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.

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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?

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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. ;)

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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