Archives for March, 2016

To Atlanta!

I’m leaving for Atlanta tomorrow, to participate in the biennial Gathering For Gardner conference. Martin Gardner’s interests were math, magic, and fighting pseudoscience. My kind of guy! While I’m away, you can discuss Sergey Karjakin’s surprise win in the big chess candidate’s tournament. His victory gets earns him a title match against World Champion Magnus…

POTW 8 Posted

I’ve just posted the eighth Problem Of the Week, along with a solution to last week’s problem. Only two more problems to go before we hang up our spurs until the fall.

Meyer Weighs In

It turns out the big Lawrence Krauss/Stephen Meyer debate is two and a half hours long. I’ve started watching it in installments. So far I’ve only gotten through Krauss’ thirty minute opening presentation. I thought it was decent, though Krauss was overly nasty towards his sparring partner in his opening remarks. I sympathize with the…

Sunday Chess Problem

Some chess problems are engineering marvels featuring deep and complex strategy. Other problems are elegant and delightful, and serve as reminders of just how much play can be squeezed out of a small number of pieces. This week’s problem is of the latter sort. It was composed by Normal Macleod in 1962. The position below…

Reading Douglas Axe’s rather simplistic musings on natural selection reminded me of one of my very favorite creationist quotes. It comes from Jonathan Sarfati, in his book Refuting Evolution 2. Sarfati is one of the more fire-breathing young-earthers. I’ve always had some sympathy for him, since at one time he was the chess champion of…

Creationist Probability

When I got interested in evolution, one of the first books I read was The Blind Watchmaker, by Richard Dawkins. I had never heard of Dawkins before reading that book. I read it simply because I happened to notice it a the public library and thought it had a cool cover. The book’s third chapter…

POTW 7!

The seventh POTW has been posted. Enjoy! While at the Indiana math conference, I had the pleasure of seeing a short magic show by Caleb Wiles, who lives in Indianapolis and was apparently a math major at one time. I was impressed! It turns out he will at some point be appearing on Penn and…

Sunday Chess Problem

The big Go match came to an exciting conclusion. The computer won the first three (out of five) games, thereby winning the match, against Go world champion Lee Sedol. In the press conference after the third game the tenor was that it was impressive that Sedol was able to compete as strongly as he had,…

POTW 6 Posted

Spring break has ended. It is a great sadness. But that means that POTW can now return! Life is full of tradeoffs.

For the chess fans, the big candidates tournament begins in Moscow tomorrow. Eight of the top players in the world will be competing for the chance to face Magnus Carlsen in a match for the title. As it happens, the US has two representatives: Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura. Going strictly by ratings, they are…

On Teaching Math

Periodically some social scientist notices that math is abstract and difficult. Thinking that math educators have overlooked this fact, he breathlessly reports his findings as a great discovery he has made. The latest example is Andrew Hacker, a political scientist at Queen’s College. In a new book, The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions, he…

Sunday Chess Problem

One of the pleasures of playing in the US Amateur Team East is getting to browse the offerings from Fred Wilson’s chess store. I’ve acquired a number of choice books from him over the years, especially in the area of chess composition. This year I was able to snatch up a copy of The Two-Move…