Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cuckoo's Eggs and Klein Bottles

Many years ago I read Clifford Stoll's book, The Cuckoo's Egg, about his tracking down a hacker that was using the computers at Lawrence Berkeley Labs while Stoll was on staff as an astronomer. It is a very engaging book and I was very happy to see that he was the featured speaker at an IBM technical conference I was attending in Miami. It was great seeing all of these blue-suiters coming down an escalator at the hotel surrounding this wild-haired guy in baggie jeans and Chuck Taylors, spinning a yo-yo over the side during his descent. He turned out to be an incredibly entertaining, if frenetic, speaker and I've wondered from time to time since then what he's been up to.

I now wonder no more, as he is apparently a stay-at-home dad and maker of fine Klein bottles for your amusement and edification. If you're not familiar with Klein bottles, think of them as three-dimensional representations of a four-dimensional space with a single surface - sort of a volumetric Moebius strip. Didn't help? How about this bit of Haiku found on Stoll's website (attributed to Oliver Humpage):

bottle of one side

holds nothing and ev'rything;

no one understands

For Kelly and others of you that are textile-oriented, there's a "Klein bottle" wool hat that I'm sorely tempted to order...


At 6:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My impression of him was damaged a bit by his "Silicon Snake Oil," which I found to be overly alarmist.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am SO getting Kelly to knit that hat for me...

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found a pattern and I actually understand it! Dang. Very cool.


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