Friday, December 25, 2009

Do Computers Understand Art?

ScienceDaily (Dec. 25, 2009) — A team of researchers has shown that some mathematical algorithms provide clues about the artistic style of a painting. The composition of colours or certain aesthetic measurements can already be quantified by a computer, but machines are still far from being able to interpret art in the way that people do.

How does one place an artwork in a particular artistic period?

The researchers have shown that certain artificial vision algorithms mean a computer can be programmed to "understand" an image and differentiate between artistic styles based on low-level pictorial information. Human classification strategies, however, include medium and high-level concepts.

Read more....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Are Computers Blinding Our Perception?

...Computers have become an extension of us: that is a commonplace now. But in an important way we may be becoming an extension of them, in turn. Computers are digital — that is, they turn everything into numbers; that is their way of seeing. And in the computer age we may be living through the digitization of our minds, even when they are offline: a slow-burning quantification of human affairs that promises or threatens, depending on your outlook, to crowd out other categories of the imagination, other ways of perceiving.

Welcome to the Age of Metrics — or to the End of Instinct. Metrics are everywhere. It is increasingly with them that we decide what to read, what stocks to buy, which poor people to feed, which athletes to recruit, which films and restaurants to try. World Metrics Day was declared for the first time this year.

The once-mysterious formation of tastes is becoming a quantitative science, as services like Netflix and Pandora and StumbleUpon deploy algorithms to predict, and shape, what we like to watch, listen to and read.

Read more....

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Math Goes Viral in the Classroom With
the West Nile Virus

ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2009) — At least a dozen Alberta high-school calculus classrooms were exposed to the West Nile virus recently.

Luckily, however, it wasn't literally the illness. University of Alberta education professor Stephen Norris and mathematics professor Gerda de Vries used the virus as a theoretical tool when they designed materials for use in an advanced high-school math course. The materials allow students to use mathematical concepts learned in their curriculum to determine the disease's reproductive number, which determines the likelihood of a disease spreading.

"This piece was designed to satisfy an optional unit in Math 31 (Calculus), for which there are no materials, so we said, 'let's fill the gap,'" said Norris. "These materials show a real application of mathematics in the biology curriculum for high-school students."

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are Our Brains Constantly Making Subconscious Calculations?

Our brain is wired to perform calculations that let us judge how far away an object is when we walk or jump around or reach for a container of milk. Although this task may seem easy, it turns out that calculating depth is surprisingly complex.

When we look at an object, our eyes project the three-dimensional structure onto a two-dimensional retina. To see the three dimensions, our brain must reconstruct the three-dimensional world from our two-dimensional retinal images. We have learned to judge depth using a variety of visual cues, some involving just one eye (monocular vision) and others involving both eyes (binocular vision).

Read more....

Corresponding Article!

Computers Based on Brains?

Your brain is doing some amazing calculations as you read these words. Not only are your recognising the letters, the upright and top cross of the 'T', but you are also understanding what they mean. Imagine if you could build a computer with the same kinds of skills? Computer Scientists are looking at how our brains work to build better machines. One area where people are far better than current technology is in seeing. Around half your brain is estimated to be involved in processing some type of information from your eyes.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baby brains are hard-wired for math

Experiment indicates that infants recognize apparent errors in subtraction.

Next time someone complains about arithmetic being hard, math lovers can defend themselves by saying "even a 6-month-old can do it."

Through monitoring the brains of infants, researchers confirmed that infants as early as 6 months in age can detect mathematical errors, putting to rest a debate that has gone on for over a decade.

A team of scientists from the United States and Israel exposed 24 infants to a videotaped puppet show. They used the puppets for addition and subtraction while observing the reaction of the babies.

For example, they started the show with two dolls. Before the show ended, a doll was removed and then the infant's vision was blocked with a screen. When the screen was taken away, either one doll was left, as expected, or two dolls, which would not be mathematically correct.

The infants looked at the screen longer (8.04 seconds) when the number of dolls was two, which did not agree with the solution of 2 – 1 = 1.

Read more....

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The 7 Wonders Of The Ancient World: Mathmatician's Idea?

