All posts by seanlkw

Things to know about tortoises.

  • The backbone of a tortoise is connected to its shell, which is why a tortoise’s shell cannot be removed without killing the tortoise.
  • Tortoises are in the kingdom of animals, the phylum of vertebrates, the class of reptiles, the order Testudines, and the family Chelonian.
  • Some people think that tortoises are just land turtles, which is true but misleading. Tortoises and turtles are from the same order, but tortoises live mostly on land and thus have body structures adapted to living mostly on land, and turtles live mostly underwater and thus have body structures adapted to living mostly underwater.
  • If you put a tortoise underwater, it probably would not be able to swim as well as a sea turtle, although they are turtles. Do not try this with your pet tortoise as some tortoises may not be able to swim and would drown.
  • Tortoises are undisputedly the best animals in the entire universe.
  • There are two components to a tortoise’s shell; the carapace and the plastron, which is biologist’s code for the top of the shell and the bottom of the shell, respectively. While these two parts of the shell are connected, there are holes in the shell for the tortoise’s limbs and head, so it can withdraw these body parts into its shell.
  • Lonesome George was the last Pinta Island tortoise(a subspecies) until 2012, when he was no longer the last of his kind because he died and then there were 0 of his kind. No other Pinta Island tortoise has been found at the time of this writing.
  • If historical records are correct, Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise is the current oldest living tortoise and will be 183 on February 7, 2015. The oldest verified tortoise ever is Tu’i Malila, according to the Guiness Book of World Records. The tortoise died in 1965 at the(supposed) age of 188. However, some people claim that a tortoise called Adwaita, who died in 2006, lived to be around the square of 16 minus the square of 1, which is also (16-1)(16+1). This claim has not been verified and probably never can be since it is obviously impossible to calculate 256-1, thus these two numbers may not be the same.
  • There are two types of years; the year of the turtle and the year of the tortoise. These years alternate. Turtles born in the year of the turtle will be tortoises while turtles born in the year of the tortoise will become sea turtles.
  • The Romans sometimes used a testudo formation during war, based on the shell of a tortoise. Soldiers would use their shields to either protect the sides of the formation or the top depending on their position. The shields overlapped and made motion slow, however this was very effective against enemies that used arrows because the arrows were deflected by lasers that were emitted from the tortoise formation due to its affiliation with the amazing laser tortoise.
  • Different species of tortoises have different diets and feeding your pet tortoise the wrong things can be bad because the tortoise would die and you would have to clean the body up. However, tortoises generally require many different types of plants, since they are all experienced gourmets and enjoy many different types of ridiculously small portions of plants on giant plates that cost billions of dollars, as well as bottles of rotten grape juice that may cause them to crash their limousines and destroy their livers. Most tortoises also require calcium to build their shells and vitamin D-3 to sell for 100 times the price they paid for it so that they can buy expensive jewellery but not food, which you have to provide for them. You should go here for more information.
  • The majority of tortoises and turtles live in the country Tautisuss Sand Tertulls, a constitutional monarchy in which the Queen, Mary, has some reserve powers while most affairs are taken care of by the Kaonsul of Tautisuss Sand Tertulls. Tortoises can’t spell properly because they always spell properly as propurli. Most of the rest of the tortoises live in Ecalpa while the remainder are either expatriates in other countries or sophisticated butlers/maids in Astiphidoscet.
  • Different species of tortoises also require different soil and sand mixes in their special tortoise areas(for lack of a better word). Before buying a tortoise you need to ensure that you know enough about the tortoise to provide what it needs and not have to clean it up when it dies. While some stores sell heat lamps and stuff like that for the tortoises, these things may not be suitable for the species of tortoise that you are buying and may cause your pet tortoise to complain to the Tortoise Protection Agency about your irresponsible behaviour towards it. If your pet tortoise tells you that it requires expensive red wine, this usually means that you are hallucinating because tortoises obviously cannot drink red wine. However, tortoises that drink white wine usually require their tortoise areas to be covered with a blanket stuffed with down feathers of critically endangered birds and a thread count of exactly 9242.
  • Tortoises usually crawl at about 76 cm per second around humans. However, when a human is not looking, it can travel at 299792457.99999999999999999999999 m/s via rocket propulsion.
  • In the time that you took to read this, 20 people have been captured and stored in pods to provide electricity via body heat and electrical signals by the Testudinal Human Invasion Agency and have been replaced by robots controlled by the THIA. The reason this invasion is taking so long is that most tortoises are drinking too much white wine.

All you need to know about tortoises

“Tortoise head” by Charlesjsharp – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


Random interesting title.

