelims
In The Mood (Thursday) Teachers Presentation

Problems In Physics


The true sciences are physics and chemistry. (Physics explains all of chemistry.) Physics has many problems that go back to early in the 20th century. This is about physics problems physicists don’t/won’t talk about and usually refuse to admit as problems.

Quantum Field Theory. This is the theory that drives all of physics except General Relativity (gravity). So what is a field? Standard answer: “You have to know a lot of graduate-level mathematics and even then …” Interpretation: no one has a clue. But it all sounds good. Sort of like asking about consciousness.

Size of an electron. This gets complicated fast.

Answer #1: “For the Electron, the mass and charge is known – that’s all. Electrons exist as point charges with no size.”

Answer #2: “Electrons in quantum mechanics have a wavefunction, as do all quantum objects. This describes the probability distribution of the electron: how likely you are to find it in a particular place with a particular momentum and spin and so on. Critically, quantum mechanics means that the wavefunction isn’t just a description of our lack of knowledge: nothing in the Universe “knows” where the electron is “inside” the wavefunction before one looks for it.” And so on …

Answer #3: “The electron size can be described in three different ways: 1) how its size compares to the proton radius; 2) how its size collates to its classical radius; and 3) how its size relates to the hydrogen atom’s ground radius.

1) 2.103 x 10^-16m or proton radius) / 137.036 = 1.5346 x 10^-18m or size of electron.

2) 2.8179 x 10^-15m or electron classical radius) / 1836.152 = 1.5346 x 10^-18m or size of electron.

3) 2 x (1.321 x 10^-15m or proton Compton wavelength) x (5.2917 x 10^-11m or H-atom ground radius) / 9.1103 x 10^-8m or wavelength of photon with -13.6 eV of energy that is related to the H-atom’s ground state) = 1.5346 x 10^-18m or size of electron.”

Give up?

Electron-positron high energy colliders. Electron and positrons are point particles. Everyone says so. So how do you collide a point with a point? There are an infinite number of points between two points so no matter how narrow you make a beam of point particles there are still an infinite number of paths. So what is the probability of two paths out of an infinite number coming together? Even with the electron having a wave function in two directions, it is still two out of infinity. Think about it.

Synchrotron Radiation. Synchrotron radiation (also known as magnetobremsstrahlung radiation) is the electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles are accelerated radially, e.g., when they are subject to an acceleration perpendicular to their velocity (a ⊥ v). This is why the LHC is underground and no one is in the tunnel when it runs. There is no fully understood theory for this radiation.

Hawking Radiation. Stephen Hawking was a highly regarded theoretical physicist but nothing he ever produced was ever proven. He was famous for traveling with an entourage.

The Twin Paradox.

Double Slit Experiment.

Programming With CSS

I spent my entire career working with computers and programming languages. Few people have used as many programming languages. I don’t miss it. It’s extremely stressful. There is that screen saver program written in C++ I still play with when I’m feeling creative. But now … I got out the CSS books and used CSS to customize my smugmug photography site. I’ll tire of the whole thing in a day or two. But stephendmccloud.photography now looks closer to what I want it to look like.


I’m about to do what I should have done several years ago: break all my ties to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center. The only people I trusted there are now gone and most of the people at EFRC just make things difficult.

EFRC does not have a functioning board of directors. EFRC does not have a five-year plan or any other plan. EFRC is developing a web site that violates every basic principle of web design. EFRC has a director who has no respect for any other human. And most importantly, EFRC has no money in the bank. The director spends money as fast as it comes in.

I see no hope that things will change. When the director dies or goes to a nursing home, EFRC will still be without a functioning board and the plan will still be: “Lets’s See What Happens Tomorrow”.

Indiana University Press did publish three books of my photographs. That made it somewhat worth the trouble. But 30-degree weather, mud, ignorance, and obnoxious Tigers are not something I will miss.

Karl and Choupette

Karl Lagerfeld was the fashion designer who saved Chanel.

Lagerfeld owned a red point Birman cat named Choupette, which, in June 2013, he indicated he would marry if it were legal.

It has emerged that the late fashion designer left some of his $200m (£153m) fortune to Choupette. Since he loved black and white: