True Science for a Real World

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Potassium Diet

Today I came to an interesting realization...

A few days back, I used to eat like there was no tomorrow, because I truly love eating and I excused myself on the excuse that I made enough exercise to compensate for it. Little did I know that physical activity actually contributes less to weight loss than what you actually put in your mouth... but that's besides the point for this entry.

So, back to the point... I would be at work, totally minding my own business, as usual.

Every now and then my boss would buy pizza for all the team, so that every brain would be fueled without constrain.

Most of the times, all the team would congregate around the pizza and blerch on the delicious cheese and dough delicacy laid in front of us.

Often times this resulted in me eating almost a whole pie by myself, an action that didn't go unnoticed by my peers, yet they just cheered on and further encouraged me to have some more. Sometimes I resisted, sometimes I couldn't... but in the end I would end up returning to my desk and minding my own business.

From time to time one of my peers would give in to temptation and would buy donuts for all the team.

Having such a sweet tooth, I could never EVER resist donuts. There was a time when I would stop doing whatever I was doing and just eat the whole centerless buns, one by one until they were all gone. I soon discovered that I had the ability to eat any number of donuts provided that I had milk in my cup (coffee works too, but I'm not a big coffee drinker).

Only when they all disappeared could I return to my desk...

Once again, I'd excuse myself on the fact that I would be going to do some intense exercise after work, so as long as I countered it I'd be ok.
At some point in life I decided to start dropping the extra weight, and since exercise alone was not getting the job done I consulted a nutritionist who suggested eliminating all carbs from my diet for a few weeks. It might sound easy at first, but most of the food I liked had carbs in it. Pizza and donuts were amongst my most missed items. Nevertheless, the efforts paid off and I dropped a couple of kilograms without any further changes in my routine. Granted, it took me a while to get used to carb-less foods and resisting temptation was the absolute worst part.

After consulting the nutritionist again, I was given some increased flexibility in what I could eat. Now a few carbs were allowed and even encouraged at the beginning of the day. I decided that it'd be a good idea to switch the donut snack for a banana, since the yellow fruit was available for free on my way to the office.

On any given day I would take one or two and would space them out throughout the day. Today I went the extra mile and got the apparently descomunal amount of three (3) bananas. Why? Cause I missed breakfast and I would go exercise by the end of the day, so I needed an extra snack.

My surprise came when I reached my desk and then people would start giving me "expert" advise on how eating 3 bananas is not in my health's best interest.

Naturally, I didn't listen... but the lesson I get from today's experience is that people are fast to applaud your slow self-destruction and will encourage you to push harder towards that vicious goal, whereas I certainly get criticized for eating healthier and trying to gain some 'quality points' back in the mix.

And for the record... bananas turn out not to be a great source of potassium as "everybody knows". Apparently there are over 1,600 foods that are more potassium concentrated than bananas, including beans, parsley, and potatoes. One banana accounts for around 8-12% of the daily recommended intake, and with roughly 23-27g of carbs, I was still at least 2 bananas short of my allowed carb intake, so I was pretty much ok.

You can fact-check me here and here!


Tried to make obvious the brands of the pizza and the donuts:

  • Renaissance Pizza
  • Odyssey Donuts

Both a not too elaborate tribute, but I know it's too difficult to see the detail in such a small drawing.
Naturally, the names of these brands are fictitious.
We do have a community banana stand where people, regardless of whether they work for the Company or not, can stock on yellow deliciousness for free!

Monday, August 29, 2016

What's on the Internetz these days??

Just my feelings as I surf the web during the last few days...

With the full blown success of Pokemon Go, the almost three weeks of consecutive competition events pitting the world's best athletes against each other, and lastly, with the passing away of one of Mexico's most acclaimed singer and songwriter - Juan Gabriel, the Internet fills the void with what the public will unquestionably consume.

Passing from being die hard fans of Pikachu and his friends since their childhood, to being experts on almost every sport there is, to becoming the out-of-the-closet number one fan of the artist that just passed away.

