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."

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

Emotional Bunny Says: "Move out of the way iPhone and 'pod, the iCam is the new kid on the block....."

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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