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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
-- Michelangelo, born March 6, 1475

A recent issue of Brain Aerobics Weekly celebrates the rebirth that comes with spring by honoring two icons of the Italian Renaissance (rebirth), Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo da Vinci. As noted above, Michelangelo famously spoke of releasing the carvings that already existed in a block of marble. The unfinished slave statue at left gives an inkling of that practice. Both men learned human anatomy from corpses, and both were multi-talented artists, architects and engineers, but Michelangelo was also an accomplished poet and Leonardo an accomplished scientist and inventor. Sign up for Brain Aerobics Weekly to learn more or check out their biographies online.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Claude Monet and criticism

I frequently like to include artists – both well-known and lesser known – in the Potpourri section of Brain Aerobics Weekly . . I especially like to include information many people may not know, such as how Claude Monet’s palette changed before and after his cataract surgery. And because one point of brain aerobics is help others tap into their creativity, I often find that anecdotes about artists provide some life lessons. Here’s one told by Monet himself: Manet wanted one day to paint my wife and children. Renoir was there. He took a canvas and began painting them too. After a while, Manet took me aside and whispered, "You're on very good terms with Renoir and take an interest in his future - do advise him to give up painting! You can see for yourself that it's not his metier at all."

Which just goes to show you shouldn’t let the naysayers darken your dreams.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Math and logic puzzles

My publications tend to include few math and logic puzzles, in part because I have little patience for them, and in part because I often can’t properly illustrate them when they involve pennies or matchsticks, for example. However, here’s one that is easy to show:

5 + 5 + 5 = 550
Can you add one straight line to make the equation accurate? (Putting a line through the = sign is clever, but not what we’re looking for.) Think about it a bit before looking up the answer, which is simply this: Draw a diagonal line on one of the plus signs to make it a 4. Logical thinkers may figure out the answer quickly, but if others are frustrated by it, use it as a chance to show how we each bring unique skills to any group.
Here’s another one to solve that actually depends on words: Look at the following sequence and note that all the numbers from 1 to 15 are shown except 4 and 9. Where do they belong in the sequence and why?
8, 11, 15, 5, 14, 1, 7, 6, 10, 13, 3,12, 2
Like the previous exercise, this one is good for filling in time while people are regrouping; offer a small prize to anyone who comes up with the solution. The answer lies not in the numbers but in their spelling: They are in alphabetical order.
(Adapted from 101 More Games for Trainers by Bob Pike)