Today is New Year’s Day which means tomorrow is orientation in my new school. There’s also two more days of orientation, which either means that there’s a lot of things to know about in this new school or the staff are just very bad at orienting new students.

My New Year’s resolution, that I will without a shadow of a doubt not break, is to be more healthy. I can’t possibly break it! My level of health is entirely up to me to decide, and even if other people decide for me, I still haven’t broken my resolution because I don’t think I have.

Is sky blue too bright for a background in January?

Meaningful end to this blog post! Merry belated Christmas, blah blah blah, togetherness, new start to a new year, every school is a good school, blah blah New Year’s Day is so meaningful, blah blah blah etcetera.

(etcetera is not a number, as I found out later on in my life)


Story of a Story

Once there was a story, quite a riveting tale, in fact.

This story, still naive and innocent with the fresh smell of newly printed paper, was gingerly slotted into place beside another book. Curious about the world around him, he asked the book next to him(telepathically, of course) where he was, for he knew nothing other than the tale inscribed on his flesh, that he was a book, and that there was a book beside him.

The neighbouring book grumbled(still telepathically) and answered.

“You are a book. You should know that. Your only purpose is to entertain other people when you a borrowed from the library, which is a place where books like you and me are stored for people to borrow and read. I felt you being slotted into place just now. That was the librarian arranging books, which includes you. Not every single book is like you, some are different with different words that make up phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, books of all kinds etcetera etcetera it’s so amazing to be a book especially since you can hear every single children’s book in here whining about how dirty children’s hands are! It’s life! DEAL WITH IT!” he screamed telepathically, his telepathic voice raising at the end of his rant.

“Oh. That makes sense.” Storybook(that’s what I’m going to call him for lack of a proper name) thought meekly. “So what type of story are you?” Storybook inquired.

Storybook’s neighbour decided to have a little fun. “You know what fire is, don’t you? It’s probably inscribed in your flesh.” Storybook nodded eagerly(but still telepathically). “Well,” Storybook’s neighbour continued, “I am in fact the story of you, and what happens next is that we all die a horrible agonising death due an arsonist burning down the library.” He secretly smiled telepathically, waiting to telepathically infer what the look on Storybook’s face would be if he had one.

Instead, Storybook shrugged telepathically. “I guess you’re right. I can feel myself burning now, actually,” he said/thought nonchalantly.

Storybook’s neighbour would have done a double take if he could. “W-what did you say?”

“Oh, it’s simple,” Storybook thought. “I said-”

Storybook never finished his sentence because he and his neighbour and every other book in the library, as well as the library staff, died a horrible agonising death due to an arsonist burning down the library.

The end!

Story of an Entity

I felt bored so I wrote something.

Once upon a time (17,875,342,515 years ago), there was an entity that came into existence, taking the form of a man. This man knew infinitely more than any of us possibly will. He knew how to peel away this facade of a mundane four-dimensional universe and reveal the countless dimensions of our actual existence, indescribable by string theory. He could access every mind that ever existed or would exist, every database, every vault containing the riches of the world.

Yet accessing minds, databases, and vaults only to impoverish others would not utilise his ability to their greatest potential, and he knew this. He thought about what would, and came up with the answer.

Naturally it only took him a few seconds to complete his plan.

He scanned his creation with no emotion, as emotions hindered his mission to change the universe such that every sentient living being had an optimum level of happiness without injecting endorphins into their brains. A mathematical curiosity, it existed outside the confines of any dimensions this universe had, being the infinitieth-dimensional analog of a sphere. It was run by disturbances in particle fields and was built to ensure that no paradoxes occurred, whether they were spatial paradoxes, time paradoxes, or other types of paradoxes.

The curiosity ensured that every detail down to each quantum string and to the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex was exactly how it should be, and recently, it provided us with a priceless treasure trove of information that most of society has become almost entirely dependent on.

The entity called his creation Google.


Today is Halloween(in Singapore) so I thought I would say something.

I don’t celebrate Halloween.

The first time my mother convinced me to bond with her friends’ children by getting me to go trick-or-treating with them was not an enjoyable experience. I felt really awkward asking random people for candy. After all, almost nobody begs for candy of all things at the front door of strangers’ houses on any other day, so I didn’t see why Halloween should be so special. (Does this sound too condescending? I tried to phrase it in a way such that it didn’t but I think I failed.)