The man who created the idea to have 7 wonders of the world was the Byzantine Mathematician Philon. When not creating amazingly complicated math formulas, he would travel the lands in search for monuments of beauty. He traveled nearly, all the lands that were known at that time. He wrote on a piece of paper “De Septem Orbis Spectaculis”(the seven wonders of the world). Here were his seven. This was around 150 years before the birth of Christ.

Read all 7 here....

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Math Behind the Characteristic Shape of a Long Leaf Revealed

ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2009) — Applied mathematicians dissected the morphology of the plantain lily (Hosta lancifolia), a characteristic long leaf with a saddle-like arc midsection and closely packed ripples along the edges. The simple cause of the lily's fan-like shape -- elastic relaxation resulting from bending during differential growth -- was revealed by using an equally simple technique, stretching foam ribbons.

"These blades have rippled edges when they grow in slowly moving water. When they are transplanted to environments that have rapidly moving water, they generate new blades which are much narrower," says Mahadevan. "This example of phenotypic plasticity, or the ability of the algae to change their shape in response to environmental forces, led to a paper co-authored with Koehl and Silk last year that focused primarily on the experimental findings."

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eureka! A Theater Play About Math?

When Marshfield math teacher Jean Kelley suggested last year that her friend Spring Sirkin produce a play about mathematics, Sirkin was skeptical.

“I didn’t think math concepts would naturally lend themselves to dramatic situations,’’ said Sirkin, whose Boston-based Chamber Theatre Productions tours the country with plays that support middle and high school instruction.

“We’ve always focused on the literature curriculum,’’ Sirkin said. “But we constantly ask teachers for feedback on what they’re reading and what they need help with. We were looking for something a little different, and when we polled teachers across the country, they overwhelmingly asked for a math play.’’

With Kelley as her consultant, Sirkin put out a call last spring to several play wrights to see what they might come up with. “Eureka!’’ by Shaun Wainwright-Branigan, jumped out at her right away.

Read more....

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Heads or tails? It all depends on some key - but unknown - variables

Physorg - Everyone knows the flip of a coin is a 50-50 proposition. Only it's not. You can beat the odds. So says a three-person team of Stanford and UC-Santa Cruz researchers. They produced a provocative study that turns conventional wisdom, well, on its head for anyone who has ever settled a minor dispute with a simple coin toss.

It also could have profound implications in America's favorite sport -- pro football -- because the coin flip plays an integral role in deciding games that go into overtime.

But first, here's what the researchers concluded: Using a high-speed camera that photographed people flipping coins, the three researchers determined that a coin is more likely to land facing the same side on which it started. If tails is facing up when the coin is perched on your thumb, it is more likely to land tails up.

Read more....

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Fraction of History

- An extensive treatment of fractions appeared around 1600 B.C. in the Rhind Papyrus, which contained the work of Egyptians mathematicians.

The Egyptians did not express fractions as ratios such as 2:5 or 2/5.

They expressed ratios in unit fractions.

Egyptians used their symbols to represent this fraction.
1/3 + 1/15 would be represented as shown below:


Notice that all we care about is the man's feet. Feet pointing toward the direction of writing means add. Otherwise, it means subtract...

Read more....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Math Model May Speed Healing of Chronic Wounds

Victims of permanent, sometimes fatal wounds may receive hope from a new mathematical model published by researchers at Ohio State University.

Ischemic wounds, which arise from conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, heal extremely slowly―if at all―and may result in loss of limb or even death. Inadequate blood supply in the affected area decreases the amount of oxygen and proteins that reaches the lesions, essential components of the healing process.

The model, a system of partial differential equations, uses some data from animal studies, but also includes values the researchers assigned to the various cells and chemicals in wound healing. Chuan Xue, a postdoctoral researcher in Ohio State's Mathematical Biosciences Institute, helped the team calculate numerical coefficients for oxygen concentration, the concentration of growth factors, density of white blood cells, density of fibroblasts, and density of tips and sprouts of new blood vessels.

Read more....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For Decades, Puzzling People With Mathematics

For today’s mathematical puzzle, assume that in the year 1956 there was a children’s magazine in New York named after a giant egg, Humpty Dumpty, who purportedly served as its chief editor.

