Making Math Fun

I was a math major from undergrad to doctorate, so obviously I think math is fun. Equally obvious to me (especially after teaching a variety of mathematical topics to college students), not everyone shares that opinion, which is too bad. Recently, though, I came across an organization devoted to making math fun for small children, …

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Python usage survey 2014

Remember that Python usage survey that went around the interwebs late last year? Well, the results are finally out and I’ve visualized them below for your perusal. This survey has been running for two years now (2013-2014), so where we have data for both years, I’ve charted the results so we can see the changes …

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Crypto-currencies, Bitcoin and Blockchain

Photos from two meetings I attended last week. Some general comments on crypto-currencies: 1. Bitcoin doesn’t really solve any payment problems, unless of course you are a paranoid libertarian who hates “fiat” currencies. But why should you trust the Bitcoin Foundation any more than you trust a central bank? (See Bitcoin dynamics.) 2. Most potential users …

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Public Domain Day: what could have entered it in 2015 and what did get released

Every year, January 1st also marks works from around the world that would be entering the public domain thanks to the copyright laws in theirs respective countries. Public Domain Reviews put a list of creators whose work that are entering the public domain. http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/class-of-2015/ (Kandinsky! Whooh!) Center of Study for the Public Domain put a …

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39 forever

Ten years ago I posted this to my blog:   Well 29 year old Leigh, the past 10 years have been very eventful. I have: finished a PhD become an aunt to 5 amazing human beings traveled to places I never imagined I would go: UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Poland, China, India, …

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GradHacker to the Rescue!

When I found GradHacker, I was living in Chicago, away from my home campus, frantically preparing for my last comprehensive exam, conducting pre-dissertation research, and only sleeping about four hours a night—or day—or whenever I finally collapsed. The honesty of GradHacker authors was refreshing: other people had faced difficult circumstances too! (And lived to write …

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Astrophysical Repulsion from Dark Energy

The manifestation of dark energy on cosmological scales is well known: gravitational repulsion which leads to the accelerating expansion of the universe. Perhaps surprisingly, there are potentially observable effects on galactic length scales as well. The Dark Force: Astrophysical Repulsion from Dark Energy (http://arxiv.org/abs/1501.05952) Chiu Man Ho, Stephen D. H. Hsu Dark energy (i.e., a cosmological …

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Garrett Hardin

We’ll finish up “food ethics icons” month with the evil genius of the food/population debates. Everyone I know who ever met Garrett Hardin (1915-2003) spoke well of him. He was by all accounts a generous and open-minded man who welcomed philosophical inquiry and intellectual engagement. So don’t get me wrong when I call him “the …

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African Football in the Media

This year’s Africa Cup of Nations is underway in Equatorial Guinea. RFI talks about African football and media coverage with Peter Alegi, an authority on the game in Africa and Professor of History at Michigan State University in the United States. [full text here.] Click below to listen to the interview. (iOS users click here.) …

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Reinvigorating Democracy – The Next Idea

This was originally written for Michigan Radio’s “The Next Idea” which included an interview with Zoe Clark that aired yesterday on their program “Stateside” and that can be listened to here. (scroll to the bottom of the page to see the audio link)   ===============================================   The Next Idea In the recent elections last November, …

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Open Access in Chemical Sciences

As the Open Access movement began in the 1990s, many established publishers have gradually adopted this publishing model, disseminating high-quality research to as wide of an audience as possible. Scientific publishing has been one of drivers in the field of open access. While there are continuing debates on the best practice of open access research, …

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Putting GMOs on a Tight Leash

Two papers appeared in the latest issue of Nature—one from Farren Isaacs’ group and the other from George Church and colleagues—that presented, developed, and demonstrated a strategy for limiting the spread of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in the event that they are accidentally released or deliberately applied to the environment. My Involvement with GMO Discussions in …

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Seasons and Veritas

Harvard graduates explain why we have seasons. If only their understanding matched their confidence. See also Why is it dark at night?  ,  Inside HBS: “kill, f^^k or marry”  ,  Frauds!  and High V, Low M: … high verbal ability is useful for appearing to be smart, or for winning arguments and impressing other people, …

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Mostly Dead, but Slightly Alive: The Life After Death of Dismembered Remains in Ancient Peru

In the Princess Bride, the deceased body of Westley is brought to Miracle Max in order to bring him back to life. Famously, May says ‘There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive’ (Goldman 2007 from Arnold 2014). In the new issue of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal, there is a focus on …

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Venture capital in the 1980s

Via Dominic Cummings (@odysseanproject), this long discussion of the history of venture capital, which emphasizes the now largely forgotten 1980s. VC in most parts of the developed world, even large parts of the US, resembles the distant past of the above chart. There is a big gap between Silicon Valley and the rest. Heat Death: …

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Waiting

On Wednesday I asked the students in my class to describe what they’d been doing earlier in the day, before our afternoon session began. While they scribbled I wrote alongside them, producing a dull summary of actions and toil—until I came to waiting … There is always waiting. It begins in the still-dark morning when …

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Oral History and Digital Humanities

All fields in the humanities have been transformed by digital technology, but none more so than oral history.  The new book, Oral History and Digital Humanities: Voice, Access, and Engagement, published by Palgrave Macmillan, explores the impact that new technologies have had on the field.  Edited by Doug Boyd and Mary Larson, the essays in the …

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Curbing the Athletic Arms Race

The New York Times covered the NCAA convention this past week discussing some of the turbulence around the organization and the big business of college sports. In Friday’s article by Ben Strauss, one of the suggestions thrown out by Prof. Andrew Zimbalist, economics professor at Smith College, was “to cap head coaches’ salaries at $500,000… …

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Paul and Anne Ehrlich

The theme for ‘food ethics icons’ month is the world hunger/population growth tangle. Our thinking has been bracketed by two opposing nostrums: On the one hand, agriculture is in a race with population growth, on the other hand, the problem is not agriculture but the distribution of food we already have. Both of these are …

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FFI Presentations at Shenzhen International Innovation Auditorium Conference and Chinese National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment

This is an advance copy of my January 19 and January 22 presentations at the Shenzhen International Innovation Auditorium Conference (hosted by the Shenzhen Municipal Government) and to the Chinese National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA, Beijing). I will be using the same presentation for both groups. For the CFSA I will review …

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Infectiously Fun Science

Science is sometimes frustrating. The work is often repetitive and even tedious. It can be hard to explain to our friends and families—and sometimes even to peers—what we’re doing and why we think it’s important and interesting. The current state of the academic job market is terrible. But science is also often fun. There’s the joy …

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Analogies between Analogies

As reported by Stan Ulam in Adventures of a Mathematician: “A mathematician is a person who can find analogies between theorems; a better mathematician is one who can see analogies between proofs and the best mathematician can notice analogies between theories. One can imagine that the ultimate mathematician is one who can see analogies between …

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