### Beavers Win! Beavers Win!

It was the longest minute-18 ever. Caltech had led most of the game only to have the UCSC Banana Slugs roar back to snatch the edge back (despite not having appendages). As nicely summarized on the Caltech sports page:
Cramer scored the last points for Caltech with 1:18 left which gave the home squad a 63-59 edge. Samuel Allen hit one of two at the foul line seven seconds later to bring UC Santa Cruz within three points. During that same sequence, Allen rebounded his second miss at the foul line and his lay-up brought the visitors deficit to one point.
"I'm about to have a heart attack," breathed Erin as we sunk into our seats. It looked like victory was slowly slipping away, aided by UCSC's full-court press, a few lucky bounces, and what seemed like hostile officiating. On the inbound:
A Caltech turnover gave the ball back to UC Santa Cruz with under a minute left. Ryan Matsuoka missed a jumper with 33 seconds left but the Banana Slugs grabbed an offensive rebound. Allen missed a jumper but another offensive rebound set up the conclusion.
Oh man, this was too good! Up by 1, ball out of bounds to the Banana Slugs, 2.6 left on the clock. The crowd stood up and craned their necks to see along the sideline. I grabbed my camera. The noise in Braun Gymnasium was deafening (well, really loud for a Caltech athletic event):
Matsuoka took the inbounds pass with 2.6 seconds left...

The crowd went nuts. I went nuts. Everyone surged forward toward the edge of the court, but the Caltech faithful seemed timid, uncertain. Wait, what do we do when we win?

The Johnsons went to In-N-Out.

The Caltech men's basketball team posted their third consecutive win for the first time since 1994. Much credit goes to Coach Eslinger for leading the first ever recruiting effort. As my research assistant and former Caltech basketball captain recently put it

I knew they would be doing really well this year. This is the 2nd year the program has actively recruited players. When I came to Caltech, there was no recruiting. They just had a link on the athletics page that said "interested in playing for Caltech?" and you'd click on it, and it would take you to a form to fill out. The coach that was there at the time would call you up and talk to you and then you were basically on the team.
Caltech's former losing streaks are legendary. One is the subject of a documentary movie, Quantum Hoops. But keep in mind that the Caltech players take the same high-level, core course load as everyone else on campus including 5 terms of physics (classical mechanics, electromagnetism, waves, quantum mechanics, statistical physics), and 5 terms of math (calculus, ordinary differential equations, and infinite series; linear algebra; vectors and analytic). Yes, the men's basketball team graduates with the same undergraduate physics background as their professors. In fact, I'm sure that some of their physics courses are harder than mine were. This makes the success of the recruiting effort and the recent dominance on the court all the more impressive.

Go Beavers!

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…