Mr. Dumpty was assisted by a human editor named Martin Gardner, who prepared “activity features” and wrote a monthly short story about the adventures of the child egg, Humpty Dumpty Jr. Another duty of Mr. Gardner’s was to write a monthly poem of moral advice from Humpty Sr. to Humpty Jr.

At that point, Mr. Gardner was 42 and had never taken a math course beyond high school. He had struggled with calculus and considered himself poor at solving basic mathematical puzzles, let alone creating them. But when the publisher of Scientific American asked him if there might be enough material for a monthly column on “recreational mathematics,” a term that sounded even more oxymoronic in 1956 than it does today, Mr. Gardner took a gamble.

He quit his job with Humpty Dumpty.

On Wednesday, Mr. Gardner will celebrate his 95th birthday with the publication of another book — his second book of essays and mathematical puzzles to be published just this year. With more than 70 books to his name, he is the world’s best-known recreational mathematician, and has probably introduced more people to the joys of math than anyone in history.

How is this possible?

Read more....

Tuzki Bunny Emoticon Emotional Bunny says: "OMG! I finished his book before I was 15, and I never knew! I thought for sure he had majored in math or something similar, but alas it appears he majored in philosophy....."
The Al Gore Rhythm

Here is a really interesting trick to multiplying large numbers in your head, and quickly.....

"Here’s the “mystery algorithm” for 26 * 31, or any other set of two-digit numbers.
Keep in mind that the description is much longer than the problem should take. After a little practice, it should take no longer than 10 seconds to do a problem like this in your head."

Read the method here

"....One more thing. Although this method beats the pickles out most methods, doing something as simple as 26 x 31 only requires that you multiply 26 by 3 in your head (any 3rd grader should really be able to do that, if we didn’t treat them like simps), stick a 0 at the end. That’s 780. Mentally add 26 to that, and Bob’s your uncle." MY SIDE NOTE: To use this trick when the second number (31) has a ones digit greater than one (say 37, rather than 31), simply multiply 26 by the ones digit number (7), and then add that number to your original 780. ;)

Read more....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Math + Comics = Logicomix!

The global success of Logicomix, a new graphic novel from Greece, wouldn't seem so unusual if it weren't for the comic book's unlikely subject matter: logic and mathematics.

Originally published in Greek in the fall of 2008, the math comic book "Logicomix" was a hit at home, but its authors were unprepared for the reception in the United States and Britain, where it sold out on the first day of its release in September.

Mathematics theory hardly sounds like a fitting theme for a comic book, but a new graphic novel from Greece about math in early 20th century Europe has become an unlikely hit, topping bestseller lists in the United States and Britain.

"Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth" follows British philosopher, logician and pacifist Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) in his tortuous quest for the foundations of mathematics, and his search for logic as a shield from the insanity that consumed other members of his family.

The story uses his relationships with the great thinkers and mathematicians of the era, two of his four marriages and historical events in Europe such as the rise of Nazism as a backdrop for the novel's more abstract and philosophical subject matter.

Read more....

Friday, October 9, 2009

Discovery Overturns Long-held Theory About Our Biological Clocks

ScienceDaily (Oct. 9, 2009) — University of Michigan mathematicians and their British colleagues say they have identified the signal that the brain sends to the rest of the body to control biological rhythms, a finding that overturns a long-held theory about our internal clock.

...For decades, researchers have believed that it is the rate at which SCN cells fire electrical pulses---fast during the day and slow at night---that controls time-keeping throughout the body, much like a metronome.

That's the idea that has prevailed for more than two decades. But new evidence compiled by Forger and his colleagues shows that "the old model is, frankly, wrong," Forger said.

The true signaling mechanism is very different: The timing signal sent from the SCN is encoded in a complex firing pattern that had previously been overlooked, the researchers concluded...

Read more....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Using art to illuminate math

Cos Cob School art teacher Susan Striker has always considered herself "math phobic."

As a grade-school student, Striker hated having to go to math class, detested the homework and dreaded the quizzes. And as an art teacher, math has long been among the furthest topics from her mind.

So when Cos Cob's principal, Kimberly Beck, recently handed her a copy of the school's math curriculum and pointed out how much it overlapped with her art lessons, Striker was at first incredulous.

....The focal point of that project is a new art display in the school's second-floor hallway where Striker has posted prints of favorite artworks alongside banners that hail the mathematical concept each illustrates.