The events in life providing extra volume to the communicating vessels that consumers produce with what we see and want to see on the web, which can be childish as a Pokeball, or morbid as a celebrity's death. Either way, momentum of this happening is just getting started, so I believe I'll be hearing Juan Ga's songs in the background for a while before the next big event swings this train to its new direction.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Infinite Chocolate

Not so long ago, a friend of mine posted a video in which someone would, apparently, continuously over and over again chopped a square of chocolate off a larger rectangular bar. Some ventured even far enough to call it a method for getting an unlimited supply of the precious cocoa-based delicacy.

Alex attempting to repeat the feat he just saw on the Internetz

Nevertheless, to the misfortune of those many who actually tried, the experiment came to be of little or no success in real life. What?! But why?! If it's so damn clear in the video!!


Lavoisier had very accurately stated in the mid 1700s what was his wife's most dreadful nightmare: mass always remains the same. That is, slicing the chocolate and re-arranging its shape does not create more chocolate.

After years of hard work and dedication, Antoine reveals a dreadful conclusion to Marie-Anne
On the same note, my friend qualified the video as magic and asked a former Maths Teacher to provide further explanation on the poorly understood phenomena. The wise Professor, instead of swiftly responding the question, requested his past students to input into the conversation... After some thinking and a lot of chocolate eating, I reached a conclusion and decided to share my view on it.

First, we get a chocolate bar like the one shown in the video (or at least one fairly similar to it). For our purposes, a hypothetical bar of dimensions 4 x 6 will be enough. Let's analyze the area of such bar by splitting as proposed by the video.

Just for fun, let's make sure that the sum of the areas is in fact the total area:

The Math works!! And yeah... I sometimes do this for fun

The next step is then to test the main message of the video; that by moving stuff around we'll get more chocolate. Piece B is moved to where A and C were, and it is supposed that the total chocolate remains the same after taking away C. Therefore, the author claims that the first column of B has the same area as A and C. We are going to test this hypothesis and find whether it's true or not.... SPOILER ALERT: it's not.

Let B' be the first column of B, then B' = A + C or is it??

How do we test this? As we did in the past, checking for the surface of the individual parts. By doing this, we can easily tell that the hypothesis was wrong (duh!)

The null hypothesis is rejected and we keep the alternative statement: B' does not equal A + C

However, Alex is still not quite convinced. After all he really wanted some more chocolate, and who's to blame him? As a matter of fact, if you perform the steps shown in the video you will get a similar piece of chocolate as the starting one, but a little bit smaller. How smaller you ask? Well, one square out divided by four squares on the base, the total height of the bar went down by 1/4, thus making a brand new bar of dimensions 4 x 5.75 which, to the naked eye might look pretty much the same.

Arrrggghhhh... So close!

And even if you were stubborn enough to try again and go for a second iteration on the process shown in the video, you well then find the truth right away. There will be a difference in the height of the chocolate bar. This is because the 3rd row took all the 0.25 height reduction and those squares are not squares any more!

And what's even more evident now is that the 3rd row is quite compact... having taken a second hit on its height.

After yet another bar of chocolate, all these experiments led just to more questions: if you fuse the chocolate after the first iteration, could you repeat the whole process again? The answer is yes, but still no infinite chocolate. You'll just be trimming the bar and getting a smaller chocolate bar on every iteration:

How smaller will it become after each iteration? How many iterations can you do? What's the area after n iterations?

The area of the chocolate after n iterations is given by

For example, when you start the area of the original chocolate is 24

After removing the first square, then it would be

The height of the chocolate after iteration n is 

The area of each square after iteration n, which by the way is the same as its height since its base is always one unit (hence a small rectangle; not a square), is

The former number is physically possible as long as it is larger than a number x such that x is the minimum or tiniest particle of chocolate, which occurs if the number of iteration n is such that

Let's say that the chocolate is mainly glucose, then x is the diameter of a molecule of glucose
x = 1.5nm

First let us agree on the units of the chocolate measures... say cm; a chocolate bar of 24cm^2 sounds decent. So: 

We can iterate around 370 times. At this point the area would be of close to 0.00000347817 cm^2 and we would definitely notice that it is not the same as the original (naturally), plus each and every piece sliced away constitute the original bar, while each and every piece is different from each other.

Regardless of how we look at it, Lavoisier was and still is right.

Special thanks: 
To Gabs, for teaching me how to curse in French.
To Horace, for supplying heavy math stuff.
To Alex, for raising the question.
To Jose Manuel, for teaching me maths during High School.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Invisible Slap

A friend of mine was recently disappointed due to the ridiculously low offer made by a potential boss to start a new job. As most people who feel disappointed towards the salary, she felt she was overqualified, having tons of experience, the right background from prestigious universities for both undergrad and Master's degrees, all the confidence and the adhoc personality.

Anna shows off her more than impressive background

It was just obvious that she passed the hiring bar by a wide margin, but ultimately was slapped by Adam Smith's invisible hand right in the face when she was extended an offer.

Adam Smith's invisible hand slaps Anna in the face

Supply and demand is quite often misunderstood principle of Economics. It has extensive application on real life!!

It works like this: an employer has a vacant position and offers a given amount of pay as salary. The market has at the same time potential employees or people who seek employment. These candidates reach out to the employer and if they meet the expectations they are extended an offer, in which case they can accept it or not.

IF the candidate accepts an offer, the employer is happy that he filled the outstanding position and understands that if another similar position opens up in the future it is ok to make a similar offer or perhaps even decrease it a little bit. Who knows? Maybe he offered too much and that's the reason why the candidate took the position in the first place.

IF the candidate rejects the offer, the employer scratches his head in confusion and determines that maybe the candidate wasn't happy about the offer, hence he decides to increase the benefits of coming to work in this position. Whether it is by increasing the base salary, bonus rewards, relocation aids, stock options, more vacation time, dental plan, corporate car or whatever, the punchline is that the employer will try to make the offer more appealing to future candidates.

Naturally, there are many companies with many outstanding job offers and many people seeking job opportunities everywhere, thus making this cycle extremely dynamic and so it's difficult to determine who has the upper hand on the mechanics of this game:

If there are many people out there who can perform the job and are willing to take the pay level, then it's tough luck for you; the employer will just hire the next guy who's willing to take the offer.

A candidate with less experience and qualifications is likely to accept a less rewarding job

Highly demanding candidates will be sent to the shark pit regardless of their qualifications in excess of the hiring bar

In contrast, if the skill set requested to perform on the job is quite particular such that you stand out as one of the few who can do it, then that's the time to get cocky and ask for a big fat signing bonus, third-world-politician-like salary* and a bigger office.

When the qualified candidates are few and far in between, the employer will expand the offer to unimaginable extents

To sum up, while it is true that you could alter the offer in your benefit by convincing all the other applicants to reject it, it's nearly impossible to get that ninja guy** to reject an offer, especially if full of debt. It's a stalemate. The next time you're made a job offer do your due diligence in advance. Know what's the market average for similar positions in similar companies and use this knowledge to make a better assessment of your choices.

*This means very, very high. Usually associated to an insanely high pay per actual work ratio
**No Income No Job or Assets 

Some resources and further reading:

  1. Shake the Invisible Hand
  2. Learn the ABC of Economics
  3. Dive deep!


  • The characters appearing in this work are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons, living or death, is purely coincidental... not!
  • Obviously, I don't own the shark image.
  • I don´t know how to draw sharks (or anything else for that matter).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Newton's Third Law of Motion for the Real World

The first thing that pops into mind when you think about Newton's Laws is "aha! Action and reaction" and curiously enough, that's a great overview of the last out of three laws of motion.

The Director sets the Actors in motion - Action & Reaction.
Perhaps the real mystery is what was I thinking of the crossover of Gandalf and Harry Potter?! 

Another way to put it plain and simple is to say that this is the karma law of physics; if you do something, something will happen to you.

We already saw while studying Isaac's Second Law that if you do something with little force, something little will happen in return. Also, that if the trend of the system is not to react (let's call it inertia, heaviness or the state of not wanting to change) will also affect the results of your actions.

So, we shall state that:
If you do something, something is going to happen to you.
This might sound a little bit like a threat... and it is.

How does it work then?? Doing something in particular will generate a reaction. For instance the office worker who is abruptly procrastinating, is not moving at all, hence no actions are taking place, therefore no reactions will occur. However, when his boss walks in [action] he immediately starts typing keys and moving his computer's mouse all around [reaction].

The Law of Action and Reaction states that forces come always in pairs and are equivalent in magnitude, but opposite in direction... WHAT?!

That means that the larger the action, the larger the reaction will be.

Back to the example: employee wondering around, just doing nothing...
[action] The janitor steps in to clean the waste paper basket... 
[reaction] Then the bureaucrat leans slightly over his monitor to pretend he is crunching numbers in his mind.
In this case, the presence of the janitor didn't cause great of a strain in the worker; the reaction was weak.

Different scenario:
[action] The boss's assistant walks in.
[reaction] This time, knowing the influence of this character, the bureaucrat picks up the phone, dials the supplier he just talked to an hour ago and talks nonsense for as long as the assistant is around. This time the action was stronger, as a consequence the reaction was too.

Yet another scenario:
[action] The CEO walks in.
[reaction] The employee instantly opens his workbook, dials the next supplier to arrange a meeting with while at the same time manages to write an email to his peers on the Supply Chain Management Division  with the information they requested a week ago...

Action & Reaction illustrated!
The janitor  makes no big action and therefore playing busy is the corresponding reaction.
When the C-Level walks in, the Supply Chain Management division gets a headache...

In a few words: action and reaction.

Further reading:
About Sir Isaac Newton
More about Newton
Even more about him
On the Third Law

Newton's Laws of Motion for the Real World:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Simpsons... traducciones... y el Teorema de Pitágoras....

By Horacio González Duhart

Estaba, cómo acostumbro, leyendo las tonterías que escriben todos en Facebook, cuando repentinamente me encontré con el post del Xocho que dice textualmente:

"la suma de las raíces cuadradas de dos lados de un triángulo isósceles es igual a la raíz cuadrada del lado restante"

Con tres pesos de trigonometría, esto suena, ¡qué digo suena, apesta! al famosísimo teorema de Pitágoras. Sin embargo, no lo es.
Con un poco más de coco (ya no 3 pesos, porque la educación cuesta mucho dinero, y eso es tema aparte) el impulso natural es decir: ¡Está mal!, el Teorema de Pitágoras es:

La suma de los cuadrados de los catetos de un triángulo rectángulo es igual al cuadrado de la hipotenusa.

Me parece que es un poco técnico el lenguaje empleado en esa descripción, quizá fuera más fácil decir:

La suma de los cuadrados de los lados más cortos de un triángulo rectángulo es igual al cuadrado del lado restante (que es el más grande).

La importancia, y el significado de este teorema no me es relevante en este momento, creo que puedo escribir páginas completas sobre esto si me lo propusiera, pero lo que me llama la atención es el siguiente post que uno de los amigos del Xocho hizo notar, después de mi aseveración sobre el post original en la que digo que la frase es falsa y encontré los únicos casos en los que de hecho es verdadera (pero eso es tema aparte):

"Xocho, deja de llevarte con tanto ignorante de los Simpson que destruye las citas de Homero. :D" 

¡Entonces fue cuando recapacité!... debí haber pensado como regularmente lo hago cuando leo posts de facebook... que estoy leyendo puras tonterías... y me di a la tarea de encontrar este video:

¡que es justamente la frase original que había puesto el Xocho! Para rematar, alguien corrige diciendo que debería ser el equilátero, cosa que en general tampoco es cierta (y que también encontré los únicos casos en los que es verdad).

En este momento me dije, ¿si la idea es que Homero diga una tontería, porque no al menos corregirlo de manera correcta? ¿Porqué la traducción no dice el teorema real? Pero vean la versión española:

¡Sorpresa! ¡Sí es el teorema correcto!... ¿Qué sucede aquí? ¿Porqué los españoles tienen derecho a escuchar un chiste basado en la verdad y los mexicanos escuchan y aprenden un chiste basado en la ignorancia? La ignorancia de todos, de los niños que ven el programa, de los traductores que doblaron la serie, ¿de los originales?

