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Posts

April 24, 2014

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1:01 AM | Believe it or not, we've been talking about the nice Krugman -- some perspective on the 538 debate
[You may have trouble getting past the NYT firewall on these. If so, the easiest way around this is either to Google name and author or do what I did and go here for a complete set.]One of the side questions in the ongoing 538 debate is whether or not Nate Silver and his writers are being excessively criticized. There is certainly some truth to the charge (for reasons I'll get into later), but it's also important to remember that, to a remarkable extent, Silver walked into a bar fight, a number […]

April 23, 2014

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10:56 PM | More on the Fermi paradox (from David Wallace).
In a comment to the previous post on the Fermi Paradox, David Wallace wrote this terrific exposition of it. I agree with almost everything he says, so I will save my own quibbles for a comment. David writes: Just to clarify the force of the Fermi paradox (which is intended...
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6:09 PM | Fighting creationism through debate is pointless; how then can we do it?
A friend of mine is doing her DPhil in Oxford. She's American, and out of term she goes back to her home in middle America. She recently went to see the newly refurbished museum in her home town. When she was looking at the displays on human evolution, a museum...
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6:03 PM | SB 1391 and the Criminalization of Pregnancy in Tennessee
A petition is making its way through the interwebs, asking Gov. Bill Haslam to veto SB 1391. The bill would modify the Tennessee criminal code to allow for criminal assault charges to be brought against women who use illegal narcotics while pregnant, should their drug use lead to harm or...
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5:00 PM | One rule of life: Are we poised on the border of order?
There are signs that all living things sit on the knife-edge of criticality – something that could help them adapt to complex and unpredictable events
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5:00 PM | Maths spying: the quandary of working for the spooks
Intelligence agencies hire lots of mathematicians, but would-be employees must realise that their work is misused to snoop on everyone, says Tom Leinster
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3:30 PM | Retractions appear in case of former Kansas water scientist rebuked for misconduct
Back in December, the University of Kansas issued a public censure of a former water researcher who, the school says, engaged in a pattern of plagiarism and other shoddy publishing practices. Marios Sophocleous, who’d held the position of senior scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey: has been found to have engaged in scholarly misconduct, relating […]
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1:30 PM | Crystal unclear? “Business decision” forces retraction of silicon paper
A group of researchers in Tokyo has lost their 2013 article in the Journal of Crystal Growth over commercial interests — which don’t appear to be their own. We’ll explain. The article, “Interactions between planar defects in bulk 3C-SiC,” came from a team consisting of a researcher at Keio University and scientists at two companies, […]
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1:00 PM | Build a stable wormhole with the help of dark aliens
An extension of Einstein's gravity would let us build a wormhole – if we could send messages to invisible aliens via space-time ripples
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12:57 PM | Talk like Shakespeare day
Mark, 'tis 'Talk Liketh Shakespeare Day!' Then come, good fellows, and let us dream of dragons and finless fish, take but a moment and speak of clip-winged griffins and a ramping cat. The youth of England are on fire, and though men may sleep, some have knives with edges. Such...
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12:07 PM | Interalia: From strings to sculpture
Interalia is a show by Turner Prize winning artist Grenville Davey and theoretical physicist David Berman. When I went to see Interalia yesterday afternoon I managed to walk past the gallery twice, before an extremely helpful passer by finally pointed me in the (obvious) right direction. This worried me: if I can't even find the gallery, will I be equally unperceptive when it […]
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12:00 PM | Game of primes ends as mathematics gets too difficult
There's a ceasefire in an online race to solve the 165-year-old twin prime conjecture, but the game has brought us closer than ever to a proof
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11:07 AM | Things not to do at conferences
Has you done any of the following or had them done to you? Changing your paper after receiving written versions of the comments so that the comments no longer make sense (Eric Schliesser on this HERE). If you are a senior European philosopher, instead of asking a question during the...