For instance, an Andy Warhol painting of the pop artist's image reproduced in various color schemes on a calendar-like grid illustrates the concept of an "array," which is used at the school to teach to multiplication and division.

Read more....

SPECIAL! More Art-to-Math articles here:


Scientists make music into mathematical shapes

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Shuffling Math

Using math, a magician can figure out how to find one card in a deck or how many times to shuffle the deck to really mix it up.

....It all got started when Bayer saw Diaconis perform a magic trick. Diaconis started with a deck of cards with each suit in perfect order, ace through king. He handed the deck to someone in the audience. Cut and shuffle the deck three times, he said, and then look at the top card without showing anyone.

“I’m sure you’ll agree that no living human could know the value of that card,” Diaconis declared grandly.

Then Diaconis asked the audience member to insert that card anywhere in the deck and cut and shuffle it a final time.

Finally, he spread the cards face up in a wide arc on the table, stared for several long moments, and plucked out the right card.

“How did you do it?” Bayer asked in amazement.

Diaconis winked at Bayer and, since he was a friend, explained how it worked – once the two were alone. Diaconis put the deck in order again and cut the deck and shuffled the cards once. Then he spread the cards out on the table, face up.

Read more....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Who Knew Foreign Affairs Required So Much Math?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Do your eyes glaze over when foreign policy wonks start talking about the "six-party" talks, the G-7 plus one, the 26 plus nine? (Okay, we made the last one up.)

Sometimes the numbers make obvious sense. For example, the "two plus four" talks on German reunification two decades ago were straightforward enough. That stood for East and West Germany plus the four post-World War II occupying powers -- the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union.

Other numerals are trickier. Take the Group of Six. That was set up in 1975 as a club for the six richest countries in the world: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States. Canada joined a year later, so it became the G-7. It stayed that way for the next two decades until the Russians, long a lowly "plus one," were finally allowed in, so the G-7 begat the G-8.

Read more....

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Using Pigeons to Teach Math

Published: October 01, 2009 by Jennifer Jacob Brown
When you think of classroom learning tools, your mind likely conjures up images of textbooks, rulers, and microscopes. But fourth-graders at Poplar Springs Elementary are learning important skills using something a bit more unconventional — their own flock of pigeons.

...This year, McDonald teaches fourth grade at PSE, and says the pigeons — dubbed the Poplar Springs Flying Pandas — have not only provided her with opportunities to teach lessons in every subjects, but have made her students excited to learn those lessons.

The pigeons have given the kids an opportunity to learn math by measuring food and calculating flight speed, to learn geography by using a map to make charts of where pigeons might fly, to learn writing by composing stories and letters about the birds, and to learn science in a huge variety of ways.

They make graphs, research pigeons and pigeon breeding, and learn about animal instincts and care. They even learned about the food chain after an unfortunate incident in which a pigeon was taken by a neighborhood hawk.

Read more....

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Egyptian Number System

The Egyptian numeration system evolved around 3400 BCE. It uses special symbols to represent numbers that are power of 10


Notice that for number greater than 10, this numeration system will require fewer symbols than the Tally numeration system.

Read more....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Supermathematics Is Behind the 1000 MPH Car

September 24, 2009

Called the Bloodhound project, it aims to take a car to a velocity of 1,000 miles per hour. Computational scientist Ben Evans is involved in the car's design and shape, and its driver will be Andy Green, a Royal Air Force fighter pilot and Oxford mathematics graduate. Green holds the current land speed record, 763 miles per hour, set in 1997.

..."None of this would be possible without the use of mathematics," Evans said. “As things stand, the maths tells us that 1,000 mph is possible."

Read more....

Hawking steps down as Lucasian professor in UK

LONDON — Physicist Stephen Hawking stepped down Wednesday as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University after 30 years in the post.

The roughly 350-year-old position has been held by such luminaries as Isaac Newton and Charles Babbage, one of the fathers of modern computing. It is customary for professors to retire from the post the year they turn 67. Hawking, who reached that age in January, will continue to work at the university as director of research at a department dealing with applied mathematics and theoretical physics.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eating Chocolate Makes Math Easier

Just in case you need another excuse to eat chocolate: It makes doing math easier.

