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"...the best place to hide bulls**t is in a refereed journal that’s not open-access!" The math-physics blog n-category cafe digs into the curious case of M.S. El Naschie. El Naschie is editor-in-chief of the journal Chaos, Solitons, and Fractals, published by the well-respected scientific publisher Elsevier and sold to academic libraries for US$4,520 a year. The problem? El Naschie has published 322 of his own papers in the journal -- papers that John Baez (of "This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics" and "The Crackpot Index") describes as "vague, dreamlike imagery," "undisciplined numerology larded with impressive buzzwords," and "total baloney." Is El Naschie a reverse Sokal? Or a Markov process for producing random publishable papers? One thing's for sure -- he knows how to cure cancer.

posted by escabeche on Nov 12, 2008 - 49 comments

posted by escabeche on Nov 12, 2008 - 49 comments

A math professor was explaining a particularly complicated calculus concept to his class when a frustrated pre-med student interrupts him. "Why do we have to learn this stuff?" the pre-med blurts out. The professor pauses, and answers matter-of-factly: "Because math saves lives." "How?" demanded the student. "How on Earth does calculus save lives?" "Because," replied the professor, "it keeps certain people out of medical school."

posted by cthuljew on Nov 9, 2008 - 82 comments

posted by cthuljew on Nov 9, 2008 - 82 comments

"Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems."

Started in 2001 as a sub-section of Maths Challenge, it has since grown large enough to become its own entity. It now boasts over 200 problems, many of them insanely difficult. [more inside]

posted by mystyk on Oct 13, 2008 - 31 comments

Started in 2001 as a sub-section of Maths Challenge, it has since grown large enough to become its own entity. It now boasts over 200 problems, many of them insanely difficult. [more inside]

posted by mystyk on Oct 13, 2008 - 31 comments

posted by cog_nate on Oct 1, 2008 - 9 comments

Quest for a true 3D Mandelbrot Fractal - a very nice exploration of Mandelbrot/Julia set fractals in various kinds of 3D space.

posted by loquacious on Sep 14, 2008 - 21 comments

posted by loquacious on Sep 14, 2008 - 21 comments

Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth. How children learn (or: don't learn) math today. [more inside]

posted by davar on Sep 6, 2008 - 130 comments

posted by davar on Sep 6, 2008 - 130 comments

MEFIEach letter corresponds to a number 0-9. The solution is unique. [more inside]

META

+ ASKME

-------

FILTER

posted by Upton O'Good on Sep 3, 2008 - 27 comments

Who is Alexander Grothendieck? [PDF] *This lecture is concerned not with Grothendieck's mathematics but with his very unusual life on the fringes of human society. In particular, there is, on the one hand, the question of why at the age of forty-two Grothendieck first of all resigned his professorship at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES); then withdrew from mathematics completely; and finally broke off all connections to his colleagues, students, acquaintances, friends, as well as his own family, to live as a hermit in an unknown place. On the other hand, one would like to know what has occupied this restless and creative spirit since his withdrawal from mathematics.*

posted by Wolfdog on Aug 17, 2008 - 31 comments

posted by Wolfdog on Aug 17, 2008 - 31 comments

How deep does the rabbit hole go? The Ultimate Fractal Video Project features animated zooms into the famous Mandelbrot Set. Some zoom in so far that, by the end of the dive, the first frame you had viewed would be as large as (or larger than) the known universe. | The animations are offered as .zip'd WMV files; lower-quality versions are viewable on FractAlkemist's YouTube page. [more inside]

posted by not_on_display on Jul 29, 2008 - 13 comments

posted by not_on_display on Jul 29, 2008 - 13 comments

No gender differences found in math performance. None. Not on average, at least in countries where the sexes are treated equally. And no, not at the highest, outlier levels of mathematical ability, either, despite what some believe.
And not in number of undergrad math degrees earned. And not in terms of complex problem solving ability. Just plain not.

posted by kyrademon on Jul 24, 2008 - 103 comments

posted by kyrademon on Jul 24, 2008 - 103 comments

This week in mathematical physics, John Baez looks at the amazing tile patterns in the Alhambra in Granada, dividing the patterns into their characteristic Wallpaper Groups based on their symmetries. And if these patterns aren't good enough for you, try drawing your own with the Escher Web Sketch tool. [more inside]

posted by kiltedtaco on Jul 24, 2008 - 20 comments

posted by kiltedtaco on Jul 24, 2008 - 20 comments

Correlative Analytics -- or as O'Reilly might term the Social Graph -- sort of mirrors the debate on 'brute force' algorithmic proofs (that are "true for no reason," cf.) in which "computers can extract patterns in this ocean of data that no human could ever possibly detect. These patterns are correlations. They may or may not be causative, but we can learn new things. Therefore they accomplish what science does, although not in the traditional manner... In this part of science, we may get answers that work, but which we don't understand. Is this partial understanding? Or a different kind of understanding?" Of course, say some in the scientific community: hogwash; it's just a fabrication of scientifically/statistically illiterate pundits, like whilst new techniques in data analysis are being developed to help keep ahead of the deluge...

