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"Mathematics is the gate and key of the sciences." (Roger Bacon)

Location: #science
Members: 31
Latest Activity: Jan 19

Free and open online Mathematics course materials from MIT. Lecture notes, exams , audio video lectures, textbooks by MIT professors.

Discussion Forum

The 17 Equations That Changed The World

Started by Neal. Last reply by Neal Oct 23, 2013. 5 Replies

MAX NISEN JUL. 10, 2012, 11:39 AM 781,865 18Earlier this year, Mathematician Ian…Continue

Tags: the, world, changed, that, equations

Number Stations - a shortwave radio enigma

Started by Michel Mar 27, 2013. 0 Replies

The BBC Radio 4 Broadcast of "Tracking The Lincolnshire Poacher," first aired in 2005. "BBC Radio's Simon Fanshawe embarks on a detective journey into the clandestine world of radio cryptography and attempts to solve one of the most unusual…Continue

Tags: cryptic, messages, stations, radio, shortwave

What Is the Answer to That Stupid Math Problem on Facebook? And why are people so riled up about it?

Started by Neal. Last reply by Adriana Mar 19, 2013. 25 Replies

By Tara Haelle|Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 1:04 PMScreenshot courtesy of FacebookPerhaps you’ve seen the problem on Facebook or another forum:6 ÷ 2(1+2) = ?…Continue

Tags: answer, the, is, what.


Started by doone. Last reply by doone Mar 3, 2013. 5 Replies

THE UNIVERSAL LAWS BEHIND GROWTH PATTERNS, OR WHAT TETRIS CAN TEACH US ABOUT COFFEE STAINSAatish Bhatia in Empirical I watched this miniature world self-assemble on my windshield like an alien landscape, I wondered about the physics…Continue


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Comment by doone on January 19, 2014 at 3:13pm
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Comment by doone on October 23, 2013 at 8:51am

From Mind Hacks

The death of the chaotic positivity ratio

A new online publication called Narratively has an excellent story about how a part-time student blew apart a long-standing theory in positive psychology.

The article is the geeky yet compelling tale of how weekend student Nick Brown found something fishy about the ‘critical positivity ratio’ theory that says people flourish when they have between 2.9013 and 11.6346 positive emotions for every negative one.

It’s been a big theory in positive psychology but Brown noticed that it was based on the dodgy application of mathematician Lorenz’s equations from fluid dynamics to human emotions.

He recruited psychology professor Harris Friedman and renowned bunk buster Alan Sokal into the analysis and their critique eventually got the paper partiallyretracted for being based on very shaky foundations.

It’s a great fun read and also serves as a good backgrounder to positive psychology.

I’ve also noticed that the latest edition of Narratively has loads of great articles on psychology.

Link to Narratively on Nick Brown the death of the positivity ratio.
Link to latest edition of Narratively entitled ‘Pieces of Mind’.

Comment by Neal on October 17, 2013 at 12:25am

How did I miss the Pi-Rate? Lolz

Lazy or smart, that is the question.

Comment by doone on July 28, 2013 at 1:17am
Comment by doone on July 24, 2013 at 11:04pm
Comment by doone on July 21, 2013 at 10:50pm
Comment by doone on June 30, 2013 at 7:28am



Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings [h/t: Jennifer Ouellette]:

When legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was setting out to release A Brief History of Time, one of the most influential science books in modern history, his publishers admonished him that every equation included would halve the book’s sales. Undeterred, he dared include E = mc², even though cutting it out would have allegedly sold another 10 million copies. The anecdote captures the extent of our culture’s distaste for, if not fear of, equations. And yet, argues mathematician Ian Stewart in In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World, equations have held remarkable power in facilitating humanity’s progress and, as such, call for rudimentary understanding as a form of our most basic literacy.

Stewart writes:

The power of equations lies in the philosophically difficult correspondence between mathematics, a collective creation of human minds, and an external physical reality. Equations model deep patterns in the outside world. By learning to value equations, and to read the stories they tell, we can uncover vital features of the world around us… This is the story of the ascent of humanity, told in 17 equations.

From how the Pythagorean theorem, which linked geometry and algebra, laid the groundwork of the best current theories of space, time, and gravity to how the Navier-Stokes equation applies to modeling climate change, Stewart delivers a scientist’s gift in a storyteller’s package to reveal how these seemingly esoteric equations are really the foundation for nearly everything we know and use today.


Posted by Robin Varghese at 03:20 PM | Permalink

Comment by doone on June 25, 2013 at 8:43am


From Nature:

PlantAs if making food from light were not impressive enough, it may be time to add another advanced skill to the botanical repertoire: the ability to perform — at least at the molecular level — arithmetic division. Computer-generated models published in the journal eLife illustrate how plants might use molecular mathematics to regulate the rate at which they devour starch reserves to provide energy throughout the night, when energy from the Sun is off the menu1. If so, the authors say, it would be the first example of arithmetic division in biology. But it may not be the only one: many animals go through periods of fasting — during hibernations or migrations, for example — and must carefully ration internal energy stores in order to survive. Understanding how arithmetic division could occur at the molecular level might also be useful for the young field of synthetic biology, in which genetic engineers seek standardized methods of tinkering with molecular pathways to create new biological devices. Plants make the starch reserves they produce during the day last almost precisely until dawn. Researchers once thought that plants break down starch at a fixed rate during the night. But then they observed that the diminutive weed Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant favoured for laboratory work, could recalculate that rate on the fly when subjected to an unusually early or late night2.

To Alison Smith and Martin Howard of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, and their colleagues, this suggested that a more sophisticated molecular calculation was at work. The team hypothesized the existence of two molecules: one, S, that tells the plant how much starch remains, and another, T, that informs it about the time left until dawn. The researchers built mathematical models to show that, in principle, the interactions of such molecules could indeed drive the rate of starch breakdown such that it reflected a continuous computation of the division of the amount of remaining starch by the amount of time until dawn. For example, the models predicted that plants would adjust the rate of starch breakdown if the night were interrupted by a period of light. During that period of light, the plants could again produce starch. When the lights went out again, the rate of starch breakdown should adjust to that increase in stored starch, the models predicted — a result that the researchers confirmed in Arabidopsis plants. The team then trawled the literature looking for Arabidopsis mutants with known handicaps at different steps along the starch-degradation pathway. These showed that the models were compatible with the behaviour of these mutants, which result in a higher than usual amount of starch remaining at the end of the night.

More here.

Posted by Azra Raza at 06:56 AM | Permalink


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