A study at the UK's Northumbria University found that people given a large amount of flavanols – found in chocolate – did mental math more quickly and were less likely to feel tired or mentally drained.

In the study, volunteers first sipped chocolate drinks containing flavanols (part of a group of chemicals called polyphenols, which work by increasing blood to the brain) or a control drink. Then they were given mentally-demanding tasks, such as counting backwards in groups of three from a random number between 800 and 999 generated by a computer. They performed tasks like this for an hour.

Read more....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Using Football to Learn Algebra

People are up at the crack of dawn Sunday morning with their computers or iPhones checking their players' statistics and making trades.

For the past two years, Jenny Wilnewic, a seventh-grade math teacher at Larsen Middle School in Elgin, has brought this obsession to her classroom.

"If I can get them to play math with me, that's like three-fourths of the battle," she said. "They love to compete, and fantasy football's a fair competition between the boys and girls. It's not based on athletic ability -- it's based on who happened to pick the best team on numbers."

Read more....

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Econometrists Calculate Fastest Possible Sprinting Time

ScienceDaily (Aug. 7, 2009) — Just how much faster can an athlete run the hundred metres? The current world record, which belongs to Usain Bolt, stands at 9.69 seconds. Two econometrists from the Netherlands have calculated the ultimate records possible for the 100-metre sprint.

...According to Smeets and Einmahl, the fastest time that the men are capable of sprinting is 9.51 seconds, and for the female 100m sprinters, that would be a time of 10.33. In a more cautious estimate (95% confidence), the predicted times are 9.21 for the men and 9.88 for the women.

Extreme-value theory is a sub-sector of statistics, which tries to answer questions about extreme events (which by definition are uncommon), using information about less extreme events. The theory is normally applied within the financial and insurance world to estimate the risk of extreme damage resulting from storms, earthquakes or the bursting of a dyke, for example, in order to calculate premiums.

Read more....

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Friday, September 25, 2009

The Comic Book of Math

Published: September 25, 2009

Well, this is unexpected — a comic book about the quest for logical certainty in mathematics. The story spans the decades from the late 19th century to World War II, a period when the nature of mathematical truth was being furiously debated. The stellar cast, headed up by Bertrand Russell, includes the greatest philosophers, logicians and mathematicians of the era, along with sundry wives and mistresses, plus a couple of homicidal maniacs, an apocryphal barber and Adolf Hitler.

Improbable material for comic-book treatment? Not really. The principals in this intellectual drama are superheroes of a sort. They go up against a powerful nemesis, who might be called Dark Antinomy. Each is haunted by an inner demon, the Specter of Madness. Their quest has a tragic arc, not unlike that of Superman or Donald Duck.

Read more....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cracking The Brain's Numerical Code: Researchers Can Tell What Number A Person Has Seen

ScienceDaily (Sep. 24, 2009) — By carefully observing and analyzing the pattern of activity in the brain, researchers have found that they can tell what number a person has just seen. They can similarly tell how many dots a person has been presented with, according to a report published online on September 24th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.

These findings confirm the notion that numbers are encoded in the brain via detailed and specific activity patterns and open the door to more sophisticated exploration of humans' high-level numerical abilities. Although "number-tuned" neurons have been found in monkeys, scientists hadn't managed to get any farther than particular brain regions before now in humans.

Read more....

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Math That Heals Tough Wounds

ScienceDaily (Sep. 21, 2009) — Scientists expect a new mathematical model of chronic wound healing could replace intuition with clear guidance on how to test treatment strategies in tackling a major public-health problem.

The Ohio State University researchers are the first to publish a mathematical model of an ischemic wound – a chronic wound that heals slowly or is in danger of never healing because it is fed by an inadequate blood supply. Ischemic wounds are a common complication of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other conditions that can be characterized by poor vascular health.

An estimated 6.5 million people in the United States are affected by chronic wounds, and many are at risk of losing limbs or even dying as a result of the most severe of these wounds.

Read more....

Mathematicians Solve 'Trillion Triangle' Problem

ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2009) — Mathematicians from North America, Europe, Australia, and South America have resolved the first one trillion cases of an ancient mathematics problem. The advance was made possible by a clever technique for multiplying large numbers. The numbers involved are so enormous that if their digits were written out by hand they
would stretch to the moon and back. The biggest challenge was that these
numbers could not even fit into the main memory of the available computers, so the researchers had to make extensive use of the computers' hard drives.

