Archives for February, 2011

Monday Math: Fermat’s Little Theorem

The big number theory course has moved on to modular arithmetic, which means we have been discussing Fermat’s Little Theorem. Personally I’ve always thought that name is just adorable. As it happens, I already did a post on this topic. But since that post is close to a year old, and since I did not…

I am arriving very late to the party on this one, but I would like to reply to one portion of this post from Jean Kazez. She writes: Likewise, I don’t see much point in discussing religion/science incompatibility in the public square. We can all agree on very plain and simple things–if science, then no…

Kasparov on Fischer

If you can forgive another chess post, the current issue of The New York Review of Books has a review, by Gary Kasparov, of a new biography of Bobby Fischer. The chessplayers among you won’t find much you didn’t already know, but the essay is well done nonetheless. Go have a look: It would be…

What a Chess Tournament Looks Like

  The US Amateur Team East is one of the biggest and most exciting chess tournaments on the calendar. The comraderie of playing as part of a team, coupled with the complete absence of cash prizes, makes for a generally mellow experience. Having not played in a year I was a bit worried about some…

Chess In Parsippany!

I will be spending the next few days in sunny Parsippany, NJ, participating in the annual chess extravaganza known as the World Amateur Team Chess Championship. I’m mostly retired from tournament play these days, too stressful, but I always poke up my head to push the wood at this one. I get to see a…

Nonsense From Zuckerman

Sociologist Phil Zuckerman of Pitzer College has been a hero of mine ever since he published (in 2008) an excellent book called Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment. He studied Sweden and Denmark, where atheists predominate, and showed rather effectively that when religious demagogues wail about the pernicious…

The big number theory class has moved on to prime factorizations and the fundamental theorem of arithmetic. As it happens, though, I’ve already done a post on that subject. Looking back at what I wrote then I see that I left out one important detail. I asserted without proof (though I did provide a link)…

Chess Diagrams in LaTeX

I’ll bet someone out there can help me with a technical question. I need to embed a chess diagram into a LaTeX document. It’s for the evolution/creation book (don’t ask). I know there are a variety of packages available for doing that, but I’m having trouble finding anything very helpful on the web. For example,…

Page Numbers!

This is clearly the result of my earlier blog post. Our customers have told us they want real page numbers that match the page numbers in print books so they can easily reference and cite passages, and read alongside others in a book club or class. Rather than add page numbers that don’t correspond to…

Monday Math: The Euclidean Algorithm

My number theory class has moved on from Pythagorean triples. Lately we’ve been talking about the Euclidean algorithm. Specifically, it’s an algorithm for finding the greatest common divisor (gcd) of two numbers. Of course, there are lots of ways finding the gcd. You could simply list all of the divisors of the first number, all…

Religion at the AAAS Meeting

Jerry Coyne and P. Z. Myers (here and here respectively) have taken note of a session at the upcoming AAAS Annual Meeting entitled: Evangelicals, Science, and Policy: Toward a Constructive Engagement. They object to this intrusion of religion into a science meeting. In the comments to their posts, Nick Matzke has been gamely trying to…

Elaine Howard Ecklund has a confusing post up at HuffPo. It is confusing because it is very unclear what exactly she wants. There is strong evidence that religion is resurging among students on America’s top university campuses. Yet, a large number of academic scientists firmly feel that they should not discuss religion in their classrooms.…

Book Update

The BECB (the big evolution/creatio book) has been all-consuming lately. I’ve been struggling to meet my April 1 (no foolin!) deadline, which led me to spend virtually every waking moment last week either in the classroom, grading papers, or writing. My worry wasn’t so much finishing the manuscript on time, since it is very nearly…