posted by kliuless on Jul 21, 2008 - 40 comments

posted by kliuless on Jul 21, 2008 - 40 comments

A discovery leads to questions about whether the odds of people sharing genetic profiles are sometimes higher than portrayed. Calling the finding meaningless, the FBI has sought to block such inquiry.

posted by finite on Jul 20, 2008 - 30 comments

posted by finite on Jul 20, 2008 - 30 comments

EducationFilter: California becomes the first state to mandate all 8th graders take Algebra; in part because U.S. students constantly trail their peers from other nations in mathematics. At least one person thinks it's a bad idea ("If only 25 percent of this nation ever earns a college degree, why insist that all children take algebra in eighth grade?"). Here's the algebra curriculum 8th graders will have to learn. [more inside]

posted by jabberjaw on Jul 10, 2008 - 124 comments

posted by jabberjaw on Jul 10, 2008 - 124 comments

Whether you want to learn to lace shoes, tie shoelaces, stop shoelaces from coming undone, calculate shoelace lengths or even repair aglets, Ian's Shoelace Site has the answer!

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jun 27, 2008 - 22 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jun 27, 2008 - 22 comments

A new crop circle formation in Wiltshire depicts the first 10 digits of *pi*. [more inside]

posted by casarkos on Jun 20, 2008 - 96 comments

posted by casarkos on Jun 20, 2008 - 96 comments

The hyperbolic crochet coral reef has come to London. [more inside]

posted by chuckdarwin on Jun 17, 2008 - 14 comments

posted by chuckdarwin on Jun 17, 2008 - 14 comments

Friday ~~Flash~~ Java Fun - 'Building Houses With Side Views' Entertaining Java game/exercise/doodad. [more inside]

posted by le morte de bea arthur on Jun 13, 2008 - 31 comments

posted by le morte de bea arthur on Jun 13, 2008 - 31 comments

Smart Shorties is a new CD being marketed to teachers that takes the beats from popular rap songs and rewrites them to the multiplication tables, with the intent of improving kids' math skills. Forbes has a nice roundup on it's history, and NPR has done a featurette on it as well At the very least, it's certainly worth a listen for the chuckle potential, but in addition to that, it's an interesting example of the now-booming Edutainment industry, something that not only spans CD's, but also computer games and even standalone video game consoles.

also, Smart Shorties is certainly not the only "Hip-hop in the classroom" product out there, nor is it the first.

posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew on Jun 8, 2008 - 37 comments

also, Smart Shorties is certainly not the only "Hip-hop in the classroom" product out there, nor is it the first.

posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew on Jun 8, 2008 - 37 comments

Exercising your brain makes you smarter, and there is no better gym for it than the MentatWiki. [more inside]

posted by splice on May 17, 2008 - 16 comments

posted by splice on May 17, 2008 - 16 comments

On May 13, security advisories published by Debian and Ubuntu revealed that, for over a year, their OpenSSL libraries have had a major flaw in their CSPRNG, which is used by key generation functions in many widely-used applications, which caused the "random" numbers produced to be extremely predictable. [lolcat summary] [more inside]

posted by finite on May 16, 2008 - 81 comments

posted by finite on May 16, 2008 - 81 comments

A new study in Science claims that teaching math is better done by teaching the abstract concepts rather than using concrete examples. From an article by the study authors in Science Mag (requires subscription):
*If a goal of teaching mathematics is to produce knowledge that students can apply to multiple situations, then presenting mathematical concepts through generic instantiations, such as traditional symbolic notation, may be more effective than a series of "good examples." This is not to say that educational design should not incorporate contextualized examples. What we are suggesting is that grounding mathematics deeply in concrete contexts can potentially limit its applicability. Students might be better able to generalize mathematical concepts to various situations if the concepts have been introduced with the use of generic instantiations.
*

posted by peacheater on Apr 26, 2008 - 27 comments

posted by peacheater on Apr 26, 2008 - 27 comments

“…if I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of *destroying* a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern-making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done — I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with the kind of senseless, soul-crushing ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education.” [more inside]

posted by blasdelf on Apr 10, 2008 - 79 comments

posted by blasdelf on Apr 10, 2008 - 79 comments

The Monty Hall Problem has struck again, and this time it’s not merely embarrassing mathematicians. If the calculations of a Yale economist are correct, there’s a sneaky logical fallacy in some of the most famous experiments in psychology." The NY Times' John Tierney reports on new research into cognitive dissonance as examined through the famous Monty Hall Problem. [A previous MetaFilter thread about the Monty Hall Problem: Let's Make A Deal!]