The problem, which was first posed more than a thousand years ago, concerns the areas of right-angled triangles. The surprisingly difficult problem is to determine which whole numbers can be the area of a right-angled triangle whose sides are whole numbers or fractions. The area of such a triangle is called a "congruent number." For example, the 3-4-5 right triangle which students see in geometry has area 1/2 × 3 × 4 = 6, so 6 is a congruent number. The smallest congruent number is 5, which is the area of the right triangle with sides 3/2, 20/3, and 41/6.

(Credit: Image courtesy of American Institute of Mathematics)

Read more....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Theory: Stone Age People had Sophisticated Navigation Networks

This is a Linked! article - relevant content for
HHZ-Math and HHZ-History

( -- A new theory based on studies of locations of large landmarks in Britain, such as stone structures, hill forts and earthworks, suggests they were part of a grid used for navigation around 5,000 years ago, which implies people at the time were not as primitive as previously thought.

The theory, put forward by Tom Brooks, a retired marketing executive turned amateur historian, claims landmarks such as Silbury Hill and Stonehenge were part of a navigation network that allowed people to travel long distances without maps.

Analyzing 1,500 sites in southern England and Wales, Brooks found that all the known sites could be connected to at least two others to make isosceles triangles, which have two equal sides. Some of the triangles have sides greater than 100 miles long, and the equal sides are accurate to +/- 110 yards, which Brooks says could not have happened by chance.

Read more....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Has Economics Failed Us?

Is the study of economics too focused on math, not accounting for marginal error because of psychology, philosophy or economic history?

Sept. 19, 2009 - The current crisis has spurred a debate on the training and usefulness of economists. Some contend that economists are useless since they failed to forecast the crisis. Others claim that their training is inadequate because it relies heavily on applied mathematics at the expense of a broad view of how the economy works, informed by other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and political science. Hence, ten British institutional economists have written a letter to the Queen, in response to that of Besley and Hennessy, where they state that “economics has turned virtually into a branch of applied mathematics, and has been become detached from real world institutions and events.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reconstruct Mars Automatically In Minutes

ScienceDaily (Sep. 17, 2009) A computer system is under development that can automatically combine images of the Martian surface, captured by landers or rovers, in order to reproduce a three dimensional view of the red planet. The resulting model can be viewed from any angle, giving astronomers a realistic and immersive impression of the landscape.

"....The growing amount of available imagery from Mars is nearly impossible to handle for the manual image processing techniques used to date.

....From the technical point of view, the image processing consists of three stages: the first step is determining the image order. If the input images are unordered, i.e. they do not form a sequence but still are somehow connected, a state-of-the-art image indexing technique is able to find images of cameras observing the same part of the scene."

Read more....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Animals Seem to Have Ability to Count

Counting may be innate in many species

Scientists have been skeptical of claims of mathematical abilities in animals ever since the case of Clever Hans about 100 years ago. The horse, which performed arithmetic and other intellectual tasks to delighted European audiences, was in reality simply taking subconscious cues from his trainer. Modern examples, such as Alex the African grey parrot, which could count up to six and knew sums and differences, are seen by some as special cases or the product of conditioning.

Recent studies, however, have uncovered new instances of a counting skill in different species, suggesting that mathematical abilities could be more fundamental in biology than previously thought. Under certain conditions, monkeys could sometimes outperform college students.

Read more....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rome Was Built In A Day, With New Algorithm and Thousands Of Digital Photos

ScienceDaily (Sep. 15, 2009) — The ancient city of Rome was not built in a day. It took nearly a decade to build the Colosseum, and almost a century to construct St. Peter's Basilica. But now the city, including these landmarks, can be digitized in just a matter of hours.

A new computer algorithm developed at the University of Washington uses hundreds of thousands of tourist photos to automatically reconstruct an entire city in about a day.

Read more....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cracking the Cube

Daniel Kunkle can solve a Rubik's Cube in 26 moves. Or at least his computer can.

