Jason Rosenhouse received his PhD in mathematics from Dartmouth College in 2000. He subsequently spent three years as a post-doc at Kansas State University. Currently he is Associate Professor of Mathematics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. This blog is about science, religion, math, politics and chess, roughly in that order.

Sunday Chess Problem

I’m a little pressed for time today, so for this week’s chess problem I’ve selected one of those old-fashioned efforts whose only point is a shocking key move. The following position was composed by Sam Loyd in 1868 and calls for mate in two: Of course, white’s force is so overwhelming that were this a…

John Nash Has Died

In less happy news, there is this: John Forbes Nash Jr., a mathematical genius whose struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in the 2001 movie “A Beautiful Mind,” has died along with his wife in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was 86. Nash and Alicia Nash, 82, of Princeton Township, were killed…

Good News From Ireland

A large majority of voters have approved gay marriage: Ireland’s citizens have voted in a landslide to legalize gay marriage, electoral officials announced Saturday–a stunningly lopsided result that illustrates what Catholic leaders and rights activists alike called a “social revolution.” Friday’s referendum saw 62.1 percent of Irish voters say “yes” to changing the nation’s constitution…

Sunday Chess Problem

This week we have a straightforward direct mate problem for you. It was composed by Raffi Rupin in 1961, and calls for mate in four: A quick look at the diagram shows that white has three potential mates that almost work: Ra3, Nc5, Ra7. Currently, though, none of these work. The rook on b3 is…

Philosopher Graham Oppy, whose book Arguing About Gods is well worth reading, has written an interesting survey of work by atheist philosophers over the last sixty years. Here’s a taste: The last sixty years have been a very fertile period for academic atheist philosopher critiques of theistic arguments. Among large-scale works that have attempted to…

Sunday Chess Problem

I have been shamefully derelict in my Sunday Chess Problem responsibilities. But that ends now! To get us back into the swing of things, I have selected one of my own. The following diagram calls for selfmate in five: This was published in the June 1992 issue of the British Chess Magazine. It later received…

My Oven Has Died

It’s been very hectic around here recently. In addition to the usual end of semester craziness, there’s been one thing after another to fill my time. The book I’ve been editing forever had a major deadline last Monday, which pretty well killed that weekend. This past weekend was occupied by the MAA section meeting in…

A Few More Words About Morality

You really must check in on the big morality discussion over at Uncommon Descent. Barry Arrington has done another post on the subject. It’s just more snarling and buffoonery, but I do suggest browsing the comments. RDFish, the “idiot” who caused Arrington’s latest fit of apoplexy, has shown extraordinary patience and lucidity in responding point…

I occasionally check in with the pro-ID blog Uncommon Descent, on the off chance they may have said something interesting. