Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

27 September, 2014


Mike Sterling shows his musical instrument invention, the 'Bernoulli', to Eli and Dalia Maor
I like interesting people, especially those who think outside (or beyond) the box...The inventive and creative Mike Sterling of Southampton is one of those guys!

Most mathematical and musical heroes for Mike are lost in the annals of history, except for one, Eli Maor, a historian of mathematics, the author of several books on the subject and an in-demand lecturer and speaker. With a PhD from the Israel Institute of Technology, he teaches the history of mathematics at Loyola University of Chicago and was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica article on trigonometry, as well as being a contributor to the esteemed publication.

Mike was anxious to exchange notes with the man whose thesis for his PhD, based on using mathematics to solve musical acoustic problems, reflected his own intense interest in the relationship between science and arts, particularly music.

Maor's article, "What is There so Mathematical about Music" received the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics award for being the best article on teaching the applications of mathematics. He and his wife, Dalia, who is an engineer, also have a fascination with astronomy and have traveled the world chasing eclipses, as members of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Mike first learned of Maor some 10 years ago upon reading his book, "The Story of a Number". After several attempts to contact Maor, it was not until this year, 2014, that he succeeded. Sterling had been working on a musical instrument based on mathematics and sent an outline of his project to Maor who immediately became intrigued.  Mike's persistence had paid off.

"I receive many messages through my printing firm, Princeton University Press," said Maor, "but Mike's message and what he was doing definitely drew my attention."
Mike Sterling and Eli Maor discuss the mathematical
intricacies of another potential instrument that Sterling
is creating called "The Bernoulli Involute"
So intrigued was Maor, that he and his wife drove from their home in Chicago to Southampton to meet Mike and see first-hand his ingenious mathematical musical invention and some of his other brilliant contributions to the local museum where Sterling had his unique 'Bernoulli' instrument set up for the Maors, in addition to mathematical graphics set to music that he has designed.

Both the Maors were inquisitive about their surroundings and, although only spending one day in Southampton, took advantage of their time in the community to tour the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, the Bruce Power Visitors' Centre, the boardwalk on the beach and the Saugeen First Nation Amphitheatre dry-stone wall project.

"It dawned on me", Mike said, "that Eli saw what others do not see. He sees beneath the surface and knows the relationship of objects one to another and he sees the world as a wonder.  The world is written about best in terms of mathematics. Words bind the hidden concepts by the mathematics that embody them,  It's a way of thinking and expressing oneself with precision. Eli, does just that.

His world view is vibrant and different from ours. It's like he has x-ray vision of a special type. He sees through the haze of reality into the essence. "

"We will definitely be returning to Southampton when we have a chance," said Maor. "It is a beautiful place with so many interesting features. The museum is amazing and we would like to spend an entire day there."

It goes without saying that they would also like to spend some more time with Mike Sterling...He'd no doubt have another invention to show them on their next visit.

I would explain a little more about the Mike's "Bernoulli" musical instrument, but it is beyond my comprehension -- as is the guy who invented it. Maybe I'll get him to write something about it for me, in dumbed-down terms that mere mortals can understand.

Where did Mike get the name "Bermoulli" for his instrument? What I can tell you is that Daniel Bernoulli FRS (/bərˈnli/; Swiss [bɛʁˈnʊli];[1] 8 February 1700 – 17 March 1782) was a Swiss mathematician and physicist and was one of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family. He is particularly remembered for his applications of mathematics to mechanics, especially fluid mechanics, and for his pioneering work in probability and statistics. His name is commemorated in the Bernoulli principle, a particular example of the conservation of energy, which describes the mathematics of the mechanism underlying the operation of two important technologies of the 20th century: the carburetor and the airplane wing.

Mike Sterling explains how he crafted the replica cannons on the deck 
of the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre's H.M.S. General 
Hunter British war ship commemorating the War of 1812.

And another interesting project...The Helix

A giant 15-foot-high helix made from the anchor chain of an 1866 schooner rises majestically on an outdoor alcove at the new Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre in Southampton.

This unique double-helix sculpture, named The Renewal, is another brainchild of Mike Sterling, one of many volunteers from the Southampton Propeller Club who value and honour the marine heritage along the Lake Huron and Georgian Bay coasts.

The chain was originally salvaged along the Lake Huron shoreline near MacGregor Point. It came from the 120-foot schooner, AZOV, which sprang a leak on October 12, 1911. The captain and crew abandoned ship and the schooner drifted across Lake Huron as a ghost ship, finally coming aground at MacGregor Point, just south of neighbouring Port Elgin.
Mike explains towering helix to museum vistors.

The sculpture has two helical strands winding 270 degrees from base to top and measuring 19 feet each. The links of the chain are huge, each measuring seven inches long by five inches wide with a girth of 1.5 inches. Total weight of the chain is 800 pounds.

“The shape is beautiful and can be seen for just that, without knowing the background or the inner meaning,” says Sterling, who, along with Giles Roy, worked on a full-scale wood model to establish the proper sight lines. To both men, the inner meaning of the sculpture is a fitting symbol of everything they value about Bruce County life.

The creative beginning of the anchor chain helix has its roots firmly embedded in Sterling’s life as a mathematician, studying shapes and the mathematics of producing them. He reaches his third floor study in Southampton by climbing a helical staircase. At the top, pictures of renowned scientists Albert Einstein and Dr. James D. Watson are linked with a small length of chain to depict the connection between these two men and their epic findings.

Sterling and Giles believe the “inner meaning” of the AZOV helix is many things.

It’s a symbol of renewal through all of Bruce County as well as the newly expanded and enriched museum. It also depicts “our tight connection with Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, which are at the core of our love for the area.”

“An anchor chain is on the seam of safety and danger, and helps us visualize our ancestors who braved the harsh waters and environment. The chain of life was sometimes held together by a blacksmith’s art.”

See what I mean about this guy and his ability to think beyond the scope of the average person?

Mike Sterling was given the Canadian Museums Association & Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums Award for 2012.

25 September, 2014


Actress Emma Watson Gives The Most Powerful UN Speech...“Feminists Are Not Man-Haters”

Actress Emma Watson recently made a powerful speech to the United Nations on gender, which has sent waves across the world. The 24-year-old “Harry Potter girl” and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, launched HeForShe Campaign, a U.N. Movement for Gender Equality, last weekend in New York.

It was hoped she could be used to stop violence against women and help fight the fight for gender equality. In her presentation, a very poised Emma regretted the fact that women today are choosing not to identify as feminists. "If you hate the word "feminist", it is not the word that is important, it is the idea and ambition behind it," she stressed.

She also emphasized that gender equality is a male issue too, but I cannot do justice to her 11- minute talk in a brief summary of her remarks in this post. Instead you are invited to click on the attached video which captures the essence of her very carefully worded and poignant presentation. Personally, I truly believe it is time for all genders to be treated equally and we can learn a lot by listening to this beautiful young woman's words. It may even change your mind about feminism in today's world.

21 September, 2014


“Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can. This does not mean aping extroverts; ideas can be shared quietly, they can be communicated in writing, they can be packaged into highly produced lectures, they can be advanced by allies. The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.” -  Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

Don't get me wrong, by no means am I putting myself in the aforementioned company, but I do not mind admitting that I am a born and bred introvert -- so is one of my grandsons. Some acorns do not fall far from the tree.  Because I have lived introversion, and the awkwardness that often goes along with it, I have worried about the wasted and brilliant potential of a 23-year-old young man in a society today that honours extroversion.

You can imagine then, my delight in being introduced to the refreshing views of another self-admitted introvert, Susan Cain.

In her best-selling book "Quiet", Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions.

The book was written as a passionate and provocative defense of those who are negatively labeled as "introverts".  She begins by reminding her reader that having an extroverted personality is more highly valued by our culture. Little Brennan and Brianna are encouraged to be more outgoing; shyness is seen as a social liability. Most classrooms reflect that goal. Where we once sat in straight rows and spoke only to answer a question, today's children work in groups which are designed not only for learning goals but also to promote social skills.

Corporations increasingly seek out prospective employees who possess the requisite "piece of paper" but also can demonstrate so-called people skills.

Cain writes to reassure the introverts among us (and who comprise at least 35% of our population). She reminds the reader that Carl Jung described how introverts gravitate to the world of thoughts and feelings while extroverts enjoy people and activity. While extroverts recharge their batteries by socializing, introverts renew their energy by spending quiet time alone. She argues that both personality types fulfill useful roles in society.

The recent PBS series on the Roosevelt family highlighted these differences. Franklin was outgoing and thrived on the life of a politician, capturing a crowd by the sheer force of his magnetic personality. Eleanor, his wife, was the polar opposite; a quiet, caring, deeply thoughtful woman who led by utilizing these relational skills and slowly built a consensus to achieve her goals of social change.

The author distinguishes shyness from introversion: the former is a "... fear of social disapproval or humiliation". The latter simply prefers a quiet environment. In fact, the trend toward open office spaces and collaborative problem-solving in the workplace can thwart the creativity impulse in that quieter employee who simply prefers to do his or her thinking alone.

Cain notes a variety of psychological research which determines that introverts are more sensitive, show greater empathy, make better listeners and possess stronger consciences.

“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions -- sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments -- both physical and emotional -- unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss -- another person's shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly.”
Susan Cain

Like a respected acquaintance who has also written on this subject, I clearly saw myself in Cain's book at the point where she describes how introverts have an aversion to "small talk", preferring the intimacy of one-to-one conversations. For that reason I don't seem to do well at large social gatherings. We prefer to relate rather than socialize. Ironically, some of us can do well in public speaking, simply because, unlike spontaneous small talk, our role in communicating through a speech (or sermon) is clearly defined. We deliver well-thought-out messages to captive audiences that do not talk back and there is a degree of safety in that knowledge.

Cain adds, however, that introverts can "pretend" to act like extroverts when required. We can manage in large social gatherings or work effectively in committees. The difference is that such activities, while stimulating and energizing the extrovert, will more quickly become exhausting (irritating) for people like my grandson and I. She also reminds us that few personalities are found at either extreme end of the continuum; most people demonstrate some combination of both introversion and extroversion.

Susan Cain is not only helping the rest of the world to better understand that the quiet minority of us are not simply anti-social or lacking in ideas, but she is also reassuring her fellow introverts that we do have a place in the world after all...And we do have a contribution to make when we have the courage of our convictions.

Personally, I am most comfortable when expressing my convictions by means of the written word, in solitude.  I am not all that spontaneous and glib when resorting to oral communications in public settings. I hesitate to methodically edit myself when speaking and sense that I frequently lose the attention of my listeners in the process.  Suffice to say, introverts are generally self-conscious.  Without  the ability to write as an outlet for creativity and self-expression, I would be extremely frustrated and depressed...Unfulfilled.

I pray that my grandson appreciates this and understands that there very definitely is a role for him in society, once he finds freedom in the restrictions of his solitude...And learns to pretend a little by selectively stepping outside of his insular comfort zone (a favourite technique of mine) when the occasion calls for it.  Sometimes we have to compromise ourselves just to get ahead in the world.  The key is to not completely abandon, or lose, our real selves in the process.

"To thine own self be true," I always say; with one very important qualification: "Do not allow your true introverted self to become an excuse for backwardness, or laziness, in personal growth.  Nurture that introvert within you...He/she is your best friend!

02 September, 2014


We sometimes hear a person in weak health say to another, "I always feel better when you come to see me (or get in touch)!"

There is a deep scientific reason underlying that statement.  The power of suggestion so far as the human mind is concerned is a most wonderful and interesting field of study.

One of the world's most noted scientists once proved through laboratory experiments that the entire human structure can be completely changed, made over, within a short period of time, suggesting that the accepted method involving the application of drugs, medicines and external agencies was an artificial cure.

The late Dr. Jack Ruttle of Dresden, who practiced in the days when doctors made house calls, used to say that many times he did not have to dispense "pills" because all that many of his patients really needed was a visit from him. "They just seemed to feel better even before I left their home," he explained.

I suggest that Dr. Ruttle carried with him the spirit of health.  He brought into the home a friendly, almost family-like disposition that implanted hope in the minds of the patients he visited. He cared and that in itself was sufficient medicine in many cases.

In reality, the only thing that any drug or medicine can do is to remove obstructions and in turn give life forces a better chance to do their work.  One person may do a very great deal in connection with the healing of another, but this almost invariably implies co-operation on the part of the one who is being treated. We need only take a look at the Bible and the healings that Jesus Christ performed.  He most always needed the co-operation of the one who appealed to him for help.  His question always was, "Dost thou believe?" thereby stimulating into activity the life-giving forces within the one cured.

We have countless accounts of remarkable non-medical cures in all times and in connection with all religions, so why should not the power of effecting such cures exist among us today?  The power most certainly does exist in all of us and it can be actualized in just the degree that we recognize the same great laws that were recognized in biblical times.  We would do well to remember that health is just as contagious as disease.

Full, rich and abounding health is the normal and the natural condition of life.  Anything else is an abnormal condition...God never created sickness, suffering and disease; they are of human creation. So used are we to seeing them in our lives that we come gradually, if not to think of them as natural, to consider them as a matter of course.

I find it interesting that more that 100 years ago Ralph Waldo Trine wrote:  "The time will come when the work of the physician will not be to treat and to attempt to heal the body, but to heal the mind, which in turn will heal the body. In other words, the the physician will be a teacher whose work will be to keep people well, instead of attempting to make them well after sickness and disease comes on; and still beyond this there will come a time when each will be his own physician."

The health of our bodies, just as the health and strength of our minds, depends upon what we relate ourselves with and how we feed the soul within. It all has to do with a vital realization of the omnipotence of our own interior powers and how we nurture and use them.

Is it too much of a stretch to think that we have the unrealized potential to be our own physicians capable of attending to our full and ever-renewing bodily health and strength?

Something to think about on the Tuesday following the Labour Day weekend.

Here's to good health, my friend!  Make your own house call.  Do a checkup on the infinite power within you.