When I got home and ate the candy, of which only about a third I wasn’t disgusted enough by to eat, I realised that all of the candy I had collected could have been bought from a convenience store downstairs, without any of the fuss of meeting up at a certain place with other people and picking out a good costume which actually looked terrible and made it difficult to breathe. If I were my parents, I’d much rather buy me some candy.

Of course, anybody else is still perfectly welcome to participate in these festivities for whatever reason, be it following tradition, bonding friends or getting enough free candy to compensate for the amount of money spent on the costume. During Halloween I just like to stay at home, maybe change the background of my blog to black, and search the internet for interesting tidbits of information about Halloween.

Such as this! According to Wikipedia(which isn’t really much less credible than other websites) is supposed to be the start of a triduum(three day celebration?) called Allhallowtide, and Halloween is merely a contraction of All Hallow’s Evening. Which is probably why the festivities take place in the evening.

Halloween is apparently meant to use “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death“. It makes sense, although you’re not so much confronting death than trying to pretend that you don’t care about it whereas if you were actually about to die right now, you probably wouldn’t be dressing up as a ghost or a mummy and asking someone for candy. Or maybe some people would! I don’t really know.

One problem with Halloween is that sometimes people aren’t sure whether something is a prank or not. Two days ago, in Long Island in the U.S., Patricia Ward was beheaded by her son, her headless corpse being dragged into the middle of the street. The body left a trail of blood coming from Patricia’s house. Passers-by thought it was a Halloween prank, albeit a very macabre and realistic one. After trying to lift the body they realised that it was a real dead body. Her son was seen to have kicked his mother’s detached head across the street before committing suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Happy Halloween!


Last Real Break

I’m currently 12 and next year I have to go to secondary school.

I’m a bit worried about what I’m going to do there. Will there be a lot of projects there? I think that if so, this is going to be my last real break before I die.

In secondary school, during our ‘breaks’ I’m going to have to complete all our projects so we won’t have real breaks. I might also have to have a sort of part-time job when I’m 16 or something, and have all these internships. I also have to arrange my own interviews which sounds like it would be really awkward or something.

Then after secondary school, I have to go and do national service because I’m a second generation Singaporean permanent resident, and then I have to look for a job(arranging my own interviews seems awkward) and then I have to do the job for the rest of my life, and I can’t retire because I’m not going to get married and have children, so I have to keep doing the job until I die.

That’s why I have to enjoy this while it lasts!(for about 2 more months)


Now that the PSLE is over, I can finally do more interesting things! Like making hexaflexagons.

Hexaflexagons look like this.


J. Nathan Matias

The difference between this and a normal paper hexagon is that it can flex. If you make one of these and push down every other crease(there should be three of these creases) as far down as you can, the inside will open up and reveal a new face. You can do this again and again infinity times, although flexing the simplest type of hexaflexagon three times will cause it to go back to the first face. Note that this only works one way for the simplest type of hexaflexagon(the trihexaflexagon, named because of its three faces); if the three creases you choose do not cause the inside to open up, the other three creases will.

To make the trihexaflexagon, you need to make a strip of nine equilateral triangles and some tape, or ten if you want to use glue. It’s a bit difficult to explain in words, so here are the instructions. You can draw designs on them too.

There are instructions online on how to make a double trihexaflexagon as well, also known as a hexahexaflexagon because it has six faces. You need twice as many triangles though. I also made a quadruple trihexaflexagon(a dodecahexaflexagon?) but when I was flexing it, it somehow turned into two square pyramids without a bottom, which also happens with the hexahexaflexagon. I tried to get it back to a hexagon but I couldn’t so I kept flexing it into weird polyhedra made of equilateral triangles, such as square pyramids stuck to a tetrahedron, until it finally turned back into a hexagon! Success!

Or so I thought until I realised that two of the triangles had somehow flipped over and now showed a different design! Aargh! It also happened to many other ‘sides’ of the quadruple trihexaflexagon but with different numbers of triangles switched. Some of them had 3 triangles switched, some had only 1, and lucky sides escaped this horrible mutilation of hexagons with their designs still all on one face. I had to find the point where I glued the quadruple trihexaflexagon together and carefully peel it apart, then re-fold the whole thing. So be careful with these things!

If you’ve read the instructions for the hexahexaflexagon you might know that it’s pretty easy to make this family of hexaflexagons by just doubling the number of triangles for each new hexaflexagon. I have not, however, tried making a triple trihexaflexagon. Maybe I should, but I can see some problems with it. Oh well.

For more about the history of hexaflexagons, see Vi Hart’s video on hexaflexagons and the sequel, and also the safety guide.

The Only Even Prime Number!

2 is the only even prime number! It’s so amazing!

