The writhe of a knot is a mathematical measure of the net direction of crossing, summing clockwise against anticlockwise. The 2D writhe is the measure obtained from each of the crossings taken from a projection of the knot onto a two-dimensional surface. The 3D writhe, also called just 'writhe', is the average of 2D writhes across all possible projections.

It has recently been discovered that (3D) writhe is quantized. The quantum is 4/7.

This discovery was made by the Polish physicist Piotr Pieranski, using computer models of knotting techniques, taking into account how a loose knot can be shrunk to its ideal or minimal configuration. It was then confirmed by abstract mathematical methods by researchers Andrzej Stasiak and Corinne Cerf.

It is possible that this quantization may have implications for both the unfolding of DNA and the possible existence of knotted strings in string theory.

Source: this week's New Scientist (issue 2316). Cerf and Stasiak's work is in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (vol. 97, p. 3795), Pieranski's is to appear in The European Physical Journal E.

You are sick as shit.

You go to the ER.

You finally feel safe, on a bed, they will save me, you think.

The nurse is on autopilot. He does not seem concerned. You are shaking a little as he arranges you on the bed. He puts the heart monitor stickers on and hooks you up. Blood pressure cuff, pulse ox. Blood pressure is fine, pulse is a bit fast, at 110.

You notice he is not making eye contact.

"I'm cold." you whisper.

He doesn't reply. He keeps messing with the wires. He puts the call button next to your hand. He leaves and returns with a warm blanket. It feels wonderful. He doesn't say a word.

You feel better under the warmth.

The respiratory therapist wheels in the ECG machine. You smile at her but again, no eye contact. She puts more stickers on you. "Hold a deep breath." The ECG spits out. She takes it and leaves.

The radiology tech wheels the portable xray machine in. You watch his face but don't bother to smile. He looks everywhere but at you. It's a bit creepy. Are they all robots? It's 3 pm, not 3 am. "Lean forward," says the tech, putting the radiology cartridge behind you. "Take a deep breath and hold it." He takes the cartridge and leaves.

The nurse is back. Puts in the iv and draws 5 tubes of blood. You are shivering a little. He doesn't seem to notice. You think about another warm blanket. The iv fluid starts and you can feel it running cold into your arm.

There is a child crying in the ER, in some other room. You start noticing the noises. Machines beeping. People typing on computer keyboards. No one is talking. The kid gives a howl of protest, rising and then is abruptly quiet.

Your hands and feet are tingling and burning. You writhe a little under the blanket. Sensation is returning to your hands and feet. It hurts but it is also good. You were at the point where all your feeling had shrunk to a tiny spark in the center of your chest. As the iv fluid runs, feeling slowly spreads out from that.

The doctor comes in. Grumpy, clearly. "Lean forward." Listens to your chest. "Sounds clear."

"It's been hurting for 5 days. It hurts to breathe. Burns." You are anxious as hell. BELIEVE ME.

The ER doc gives a little shrug. "Oxygen sats are fine." He does a half-assed exam. He leaves.

You look at your feet, taking your socks off. Because he didn't. There are two black spots, a couple millimeters across, old blood. Those are new.

You press the call button.

Time goes by. The nurse floats back in.

"Look. Tell the doctor to look. These are petechiae." You point to the black spots.

If the nurse had laser vision, your feet would be burned. The nurse glares at your feet. He goes out.

The doc comes in and looks at your feet.

"They are petichiae. I have an infection."

He gives a tiny shrug. "Your chest xray looks clear. Your labs are normal. You are not running a fever."

"I am on azithromycin for walking pneumonia. I suddenly felt like all the fluid was running out of my arms and legs. I am worried that I am septic."

"Blood pressure is fine. You are really really anxious."

You are furious. It probably shows on your face. You are terrified.

"Could it be an antibiotic reaction?"

Shrug. "No rash."

"Except the petechiae." A sign of sepsis.

"I will change the antibiotics. Clindamycin." He leaves.

You lie back, terrified. He doesn't believe you. He is sending you home, septic. You will probably die.

The nurse comes in. Removes the iv and unhooks the monitor and the blood pressure cuff. You get dressed, numb and frightened and cold. The nurse goes out and returns. He recites the patient instructions in a bored voice and gives you the first dose of clindamycin.

You walk shakily to the door of the emergency room. To go home. While you are septic and they don't believe you. You know what happens with sepsis: your blood pressure will drop and then organ damage and then IF you survive you could have heart damage or lung damage or brain damage and you might not anyhow.

You go home.

Writhe (?), v. t. [imp. Writhed (?); p. p. Writhed, Obs. or Poetic Writhen (); p. pr. & vb. n. Writhing.] [OE. writhen, AS. wrian to twist; akin to OHG. ridan, Icel. ria, Sw. vrida, Dan. vride. Cf. Wreathe, Wrest, Wroth.]

1.

To twist; to turn; now, usually, to twist or turn so as to distort; to wring.

"With writhing [turning] of a pin."

Chaucer.

Then Satan first knew pain, And writhed him to and fro. Milton.

Her mouth she writhed, her forehead taught to frown. Dryden.

His battle-writhen arms, and mighty hands. Tennyson.

2.

To wrest; to distort; to pervert.

The reason which he yieldeth showeth the least part of his meaning to be that whereunto his words are writhed. Hooker.

3.

To extort; to wring; to wrest.

[R.]<-- ; extract -->

The nobility hesitated not to follow the example of their sovereign in writhing money from them by every species of oppression. Sir W. Scott.

 

© Webster 1913.


Writhe, v. i.

To twist or contort the body; to be distorted; as, to writhe with agony. Also used figuratively.

After every attempt, he felt that he had failed, and writhed with shame and vexation. Macaulay.

 

© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.