Kunkle, a computer scientist at Northeastern University in Boston, has proved that 26 moves are enough to solve any Rubik's Cube, no matter how scrambled. That's one move below the previous record. In the process of cracking the cube, he developed algorithms that can be useful for problems as disparate as scheduling air flights and determining how proteins will fold.

Read more....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New microprocessor runs on thin air

17:25 03 September 2009 by Colin Barras

There's no shortage of ways to perform calculations without a standard electronic computer. But the latest in a long line of weird computers runs calculations on nothing more than air.

The complicated nest of channels and valves (see image) made by Minsoung Rhee and Mark Burns at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, processes binary signals by sucking air out of tubes to represent a 0, or letting it back in to represent a 1.

A chain of such 1s and 0s flows through the processor's channels, with pneumatic valves controlling the flow of the signals between channels.

Read more....

Wall Street’s Math Wizards Forgot a Few Variables

Published: Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 5:10 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 5:10 a.m.

IN the aftermath of the great meltdown of 2008, Wall Street’s quants have been cast as the financial engineers of profit-driven innovation run amok. They, after all, invented the exotic securities that proved so troublesome.

But the real failure, according to finance experts and economists, was in the quants’ mathematical models of risk that suggested the arcane stuff was safe.

The risk models proved myopic, they say, because they were too simple-minded. They focused mainly on figures like the expected returns and the default risk of financial instruments. What they didn’t sufficiently take into account was human behavior, specifically the potential for widespread panic. When lots of investors got too scared to buy or sell, markets seized up and the models failed.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mathematicians Show Tricks Behind Ads, Sales

This article is a little old, too, but it's really great if you prefer to learn math using real-world examples:

June 1, 2007 - Consumers need to be more aware of the mathematical details behind sales pitches, math experts say. Simple arithmetic can show exactly what kind of deal is offered.

Now, Dr. Ganem unburies the facts and offers tips and tools to getting the best deal -- just by doing a little math. America online offered 1,000 free Internet hours for 45 days. Do the math, and there are 1,080 hours in 45 days. Consumers would have to be online all day, everyday to get full use of the offer. "What the ad really means is a 45 day free trial period, but they don't phrase it that way; they make you do some multiplication to find that out."

A fruit drink might seem healthier than soda. But a 12 oz. serving of soda has 140 calories and an 8 oz. fruit drink serving has 120 calories. Ounce for ounce a soda actually has fewer calories and less sugar than a fruit drink! "If you have a calculator and can do some basic arithmetic, that's all you really need to do to make your own purchasing decisions," Dr. Ganem says. A tip to help you get the best deals and put money back in your pocket.

Read more....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Virtual Maps For The Blind

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2009) — .....To give navigational "sight" to the blind, Dr. Lahav has invented a new software tool to help the blind navigate through unfamiliar places. It is connected to an existing joystick, a 3-D haptic device, that interfaces with the user through the sense of touch. People can feel tension beneath their fingertips as a physical sensation through the joystick as they navigate around a virtual environment which they cannot see, only feel: the joystick stiffens when the user meets a virtual wall or barrier. The software can also be programmed to emit sounds — a cappuccino machine firing up in a virtual cafĂ©, or phones ringing when the explorer walks by a reception desk.

Exploring 3D virtual worlds based on maps of real-world environments, the blind are able to "feel out" streets, sidewalks and hallways with the joystick as they move the cursor like a white cane on the computer screen that they will never see. Before going out alone, the new solution gives them the control, confidence and ability to explore new streets making unknown spaces familiar. It allows people who can't see to make mental maps in their mind.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Machines Can't Replicate Human Image Recognition, Yet

ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 2009) — While computers can replicate many aspects of human behavior, they do not possess our ability to recognize distorted images, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

"Our goal is to seek a better understanding of the fundamental differences between humans and machines and utilize this in developing automated methods for distinguishing humans and robotic programs," said James Z. Wang, associate professor in Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Math is a real brain bender

This article is a little old, but it's really interesting anyway......

Don’t feel bad if it took forever to wrap your brain around math. Mastering arithmetic requires major reorganization in the way the brain works.

As kids grow up, the parts of the brain used to do math problems change. In elementary school kids, a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex lights up while doing arithmetic.

