...a companion blog to "Math-Frolic," specifically for interviews, book reviews, weekly-linkfests, and longer posts or commentary than usually found at the Math-Frolic site.

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"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show." ---Bertrand Russell (1907) Rob Gluck

"I have come to believe, though very reluctantly, that it [mathematics] consists of tautologies. I fear that, to a mind of sufficient intellectual power, the whole of mathematics would appear trivial, as trivial as the statement that a four-legged animal is an animal." ---Bertrand Russell (1957)

******************************************************************** Rob Gluck

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Plentiful Potpourri


Lotsa leftovers that didn't make it into Math-Frolic this week (probably be even more today, but this list is already long enough):

1)  A "near-miss" in mathematics (a constructed polyhedron that doesn't exist; h/t Patrick Honner):
http://isohedral.ca/a-new-near-miss/

2)  Andrew Gelman, pessimistically, on the 'too big to fail' problem of journal retractions:
http://andrewgelman.com/2016/02/22/its-too-hard-to-publish-criticisms-and-obtain-data-for-replication/

Near the end he writes:"So unfortunately I don’t think it’s possible. Reform would be great, post-publication review is great, but I think we just have to give up on retraction. The system is just too big to fail." And he compares previously published work as "potentially a junk bond supported by toxic loans and you shouldn’t rely on it."

3)  This week, Quanta Magazine (in a tweet) passed along a link to these animated math videos:
http://www.3blue1brown.com/

4)  Maria Popova (of "Brainpickings") paying tribute to mathematics this week:
https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/02/22/james-joseph-sylvester-mathematics-address/

5)  Dave Finkel TEDTalk video (recommended by James Tanton) on math education:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytVneQUA5-c

6)  Probability and coincidences in the popular press (interesting Atlantic piece):
http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/02/the-true-meaning-of-coincidences/463164/

7)  Andrew Gelman again, this time looking at some statistics in the press being mangled (I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you!) re: Valentine's Day spending:
http://andrewgelman.com/2016/02/24/29068/

8)  A little update on Zipf's Law:
http://phys.org/news/2016-02-mathematical-law-gutenberg-texts.html

9)  Solving the Kadison-Singer problem by bridging disciplines:
http://www.wnyc.org/story/how-outsiders-cracked-50-year-math-mystery/

10)  Bertrand's Paradox has been written about many times; what I found intriguing in this post  though is the very last "Final remark," almost off-handedly mentioning that the author was working on yet another possible solution to the 3 that are usually given:
http://thatsmaths.com/2016/02/25/bertrands-chord-problem/

11)  h/t to Cathy O'Neil for highlighting this interesting-looking new book of math essays:
http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-21473-3
(Cathy's post here:  http://tinyurl.com/zvfhrbu )

12)
Some 'bamboozlers' with ping pong balls and infinity:
https://plus.maths.org/content/ping-pong-balls-and-super-powers

13) 
You say you've mastered Rubik's Cube... well, take it a notch up with Sudoku Cube (h/t Cliff Pickover):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudoku_Cube

14) 
Samuel Hansen's "Relatively Prime" podcast is seeking funding for a 3rd successful season of mathematical stories (just couple of wks. left on Kickstarter campaign):
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/386612592/relatively-prime-season-3
(check it out!)

15) 
Perhaps quantum computing can wait... an NP-complete problem solved using biology!:
http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/02/np-complete-problem-solved-with-biological-motors/

16) 
I'll finish out, venturing over to physics again, with Brian Greene explaining gravitational waves to Stephen Colbert (quite good actually):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajZojAwfEbs&feature=youtu.be


Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest):

1) 
The brave new world of Google and Facebook...:
https://aeon.co/essays/how-the-internet-flips-elections-and-alters-our-thoughts

2) 
If you missed this story from NPR about the "Jolly Roger Telephone Company," well you ought give it a listen (I'd call it a feel-good story):
http://www.npr.org/2016/02/25/468149405/jolly-roger-telephone-company-uses-software-to-entrap-telemarketers

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