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« method acting | Main | geek grrls: the next generation »


The latest Cirque du Soleil show (Corteo) features some great jugglers. At one point one of them walks on the heads of the others while he juggles, and the other three juggle between each other at the same time -- pretty amazing.

Apropos of nothing but science, I took time off of work yesterday and the whole family went down to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Let me recommend that everyone anywhere near this city should make the effort to see this museum at some point. It's great. Frogs are now the main exhibit and they're great. My latest blog entry features the American Bullfrog in all its splendor:

In the next few days I'll try to post a shot of the African Bullfrog, which is nothing if not more impressive. Also the little posionous tree frogs are so colorful they look like plastic toys.

Plus the original Foucault pendulum is still there and is still proving the Earth rotates -- way cool.

Hi, thanks for that interesting historical on juggling. life is one big juggling act, between balancing the thing we can do, the things we want to do, and the things we have to or must do. That is what makes life exciting, interesting, thrilling and hopefully fun. One never knows when one is going to spill the next cuppa hot cocoa, or drop the 'proverbial' clanger a la roccoco ...

Ha, I've seen Master Lee, that's a great show in Washington Square.

I can also vouch for the degree of difficulty between juggling three items and four. Still can't do four consistently...


Really interesting read. I am a juggler and there is a great deal of juggler to Geek ratio. We don't know why either. I don't know how to describe this mathmatically but what I find most attractive about juggling is you never learn everything. In 30 years of juggling a lot, I still learn new patterns every year. Maybe that is the attraction. It is always a new challenge.

I can't wait to see someone in this life time juggle that many swords. Hopefully someone will.

I know Jack Kalvan and he is an amazing juggler.

Somewhere there is another study not mentioned here on how juggling creates grey matter in our brains which was thought to stop happening as we become adults and grow older. A study using juggling showed that to be untrue. I won't go into it because I will quote it incorrectly but if you search for it you can find it.

Thanks again.

Ron Graham is pictured keeping 12 balls aloft in Hoffman's biog of Paul Erdos - the man who loved only numbers. Sad to say he is assisted in doing this, not by scientific insight, but by digital technology.

Analysis of juggling would seem to offer a great opportunity for application of group theory. After spending so much time considering rotations in abstract spaces, rotations in real space should be a piece of cake to consider. Which group describes exchange of 3 identical balls? Suppose one of the balls is different; which juggling operations preserve SU(3)? and suchlike.

Nice article. The history aspect might have been nicer with a focus on jugglers within the last 100-200 years. It would give you a more accurate read of what people could really do. Anyone who would practice nine swords on a regular basis would be killed. Though I'm sure you're aware.

And Quote

Furthermore, the number of possible patterns is relatively small.

(I'm a juggler...sorry)

Tell that to Wes Peden.

Overall, I think you did a pretty good job. You should look into Siteswap if your're interested in the math of juggling. (or look up Ben Beevers guide to juggling patterns on
Keep up the good work.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.