US News and World Report (USNWR) ranking of the top ten universities in mathematics are: 1. Berkeley ; 2. Stanford ; 3. Princeton ; 4. UCLA ; 5. University of Oxford ; 6. Harvard ; 7. King Abdulaziz University ; 8. Pierre and Marie Curie – Paris 6 ; 9. University of Hong Kong ; 10. University of Cambridge [more inside]
Tim Gowers has announced a series of arXiv overlay journals called the Episciences Project that aim to exclude existing publishers from research publication in mathematics. As arXiv overlays, the Episciences Project avoids the editing and typesetting costs that existing open-access journals pay for using article processing charges. The French Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe (CCSD) is backing the remaining expenses, such as developing the platform. [more inside]
Danica McKellar —the former star of The Wonder Years—has her own web site. It's got a great feature where she answers your math questions. No, really. She's got a degree in mathematics and co-authored a paper on percolation and Ashkin-Teller models. No, really.
Hypothesis as thought-crime...Now, however, a new brouhaha has erupted [at Harvard]and it seems impossible that Summers [the president]will emerge from this one without serious erosion of his moral authority. The trigger was a statement he made at a conference, suggesting that the reason there are more men than women in the mathematical sciences at top-flight institutions has to do with a small statistical difference in inate ability, which becomes a pretty large disparity when one looks at the 'high end' of the respective distribution curves... The fatal words did not set forth his main theme, but merely constituted a brief aside, thoroughly hedged and qualified. Nonetheless, they touched off a firestorm of indignation, the most striking aspect of which was the intemperate response of a number of feminist scientists, who offered no counter-arguments, but simply declared the whole idea misogynistic and therefore forbidden intellectual territory.
The mathematician Anatoly Fomenko is one of a number of Russian academics advancing revisionist chronologies which portray a greatly foreshortened view of European history. He argues that mediaeval and classical histories as we know them today were fabricated in Renaissance times. In his book 'History: Fiction or Science', he 'proves' that Jesus Christ was born in 1053 and crucified in 1086, and that the Old Testament refers to mediaeval events... Fomenko's theories have been debunked, but his ideas have nevertheless gained some currency in Russia: among his supporters is the former chess champion Garry Kasparov. Of course, Fomenko is by no means the first mathematician to grapple with the subject of chronology: indeed, any history must be founded in part on a calculus of dates... Are there any parallels, I wonder, between the spread of theories like Fomenko's and the renewed prevalence of Biblical chronologies in the US, for example: is there some kind of psychological solace in perceiving history on a smaller scale than current academic orthodoxy allows? (more inside).