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It is my pleasure to announce that the Math Scholar blog now has its own domain, appropriately named MathScholar.org. Existing posts on this blog have been copied to the new blog, and beginning on 22 March 2017, all future posts will be posted to the new blog.
Please visit MathScholar.org soon!.
What do exoplanets, four-billion-year-old life, Fermi’s paradox and zero-one laws of probability theory have to do with each other? Quite a bit, actually. Let us review these developments, one by one:
New exoplanet discoveries
Depiction of the seven exoplanets of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Courtesy NASA.
On 22 February 2017, a consortium of NASA and European astronomers announced that there are not just one but seven planets that potentially could harbor life, all orbiting a yellow dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1, about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles or 378 trillion km) from earth. This is clearly a remarkable discovery, adding seven to
Continue reading Exoplanets, 4 billion-year-old life, Fermi’s paradox and zero-one laws
The book Reproducibility: Principles, Problems, Practices, and Prospects, which contains a chapter co-authored by the late Jonathan Borwein and the present authors (Victoria Stodden and David H. Bailey), has won a 2017 Prose Award (“Honorable Mention”) in the category “Textbook/Best in Physical Sciences and Mathematics.” These prizes are awarded annually in 53 categories by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers.
This volume consists of 27 chapters, grouped into six sections, which collectively address questions of reproducibility in a broad range of scientific disciplines, ranging from medicine, physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences and even
Continue reading Reproducibility: Principles, Problems, Practices, and Prospects
Springer has just published the book Space, Time and the Limits of Human Understanding. The book consists of 39 chapters, each written by a leading figure in one of the six general areas covered in the volume (philosophy, physics, mathematics, biology and cognitive science, logic and computer science, and miscellaneous). The present author has an article, co-authored with the late Jonathan Borwein, entitled “A computational mathematics view of space, time and complexity.” The book is targeted to a technical reader, but a first-year college calculus and physics background suffices for at least 90% of the material.
Here is a sample
Continue reading Space, Time and the Limits of Human Understanding
Recently Ken Ono, a renowned mathematician at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, published an autobiography entitled My Search for Ramanujan: How I Learned to Count. It is co-authored with Amir Aczel, who, among other things, wrote the book Finding Zero, but sadly Aczel passed away before the book was completed.
Ken Ono was the son of Takashi Ono, a Japanese mathematician who taught at the University of Pennsylvania. Ono’s field of research has closely paralleled the writings of famed Inidian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Among other things, Ono significantly extended Ramanujan’s work on partition congruences and mock theta functions, and, with
Continue reading “My Search for Ramanujan”
NASA image of hurricane Sandy
Donald Trump’s recent naming of key cabinet and agency appointees (which still must be approved by Congress) raises the question of the scientific qualifications for persons serving in high-level public office.
Some say that scientific qualifications are only important for positions directly relevant to scientific research, such as NASA, the National Science Foundation, and their equivalents in other nations. But this is very short-sighted. After all, science and technology are increasingly central to:
Energy: Finding practical and economically viable alternatives to fossil fuels, which involves research in mathematics, high-energy physics and materials science,
Continue reading Scientific qualifications of Trump’s appointees
Victoria Stodden, Marcia McNutt (President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science), David H. Bailey, Ewa Deelman, Yolanda Gil, Brooks Hanson, Michael Heroux, John Ioannidis and Michela Taufer have published an article in Science (the principal journal of the AAAS) entitled Enhancing reproducibility in computational methods.
In this article we argue that the field of mathematical and scientific computing lags behind other fields in establishing a culture and tools to ensure reproducibility. All too often, the authors of computations, even those that are published in peer-reviewed conferences and journals, have not fully documented their algorithms, code, input data
Continue reading Enhancing reproducibility in mathematical and scientific computing
The Breakthrough Foundation has announced a new set of winners of their awards, including recipients in mathematics, physics and life sciences. The founders of the Breakthrough Prize are Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) and Anne Wojcicki (co-founder of 23andme), Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (founder of Facebook and his spouse), Yuri Milner and Julia Milner (Russian venture capitalist and his spouse), and Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang (founder of Alibaba and his spouse).
The Breakthrough Prize in mathematics (USD$3 million) was awarded to Jean Bourgain of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Bourgain’s work
Continue reading Breakthrough Foundation announces 2017 prizes in math, physics and life sciences
The latest international results comparing Grade 4 and Grade 8 students in mathematics and science are in, and, once again, the Asian tigers (China, Korea, Japan, and Singapore) are roaring, significantly leading major first-world nations such as the United States, England and Australia.
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is an international test to compare the achievement of fourth and eighth grade students in mathematics and science. It has been administered every four years since 1995, thus providing a 20-year period for study of educational trends around the world.
In November 2016, results for the
Continue reading Asian tigers roar in the latest TIMSS math-science rankings
The American Mathematical Society has announced that David H. Bailey, Jonathan Borwein, Andrew Mattingly and Glenn Wightwick will receive the 2017 Levi L. Conant Prize. Bailey is a retired senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a research associate at the University of California, Davis. Borwein (deceased 2 August 2016) was a Laureate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Mattingly is senior information technology architect at IBM Australia. Wightwick is deputy vice-chancellor and vice-president (Research) at the University of Technology Sydney.
This year’s prize was awarded for the recipients’ 2013 article The Computation of Previously
Continue reading Bailey, Borwein, Mattingly and Wightwick to receive the Levi L. Conant Prize from AMS