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What would happen if a cue ball struck a rack of 15 perfectly round, frictionless billiard balls, exactly head-on?

posted by escabeche on Feb 3, 2014 - 31 comments

posted by escabeche on Feb 3, 2014 - 31 comments

Paperscape is a searchable 2-dimensional visualization of the 800,000+ scientific papers (mostly in physics and math) on the arXiv preprint server.

posted by escabeche on Aug 18, 2013 - 20 comments

posted by escabeche on Aug 18, 2013 - 20 comments

The 300th issue of This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics will be the last. It is not an exaggeration to say that when John Baez started publishing TWF in 1993, he invented the science blog, and an (academic) generation has now grown up reading his thoughts on higher category theory, zeta functions, quantum gravity, crazy pictures of roots of polynomials, science fiction, and everything else that can loosely be called either "mathematical" or "physics."
Baez continues to blog actively at n-category cafe and the associated nLab (an intriguingly fermented commune of mathematicians, physicists, and philosophers.) He is now starting a new blog, Azimuth, "centered around the theme of *what scientists can do to help save the planet*."

posted by escabeche on Aug 14, 2010 - 17 comments

posted by escabeche on Aug 14, 2010 - 17 comments

"Take a little bad psychology, add a dash of bad philosophy and ethics, and liberal quantities of bad logic, and any economist can prove that the demand curve for a commodity is negatively inclined." MIT economist Andrew Lo and string theorist turned asset manager Mark Mueller on the "physics envy" that plagues economics, and how to stop worrying and love uncertainty.

posted by escabeche on Apr 1, 2010 - 37 comments

posted by escabeche on Apr 1, 2010 - 37 comments

"...the best place to hide bulls**t is in a refereed journal thatâ€™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

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