posted by amyms on Apr 8, 2008 - 119 comments

posted by amyms on Apr 8, 2008 - 119 comments

"Once you've constructed your Hexapawn opponent, it's time to start playing against it... If you play this game repeatedly ... you'll quickly notice that your matchbox opponent plays better and better until it is unbeatable!" Martin Gardner created a game called Hexapawn, and also devised an artificially intelligent opponent you can build yourself out of matchboxes and colored beads. Bonus link: An interview with Martin Gardner.

posted by Fuzzy Skinner on Apr 1, 2008 - 17 comments

posted by Fuzzy Skinner on Apr 1, 2008 - 17 comments

Did you know that you can create a simple set of directions to your house that works *no matter where the recipient starts from?* After 38 years this remarkable conjecture has now been proved by a 63-year old former security guard.

posted by unSane on Mar 21, 2008 - 46 comments

posted by unSane on Mar 21, 2008 - 46 comments

The connection between mathematics and music is often touted in awed, mysterious tones, but it is grounded in hard-headed science. For example, mathematical principles underlie the organization of Western music into 12-note scales. And even a beginning piano student encounters geometry in the "circle of fifths" when learning the fundamentals of music theory. ...according to Dmitri Tymoczko, a composer and music theorist at Princeton University, these well-known connections reveal only a few threads of the hefty rope that binds music and math.The Geometry of Music

See also The Geometry of Musical Chords - Dmitri Tymoczko, Science 7 July 2006: Abstract

See also Dmitri Tymoczko, Composer and Music Theoristvia [more inside]

posted by y2karl on Mar 16, 2008 - 29 comments

The Amen Break and the Golden Ratio by mathematics educator and author, Michael S. Schneider. Schneider, having already researched and written about the golden ratio extensively, noticed it right away when hearing the the amen break for the first time (amen break previously on the blue). While some composers have been known to intentionally incorporate fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio into their works, perhaps this is just another one of the many instances of the ratio showing up in nature.

posted by p3t3 on Mar 12, 2008 - 27 comments

posted by p3t3 on Mar 12, 2008 - 27 comments

If you could use a great big free handbook of discrete math and algorithms, Jörg Arndt's fxtbook wants to be your friend. Plain text table of contents to whet your appetite.

posted by Wolfdog on Mar 5, 2008 - 11 comments

posted by Wolfdog on Mar 5, 2008 - 11 comments

Free math courses online, from very basic to brainiac. [more inside]

posted by nickyskye on Feb 26, 2008 - 19 comments

posted by nickyskye on Feb 26, 2008 - 19 comments

Fun and games with mathematics and mathematical puzzles (e.g. heart basket, Rubik's Cube, Rubik's Magic, hypercubes, and more) in both English and (with yet more content in) German.

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 18, 2008 - 6 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 18, 2008 - 6 comments

The man who runs xkcd

has created the LimerickDB.

Though often quite dirty

There are more that are nerdy;

If you check out the best ones, you'll see.

posted by kyleg on Feb 5, 2008 - 88 comments

has created the LimerickDB.

Though often quite dirty

There are more that are nerdy;

If you check out the best ones, you'll see.

posted by kyleg on Feb 5, 2008 - 88 comments

Basic Concepts in Science: A List A regularly updated list of blog entries explaining the basics of science and mathematics.

posted by LeeJay on Jan 25, 2008 - 16 comments

posted by LeeJay on Jan 25, 2008 - 16 comments

A Visual Dictionary of Famous Plane Curves is an outstanding resource for curves found in nature, man-made objects, and mathematics. Other websites that list exotically named curves also animate how they are created. One of the most unusually named curves, the “Witch of Agnesi”, has an unusual etymology. A number of these curves will be familiar to anyone who has used a Spirograph. Previously.

posted by Tube on Jan 19, 2008 - 13 comments

posted by Tube on Jan 19, 2008 - 13 comments

MATSYS Based on the idea that architecture can be understood as a material body with its own intrinsic and extrinsic forces relating to form, growth, and behavior, the studio investigates methodologies of performative integration through geometric and material differentiation.