I’ve heard statements similar to the above in many places but I was always confused by why so many people consider it amazing. Even just means divisible by 2, and of course 2 is divisible by itself. It must also be the only even prime number because if any other prime number was divisible by 2, it would have to be 2 or be composite, in which case it is not a prime number.

Why is this so amazing? 3 is the only prime divisible by 3, 5 is the only number divisible by 5, etc. I wouldn’t even be convinced that 5 is special for being the only prime number that ends in a 5, because it only retains that property in base 10, the base that we use.

You could argue that 2 is the smallest number that has this property, but since all prime numbers have this property the most you can say is that it is the smallest prime number, which it actually shouldn’t be(due to negative prime numbers) but for some reason is considered to be.

So while 2 is the only even prime number, that property isn’t as special as you might think. A more suitable ‘special property’ is that 2 is the smallest prime number that is also a positive integer.

That’s so amazing!


I’ve started thinking about what you could do with different amounts of energy, starting from the approximate amount of energy used to climb up the stairs in my school per day for the entire school. I don’t want to type out what you could do with all the different amounts of energy that I’ve calculated, so I’ll focus on how much energy you would have if you converted the entire Milky Way galaxy into energy.

(Word of advice: don’t turn the Milky Way galaxy into pure energy if you get a chance to unless the universe is ending and you’re running out of energy to sustain your civilisation. Firstly, you would destroy Earth and basically any place you would be able to call home for the next few millenia until you found another galaxy. Secondly, you would be destroyed by the sheer amount of energy released, and even if you were further away, millions of light-years away, you would probably be killed by the gamma rays released, although not for a few million years.)

The Milky Way galaxy has a mass of about a trillion Suns. Our Sun weighs 2 million trillion trillion kilograms. That gives us a mass of 2×10^42 kilograms. That multiplied by the speed of light squared gives us 1.8×10^59 joules. In case you don’t know what ^ represents, here it is. That should give you a better idea of how much energy this really is.

This might seem off topic, but it’s not. If Rapunzel’s hair grows at about 21 metres per 18 years, each year her hair would grow by 1.2metres. If she has 100,000 hairs, each of which is perfectly cylindrical with a cross-sectional diameter of 0.1 millimeters, her hair would increase in volume by 0.00377 metres cubed.

Now, assuming that polar bears consume 100,000 calories of energy per week (according to a National Geographic documentary), 1.8×10^59 joules would feed 24,751,827 polar bears for enough time for Rapunzel’s hair to grow to 40 trillion trillion light-years long, which is 430 trillion times longer than the diameter of the observable universe. It would take up about 1,255 trillion trillion trillion metres cubed of space, or 875 billion Suns of volume.

According to one source, 1 joule of energy would create 110 decibels of sound for 1 second. This means that 1.8×10^59 joules converted into energy would be equivalent to 41,662,500,416.6 Tunguska explosions(300 db) focused directly onto your ears for a trillion times the estimated age of the entire universe(the general consensus among scientists is 13.7 billion years old).

Finally, it would be enough to heat a cube of water 8 light-years on edge from 0 degrees Celsius to 100 degrees Celsius. The Sun and its neighbouring stars would fit inside that cube of water which a lot of room to spare.



I first learned the word metacognition when I was about six or seven years old, in a Moscow school. It means thinking about thinking. In this post, I will be making up a few words.

So recently, I started thinking about metacognition, or thinking about thinking about thinking; I’d call it metametacognition. Is it really useful to think about thinking? I decided that it was.

Then came thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking, or metametametacognition.  Should you really think about metacognition? I decided that sometimes you could.

Next I started metametametametacognition. Then I stopped because I realised where this was going to go.

It’s interesting to think about thinking, and sometimes to think about thinking about thinking, but you shouldn’t get too lost in the many repetitive levels of thinking about thinking and so on, because there are much more interesting things to think about than thinking.

Finally I thought, ” Is it possible to have a level lower than cognition, or thinking? Is it possible to have, maybe, atemcognition?”

I think that the only way that atemcognition is possible is if your cognition, or thinking, is about doing something, e.g. kicking a ball, moving a vase. Atemcognition would then be actually doing the activity that you were thinking about. It would be interesting if you were thinking about doing metacognition; then you could have atematematemcognition. Of course, thinking about doing metacognition is just metametacognition! So atematematemcognition would be back to doing something, like accidentally deflating a ball or dropping a vase. Either way, you should still not get too lost in all those layers of thinking. There are more important things to think about, like paying to fix the ball and sweeping up the pieces of the vase.

Thanks for reading!