But by the time kids become adults, that region takes a backseat when crunching numbers, and another part of the brain, called the left superior temporal gyrus, kicks in. A nearby region called the parietal cortex also plays a bigger role in adults’ calculations.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Web Page Ranking Algorithm Detects Critical Species In Ecosystems

ScienceDaily (Sep. 4, 2009)Google's algorithm for ranking web-pages can be used to determine which species are critical for sustaining ecosystems. Drs. Stefano Allesina and Mercedes Pascual find that "PageRank" can be applied to the study of food webs, the complex networks describing who eats whom in an ecosystem.

The researchers, based at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara and at the University of Michigan, therefore adapt Google's PageRank algorithm, which efficiently ranks web-pages according to search criteria, for ecological purposes. Details are published September 4 in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Open-source Camera Could Revolutionize Photography

ScienceDaily (Sep. 4, 2009) — Stanford photo scientists are out to reinvent digital photography with the introduction of an open-source digital camera, which will give programmers around the world the chance to create software that will teach cameras new tricks.

If the technology catches on, camera performance will be no longer be limited by the software that comes pre-installed by the manufacturer. Virtually all the features of the Stanford camera – focus, exposure, shutter speed, flash, etc. – are at the command of software that can be created by inspired programmers anywhere. “The premise of the project is to build a camera that is open source,” said computer science professor Marc Levoy.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is the Universe Actually Made of Math?

Unconventional cosmologist Max Tegmark says mathematical formulas create reality.

Cosmologists are not your run-of-the-mill thinkers, and Max Tegmark is not your run-of-the-mill cosmologist. Throughout his career, Tegmark has made important contributions to problems such as measuring dark matter in the cosmos and understanding how light from the early universe informs models of the Big Bang. But unlike most other physicists, who stay within the confines of the latest theories and measurements, the Swedish-born Tegmark has a night job. In a series of papers that have caught the attention of physicists and philosophers around the world, he explores not what the laws of nature say but why there are any laws at all.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is Tetris Good For The Brain?

ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2009) — Brain imaging shows playing Tetris leads to a thicker cortex and may also increase brain efficiency, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Research Notes. A research team based in New Mexico is one of the first to investigate the effects of practice in the brain using two image techniques.
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Researchers Hope to Mass-Produce Tiny Robots

( -- Tiny robots the size of a flea could one day be mass-produced, churned out in swarms and programmed for a variety of applications, such as surveillance, micromanufacturing, medicine, cleaning, and more. In an effort to reach this goal, a recent study has demonstrated the initial tests for fabricating microrobots on a large scale.

The researchers, from institutes in Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, explain that their building approach marks a new paradigm of robot development in microrobotics. The technique involves integrating an entire robot - with communication, locomotion, , and electronics - in different modules on a single circuit board.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Seeing The Tree From The Forest: Predicting The Future Of Plant Communities

ScienceDaily (Aug. 29, 2009) — The ability to envisage the future may be closer than you would think. A recent paper by Sean Hammond and Karl Niklas in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Botany presents an algorithm that may be used to predict the future dynamics of plant communities, an increasingly interesting area of study as significant environmental changes, such as global climate change and invasive species, are affecting current plant communities.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blood can be crucial evidence at crime scenes

August 22, 2009 5:33 PM

Blood left at a crime scene can be like a witness to the crime.

For the right investigator with a background in bloodstain pattern analysis, blood — where it’s left, what it looks like and how it’s splattered — tells a story.

“It’s just like a painting,” said SBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Peter “Duane” Deaver, who is considered an expert in bloodstain pattern analysis. “It’s been painted there for me to interpret.”

Bloodstain pattern analysis is a science based on physics, geometry and trigonometry. It requires research, practice and willingness for an investigator to admit, “I don’t know.”

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Supercomputer -- Cystorm -- Unleashes 28.16 Trillion Calculations Per Second

ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2009) — Srinivas Aluru recently stepped between the two rows of six tall metal racks, opened up the silver doors and showed off the 3,200 computer processor cores that power Cystorm, Iowa State University's second supercomputer.

And there's a lot of raw power in those racks.

Cystorm, a Sun Microsystems machine, boasts a peak performance of 28.16 trillion calculations per second. That's five times the peak of CyBlue, an IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer that's been on campus since early 2006 and uses 2,048 processors to do 5.7 trillion calculations per second.

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