Carnival of Mathematics!

I’m a little late to the party, but do go have a look at the third installment of The Carnival of Mathematics over at Michi’s Blog. Lots of good procrastination material!

The fourth installment is set to go up on March 23. And I will be the host! If you write any sort of math-related blog entry, let me know about it by Wednesday the 21st. Go here if you want to submit an essay, and many thanks to Alon Levy for making the submission process so simple. No more than two contirbutions per author plese. I’ve already received a fair number of submissions, and the deadline is still a ways away.


  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    March 13, 2007

    Following PZ’s principle about making carnival announcements open threads, I hope you’ll forgive my popping in here with a question. I wonder if you’d like to give an opinion on “A New Theory of the Universe“, written by the cell biologist Robert Lanza and published in the most recent American Scholar. Speaking perfectly frankly, it made my brain hurt and gave me unpleasant Chopra flashbacks, but maybe that was just me. (Link to my reactions provided in this post’s URL field.)

  2. #2 Jonathan Vos Post
    March 13, 2007

    Blake: I didn’t like the Biology, I didn’t like the Physics, I didn’t see how they were purportedly connected. I cut the article out to paste somewhere, but then couldn’t think of where to paste it or what to say. Major drivel in a major venue. What a shame.

    There might be a real article to write on the exact subject (speculations on future Cosmology and Theories of Everything, but from a Biological rather than Mathematical Physics viewpoint), but it would take a Doug Hofstadter or a Stuart Kauffman or a Murray Gell-Mann to write.

    The subject interests you, me, and some of the blog readers here, but it is way beyond my ability to address.

    “American Scholar” might consider renaming itself “American Pseudo-scholar.” Except that the acronym “APS” is taken.

  3. #3 Blake Stacey
    March 13, 2007

    Some points of note:

    0. Mark Chu-Carroll has now fisked Robert Lanza at Good Math, Bad Math. Go, read and enjoy.

    1. As I mentioned in a comment over there, it’s both unfortunate and ironic that Lanza got published in The American Scholar, when we look at Brian Boyd’s sensible article on bioculture published in the August 2006 issue. I recall that our host analyzed that article some months back in this very blog.

    2. There is just enough science in Lanza’s essay that dissecting the bad stuff could be a profitable way to teach good stuff. One could begin by looking at the factual errors — misrepresenting the FTL aspects of EPR experiments, for example, or muddling the description of relativity — and then move on to debunking the fine-tuning, anthropic pseudo-arguments.

    3. Finally, one might mention the irony that at least one legitimate model for explaining why the laws of physics are the way they are is truly biological in inspiration: Smolin’s idea of cosmic evolution by black holes.

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