It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…
— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
It was inevitable. The ice storm had careened through the Austin (Texas) area, leaving more than some slight wreckage in its wake for Austinites, including yours truly: Tree limbs that had cracked under their own ice-burdened weight, cars dinged by hailstones, and so on. You get the picture, right.
Speaking of which—the part having to do with cars dinged by hailstones—a word to the wise: One of the coolest companies that you may never have heard of is the one to know for all your vehicle insurance, valuation, and repair-related needs. (I work there, in fact. Yes, this is my personal blog, and all opinions expressed here are my own, including the one I just expressed, to be sure.)
And speaking of pictures, it was on sighting such a winter storm refugee of a cracked tree limb—check the inverted tree in the picture above—that this inverted tale, the one you’re about to read up, sprang to life. So I got to wondering, Where else would one find analogs of an inverted tree and inversion in general? Where all do the principles of inversion apply, amirite?
So in the sections coming up, and one-at-a-time, let’s find out exactly where some of that wondering led us:
- Inverted Trees
- Inverted Funnel
- Car Invertor
- Inversion of Control
- Inverted Pendulum
- Inverse-square Law
- Inverted image
Oh, and if you profess a certain fondness for all things statistical, we regret to inform you that a tale of the long tail this is not; to be precise, this is an inverted tale. I must confess, though, that the Dickens quote above makes you wonder whether he knew a thing or two about this whole inversion business, doesn’t it?
Either way, let’s dive right into our seven or so “inverted” items, the ones enumerated above.
1. Inverted Trees
Everywhere, oh everywhere, are to be found—these decidedly abstract trees—in the practice of programming, like a rainbow in the sky. And never you mind the rapidly darkening skies in the next pic. Let’s all stay bunkered down for a bit more, shall we? We got you covered as we power forward.
2. Inverted Funnel
Conventional wisdom has it that your personal safety will be directly proportional to your distance from this inverted marvel of Nature. Just a word to the wise, in particular to the storm-chasers.
3. Car Invertor
By training, I’m an engineer—and a computer scientist by profession—but that training (at least the undergrad part) involved electrical circuits, oscilloscopes, and inverters, plus myriad other critters. Nary a car to be found in said training. But I can certainly point you to the basis for this kind of inversion business.
4. Inversion of Control
Salmon swim upstream during a certain season of the year, inverting their swim lane direction (to a certain way of thinking), amirite? While our aquatic friends aren’t especially renowned for their Domain-Driven Design acumen, they know a thing or two about doing the right thing, directionally. And then there’s this ubiquitous business of Inversion of Control (aka IoC) in our software industry, of course.
5. Inverted Pendulum
I invite you to check out the fun to be had with inverted pendulums. Physics was a fav subject of mine in high school and college, and this inversion phenomenon sure reminds me of some fun times.
6. Inverse-square Law
This one is a 10 right there for its 3-D coolness. Enough said. To explore more, head on over there.
To be sure, there are plenty of other inversions going on around us. The trick is to know where to look. Do be sure ping us here—by way of a comment or two, or more—about your own findings. We’re all lifelong learners here.
Adios for now.
Akram, your posts always remind me of that British show called Connections. Taking all sorts of seemingly random things and connecting them all with a needle and thread. Thanks for your posts.
Jim, your comments over the years continue to inspire me: Without readers like you who make the time to pitch in with gracious comments such as this one, writers like me would be hard pressed in the area of motivation. By the way, I must confess my ignorance in the matter of the British show you cite (Connections.) But I see, dare I say, the connection of that show to my essay. Thanks for your comments.