Los originales sí hablan del teorema original, sin embargo, fallan en un sutil tecnicismo, Homero dice "of any two sides", no es cierto, tiene que tomar los más chicos.

Pero bueno, de por sí los chistes de matemáticas no son muy bien recibidos por el público en general... luego los traducen mal... 

No sé cuál es el punto de todo esto, pero bueno, si alguna moraleja se puede sacar de esto es que sí, sí aprendimos cosas de los Simpsons, desgraciadamente no todo es verdad, así que la próxima vez que ocupen una cita de los Simpson, primero habrá que verificar que por lo menos la Wikipedia esté de acuerdo.

PS: Los Caballeros del Zodiaco son mucha más confianza en cuestiones técnicas... 

Horacio González Duhart is an honorary member of the True Science for the Real World Blog Team. He is currently finishing his dissertation for his Graduate MSc Degree in Modern Applications of Mathematics at the University of Bath. He is one of very few people who actually applies whatever he learns at school (or everywhere else) to real life; being capable even of writing this sort of thing...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I survived...

It turns out that according to this guy, the world is coming to an end today. Still, he doesn't specifies at what time, and if he does, is it GMT-6??

While this is an unlikely event, the things that are certain to happen are that some smart guys will take advantage of this and will profit upon the less incredulous. For instance, there is a group of atheists who hit the jackpot by selling insurance for pets of the Christian kind. It turns out that someone has to take care of your pets once God has taken your soul next to him. Well, this can be done... for $135 USD, that is!

Take a look here!

In the mean time, I better get these shirts ready. Perhaps I can still board the profit-on-the-believers boat.

I survived the End of the World!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wasps on a Plane!

Have you ever imagined what movie villains could had actually achieved, had they hired a subject matter expert -before venturing into a seemingly-nonsense plan of evil??

Wasps on a Plane!

For real! Snakes average 5.5 kills a year, while wasps, hornets and bees go almost eightfold. Scared of snakes? Nah, they represent a minuscule 3.51% of all animal attacks. Flying buzzy insects we should be more careful of, boasting a 28.0% of the attacks.

I guess it's the movies we should blame for this misconception and almost unquestionable adage that some poor misunderstood creatures are evil. For instance: spiders, sharks and, of course, snakes.

Naturally, these creatures can be scary as hell and perfect assassins, but it is only in their nature. Better keep your distance. I'll just keep my bug net catcher handy, just in case...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Newton's First Law of Motion for the Real World

Many would think that the boring lessons of a first course in Physics would never have anything to do with real life. Perhaps you too, were one of the students sitting in the last row of the classroom, annoyingly saying things like "I'm never going to use this in real life, so why should I learn it now??" and right afterwards continue the hard labor of throwing a paper plane to tease the nerd sitting at the front row.

Paper-Plane Toss 101

Well, if that was your appreciation back then, read on...
I'm not going to state the Laws of Newton just as Sir Isaac did in his Principia, however if you must know, then read the Further Reading section. In the mean time, the First Law of Motion states in plain, understandable English:
If a thing is not moving and no one touches it, it won't move. In the same way, if a thing is moving and no one messes with it, it will continue to move.
So stop jerking about your lost keys... If no one touched them, they're in the very same placed you left them.

Where are the keys? Where are the keys? Where are the $@%& keys?

But let's go a step further and try to see the magic of this in a contemporary environment: at the office!

So, if Newton was right and I interpreted him correctly, any procrastinating employee will continue to procrastinate unless an external factor is applied to him, say for instance:

1. The boss
2. Lunch time
3. His peers
4. Incoming critical work load

The state which now the employee adopts is no longer procrastination (not moving), since it has been affected by an external agent, now he is pretending to work, having lunch, talking about yesterday's Football match or actually working (moving).
In the same way, this employee will stay in that state (of moving) until again another external factor interrupts it. Say:

1. The boss walks away
2. Lunch time is over
3. Everyone agrees Manchester United kicks ass
4. Work is done

Procrastination Map

To sum up, you're all under Newton's scope and there's but a few things to do about it, enjoying it, being the best among the alternatives.

Further reading:

Newton's Laws of Motion for the Real World: