Optimization


Today marks the opening of the twenty-first Winter Olympic Games, held this time in Vancouver, British Columbia. Athletes representing over 80 countries will compete in fifteen winter sport events, all hoping to hear their national anthem played for them.

Though the Olympics have long been considered an amateurs’ competition, there’s nothing unprofessional about the competitors. They’ve spent years conditioning their bodies and training their minds for their respective sports. Meanwhile, scientists and corporations continually work together to produce uniforms and equipment that aid participants in competitions. Everything about these athletes, from their technique and form to their specially designed apparel, is optimized for the best performance possible. (more…)

There’s a great scene in The Empire Strikes Back where the crew of the Millennium Falcon tries desperately to escape a fleet of Imperial star destroyers. Knowing the Falcon is sorely out matched by the size and fire-power of the enemy vessels, Captain Han Solo resorts to flying his ship into a huge asteroid field to evade pursuit.

C-3PO screeches in protest, “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1!”

Han snaps, “Never tell me the odds.” (more…)