April 22, 2014

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9:31 PM | Don't Beware of Math... Be Aware of It!
There is a certain sense of mystery to math. You step into a question and simply stand in the unknown. Then you begin to explore, looking for pieces that fit together. This type of thinking is helpful for life, as it offers its unknowns.
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3:52 PM | No se puede hacer más lento: un artículo enviado en 1995 se publica en 2009
El manuscrito de este artículo de cinco páginas fue enviado el 14 de junio de 1995 para publicación, fue aceptado el 8 de mayo de 2006, apareció online el 8 de octubre de 2008 y finalmente publicado en papel […] Leer más La entrada No se puede hacer más lento: un artículo enviado en 1995 se publica en 2009 fue escrita en La Ciencia de la Mula Francis. Entradas relacionadas: XXXII Carnaval Física: No se puede hacer más lento Aceptan un artículo de Mathgen en una […]
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3:30 PM | Plant paper retracted when new species turns out not to be so new
In December, a group of biologists in Thailand published a paper in the Nordic Journal of Botany heralding the discovery of a new species of plant: Bauhinia saksuwaniae, a new species from northeastern Thailand is described and illustrated. It appears to be an endemic and endangered species. The new species is obviously distinct from all […]
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1:30 PM | Scientist found to have falsified data in thesis sues to keep her PhD
In August 2012, the authors of “Novel Approach to the Lundurine Alkaloids: Synthesis of the Tetracyclic Core,” a paper in Organic Letters, retracted it: The authors retract this Organic Letters communication on the basis that the RCM of 24 to give 25 (Scheme 6) is not reproducible; thus, the reduction of 25 to give 26 […]
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1:00 PM | Climate Science Blogs to Follow for Earth Day
This blog has now made almost exactly one trip around the sun! We kicked things off last year on Earth Day with the mathematics of planet earth, and today I want to highlight some more posts about our planet. On … Continue reading →
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1:00 PM | What do grades measure?
[I wrote this in the middle of the big SAT thread and I thought I had posted it weeks ago but it appears that I never got around to it. So better late than never...]As discussed before,  many of the calls for getting rid of the SAT use the argument that high school grades are a better indicator of college success so we don't need the SAT. There's a modeling fallacy here (also as previously discussed), but putting that aside, the suggestion that we should rely almost entirely on grades as a […]
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7:00 AM | Intervalle de confiance : pourquoi tant de défiance ?
Les difficultés des enseignants, en statistique, devant les intervalles de confiance, sont analysées comme épistémologiques, sémantiques et calculatoires ... et on étudie comment les surmonter, à la lumière de la pratique des statisticiens. - Billets des habitués
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12:00 AM | Windshield Raindrops
Windshield Raindrops At what speed would you have to drive for rain to shatter your windshield? Daniel Butler Fast. Raindrops are tiny. Even in the heaviest rainstorms, the water in the air weighs less than the air itself (which is one of several reasons you can't swim upward in a rainstorm). Even at very high speeds, they can't break a windshield via their momentum alone. Under ordinary circumstances, raindrops don't damage car windshields at all. However, they can destroy […]

April 21, 2014

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7:00 PM | Smallest subversive: Mathematical fight for our world
At stake in the fierce 17th-century debate over a mathematical concept was nothing less than our modern world, says Amir Alexander in Infinitesimal
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5:00 PM | Faulty model forces rapid retraction of paper on sea ice and climate change
Last month, researchers published a paper whose conclusions suggested that looking at Arctic sea ice in the autumn offers clues to winter temperatures in Europe. The letter appeared — briefly, as this post will demonstrate — in Nature Geoscience. The letter, titled “High predictability of the winter Euro–Atlantic climate from cryospheric variability,” was written by […]
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3:39 PM | Get a grip on mathematical symbolism with Loughborough University
Here’s yet another intro to mathematical thinking MOOC. Loughborough University, and in particular Professor Tony Croft, is offering a course called “Getting a grip on mathematical symbolism” through the FutureLearn platform. It starts on the 28th of April. There isn’t much information about the course online yet, apart from the brief description on the official... Read more »
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3:30 PM | Springer fake paper tally up to 18
We have some updates on the case of more than 120 fake SCIgen conference proceedings papers that slipped into IEEE and Springer journals. A month ago, Springer said it would be retracting the 16 such papers it found, instead of just removing them: On 27 February, we said that we would *remove* the articles, not […]
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3:19 PM | Univalent Foundations of Mathematics
In an effort to make mathematics more computable, a consortium of today's greatest mathematicians have laid out new foundations. Amazingly, they all lie upon one single axiom, called univalence. The goal of this axiom is to make formal mathematics more similar to informal mathematics. But it also has an unforeseen and mesmerizing consequences.
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1:30 PM | Retraction Watch is hiring an intern: Here’s how to apply
Retraction Watch readers: We need help. As many of our loyal tipsters know, the list of retractions and related stories that we can’t get to just keeps getting longer. And as we grow, we want to groom a stable of paid freelance — and perhaps one day full-time — Retraction Watch contributors. So with that […]
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12:30 PM | What’s the Deal with Euclid’s Fourth Postulate?
In February, I wrote about Euclid’s parallel postulate, the black sheep of the big, happy family of definitions, postulates, and axioms that make up the foundations of Euclidean geometry. I... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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7:30 AM | What Nate Silver's critics are actually saying
Regarding the ongoing 538 discussion, it appears that we may be talking across each other in this case (from a previously mentioned comment by Kaiser Fung):"The level of rigor that Krugman and others demand requires years, perhaps decades, of research to write one piece; meanwhile, the other critique is the content is not timely. Think about the full-time journalists he has hired - there isn't a way to pay them enough to do the kind of pieces that are being imagined. As we all know, data […]
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6:00 AM | Quick & Dirty – Cerchi nei quadrati, sfere nei cubi and so on…
Qui non è la prima risposta che è sbagliata: è la risposta giusta, che è sbagliata… Cominciamo con N=2. Prendete un quadrato, dividetelo in quadranti. Tracciate i quattro cerchi inscritti in ognuno dei quadranti. Al centro del quadrato originale, tracciate il cerchio tangente ai quattro cerchi inscritti. Non dovreste avere problemi a calcolare il raggio di [...]
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