Monday, June 07, 2004

Some Ideas

I just chatted on the phone with my best friend from college. He was as full of interesting and thought-provoking ideas as ever. Consider:

1. What is the principle, if there is one, behind the choice of colors in the motto for "Google"?

As you can see, both Gs are blue. But the principle can't be that any letter always retains the same color, because the two Os are red and yellow. Perhaps there is some sort of sequence? But the sequence is broken: It starts off with blue, red, yellow. If the next G started another three-color sequence, the last three letters should be blue, red, yellow. But they're blue, green, red. Where the heck did that green come from? Perhaps if there was some sort of motto, there would turn out to be a longer 6-or-greater sequence in play. But we'll never know, with such a short sample size.

2. Why are there so many different last names? It seems only logical that last names should be perpetually ending. Some families die out because there aren't any children. Some families' only children die in accidents. In most American families, the female children will eventually get married and change their name, which means that their original family name dies out unless there is a male who has children. Hardly anyone actually creates a brand-new last name anymore. So on the very most optimistic assumptions, the supply of last names could only rise to the level of stability. In reality, the number of last names is likely on a steady decline.

So is there some future point at which everyone will have the same last name? Or is it only immigration that saves us from that confusing fate?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hardly anyone actually creates a brand-new last name anymore."

But, depending on the rate of name extinction though the mechanisms you suggest, you wouldn't NEED a lot of people creating new last names. And, of course, we import a lot of new last names, through immigration.

5:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The principle is probably akin to the 4-color rule for map coloring; there is a minimum number of colors (usually 4) that need to be used so that two adjacent countries (or letters in this instance) do not have the same color. Try to figure it out; all the ways to have no same adjacent colors are variations on the theme that Google chose.

10:55 AM  
Blogger chispero said...

Apparently Google has hired a lot of Ph.D.'s. Maybe all that intellectual power has helped them create the perfect logo color combination...

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally know two occasions where people changed their last name to revive a family name that otherwise would have been lost. One was the birth of a child and the other a marriage (the latter was also motivated by the desire to lose the name of a hated stepfather.).

Roger Sweeny

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a simple discordant triadic color scheme. A four color scheme with three colors being equally spaced on the wheel and one color being a compliment to one of the triads. The compliment will be equidistant from the other two triads. So, B,R,Y are the triads (primary triads in this case) and G is the discordant compliment. Triad first. Then each combination of the triad with the compliment in the middle. So, B,R,Y,B,G,R,B,G,Y,R,G,Y. Repeat.


9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:15 PM  

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