B_Complex, N_Table, Endless Ocean, Endless Sky (more), P_Wall. more.

posted by klangklangston on Jan 18, 2008 - 6 comments

B_Complex, N_Table, Endless Ocean, Endless Sky (more), P_Wall. more.

posted by klangklangston on Jan 18, 2008 - 6 comments

Lightning calculator and "mathemagician" Art Benjamin goes through his paces in a 15 minute video.

posted by Wolfdog on Dec 19, 2007 - 32 comments

posted by Wolfdog on Dec 19, 2007 - 32 comments

Ever wondered if and where a specific set of numbers could be found in pi? Maybe you'd like to know where your birthday is? Or maybe just something funny. [prev. here, here] [more inside]

posted by TimeTravelSpeed on Dec 4, 2007 - 68 comments

posted by TimeTravelSpeed on Dec 4, 2007 - 68 comments

Nowhere-neat tilings are actually pretty neat. We all know you can't "square the circle", but do you know the story of squaring the square? (And by the way, even if you can't construct π with a ruler and compass, you can come awfully close without too much work.)

posted by Wolfdog on Dec 4, 2007 - 10 comments

posted by Wolfdog on Dec 4, 2007 - 10 comments

Interactive mathematics miscellany and puzzles, including 75 proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem, an interactive column using Java applets, and eye-opening demonstrations. (Actually, much more.)

posted by parudox on Dec 1, 2007 - 11 comments

posted by parudox on Dec 1, 2007 - 11 comments

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” (RealVideo) Al Bartlett, retired University of Colorado Professor of Physics, gives a stunning hour-long old-school lecture (overhead projector!) on exponential growth and its inevitable results. [more inside]

posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Nov 20, 2007 - 83 comments

posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Nov 20, 2007 - 83 comments

Symmetry. Shakespeare. Islamic medicine. Creative writing challenges. Four podcast series from University of Warwick.

posted by Wolfdog on Nov 18, 2007 - 2 comments

posted by Wolfdog on Nov 18, 2007 - 2 comments

Open Text Book: a blog which lists freely-available online textbooks. [more inside]

posted by Upton O'Good on Oct 25, 2007 - 12 comments

posted by Upton O'Good on Oct 25, 2007 - 12 comments

No, I'm sorry, it does. There are some arguments that never end. John or Paul? "Another thing coming" or "Another think coming?" But none has the staying power of "Is 0.999999...., with the 9s repeating forever, equal to 1?" A high school math teacher takes on all doubters. Round 2. Round 3. Refutations of some popular "They're not equal" arguments. Refutations, round 2. You don't have to a mathematician to get in on the fun: .99999=1 discussed on a conspiracy theory website, an Ayn Rand website (where it is accused to violating the "law of identity"), and a World of Warcraft forum. But never, as far as I can tell, on MetaFilter.

posted by escabeche on Sep 30, 2007 - 256 comments

posted by escabeche on Sep 30, 2007 - 256 comments

Worried about inaccuracies in Wikipedia? Try Scholarpedia, a peer-reviewed encyclopedia, with articles written by experts in their field. [more inside]

posted by Upton O'Good on Sep 27, 2007 - 26 comments

posted by Upton O'Good on Sep 27, 2007 - 26 comments

More than fifty selected articles from *The Princeton Companion of Mathematics* (username: *Guest*, password: *PCM*) — a thematically-organized compendium of mathematics and mathematicians from Fields Medal-winner Tim Gowers. [via, previously]

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 27, 2007 - 8 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 27, 2007 - 8 comments

The Marquis de Condorcet and Admiral Jean-Charles de Borda were two men of the French Enlightenment who struggled with how to design voting systems that accurately reflected voters' preferences. Condorcet favored a method that required the winner in a multiparty election to win a series of head-to-head contests, but he also discovered that his method easily led to a paradoxes that produced no clear winners. The Borda method avoids the Condorcet paradox by requiring voters to rank choices numerically in order of preference, but this method is flawed because the withdrawal of a last-place candidate can reverse the election results. Mathematicians in the 19th century attempted to design better voting systems, including Lewis Carroll, who favored an early form of proportional representation. Economist Kenneth Arrow argued that designing a perfect voting system was futile, because his "impossibility theorem" proved that it's impossible to design a non-dictatorial voting system that fulfills five basic criteria of fairness. (more inside)

posted by jonp72 on Aug 27, 2007 - 43 comments

posted by jonp72 on Aug 27, 2007 - 43 comments

Even experts don't know what (3 and 3/16ths) times 20 is. But it has something to do with square roots and kinetic energy. [single link to excellent youtube deposition]

posted by orthogonality on Aug 17, 2007 - 83 comments

posted by orthogonality on Aug 17, 2007 - 83 comments

Mathematicians solve the 75-year-old Möbius mystery.

posted by nevercalm on Jul 17, 2007 - 29 comments

posted by nevercalm on Jul 17, 2007 - 29 comments