Friday, February 25, 2011

How to play the longest word in English possible, in Scrabble, ethylenediaminetetraacetates

Why is ethylenediaminetetraacetates the longest word in Scrabble? There are other longer, more popular words, like floccinaucinihilipilification, the act of esteeming something as worthless, antidisestablishmentarianism, which is wanting to keep the Church of England together, the Mary Poppins originated word of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and that one volcano ash lung disease condition, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Before I answer that, here's how to play ethylenediaminetetraacetates:
It's a hard word to play in Scrabble because none of its obvious compound words of ethylenediamine, diaminetetra, and tetraacetates are words. What is ethylenediaminetetraacetates? It's the conjugate base of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid or EDTA, which is some kind of industrial compound.

The longest word that anyone's actually heard of is electroencephalographically, which is a form of electroencephalograph, an EEG, which is when they put a bunch of wires on your head and the read your brain waves.

How to play electroencephalographically:
However, both of those words don't fit on a regular 15x15 Scrabble board. They're only theoretically possible, because The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary only has 7 and 8 letter words as the longest words, and the official Scrabble dictionary says, "Words that exceed eight letters in length and are not inflected forms of words entered in this dictionary should be looked up in a standard dictionary. The National SCRABBLE® Association recommends Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, as a reference for additional words." And, the longest word in that referenced lexical tome is ethylenediaminetetraacetates. So, that's the answer to the question above. That means you'll either need to play this on Super Scrabble Max Ultimate® which only exists in the future, or find an online word game like Word2 or Lexulous.

So, what's the longest word that you can actually play on a real Scrabble board? Actually, there are thousands. Because of all of the crazy words allowed in the Scrabble dictionary, there's a theoretically possible way to play almost every possible 15-letter word. I did an in-depth analysis where I analyzed each of the possible words based on their letter frequency, and found that interpenetrated or interpenetrates is the easiest word to play, based just on letter frequency.

How to play interpenetrates or interpenetrated:
  • play IN
  • skip 3 letters and play PEN
  • skip 2 letters and play RATE
  • turn PEN--RATE into PENETRATE
  • turn IN---PENETRATE into INTERPENETRATE
  • add a D or an S for the glorious finish
Based on my mathematical analysis of Scrabble letter frequency, the following 15-letter words will be the easiest to play in Scrabble, out of about two thousand possible 15-letter words. Of course getting both wild tiles will help a lot. Because Scrabble has so many allowed crazy 2- and 3-letter words, you should be able to make all of these. For example, MO, LO, and RE are all allowed Scrabble words.

And the hardest 15-letter words to play in Scrabble, based on letter frequency are PSYCHOLOGICALLY and PSYCHOPATHOLOGY.

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Image purchased from istockphoto

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A literal interpretation of the Bible, and the Fermi paradox

According to some literal interpretations of the Bible, the world is only a few thousand years old.

Here's the math. One day to God is like 1,000 years. God created the world in six days plus one day of rest. That equals 7,000 years. Then Adam and Eve were born or hatched or created about 4,000 BC, and we're all currently at 2,011 AD, so that's 6,011 more years, so Earth has been around for 13,011 years, as far as I can tell. Please note that I didn't actually consult a Bible in coming up with this literal interpretation of the Bible.

The Fermi paradox basically says that it's paradoxical that we haven't yet found evidence of aliens. Assuming there are trillions of aliens on thousands, if not millions, of planets in our galaxy, why haven't we seen any yet? That's the paradox.

Another way of asking Fermi's antinomy is, why hasn't SETI, the alien-hunter organization who's scanning the skies for radio waves from distant planets, found any alien radio waves with alien signals? As Khan said, "Let them eat static!" So far, after years of listening to radio waves, all the SETI folks have heard is static.

If we consider a literal interpretation of the Bible, we have an answer for the Fermi paradox.

But, first, I should explain how Earth can be only thirteen thousand years old, when we have hard evidence, in the way of fossils and other rocks, that proves Earth is millions or billions of years old. God actually created Earth in only one thousand years. The rest of the time, God spent making plants and humans and stuff. So, to create Earth in a thousand years, he couldn't have used volcanoes and tectonic plates and all of that other stuff that scientists talk about. God must have a huge Earth-O-Matic™ machine that he used to fabricate Earth. Think about it, if God's all powerful, then he can certainly build a Jupiter-sized factory somewhere in the galaxy that makes to-scale models of Earth, starting with just digital plans and a lot of spare matter, and make this Earth complete with fossils that seem millions of years old, and a bunch of fossil fuels ready for our use, and accomplish all that in only a thousand years.

This means that dinosaurs didn't really exist. There simply wasn't time enough for God to let them roam around and evolve. At least on this earth.

Somewhere, sometime, in another solar system, billions or trillions of years ago, dinosaurs probably existed. But as soon as God got the Earth evolution template correct, complete with fossil fuels, he probably digitized that planet, and sent the plans back to his Jupiter-sized factory, and started mass producing these perfect Earth planets. One of those, our Earth, got delivered to our solar system. And within a few of God's long days, Adam and Eve were busy getting busy.

This should explain every inconsistency between science and a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Back to the Fermi paradox. Obviously God doesn't want us to interact with aliens, for some divine reason. So, after he created Earth, he whisked it away to a solar system that had the least likelihood of receiving radio waves from inhabited planets. God obviously has the most powerful computer available to any being in the universe, so he could have easily done the calculation on which solar system in the whole galaxy would be least prone to pesky alien radio waves.


Thus, the answer to the Fermi paradox, which is that God put us in a very statistically unlikely position in the galaxy to be able to communicate with aliens.

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Photo purchased from iStockphoto.
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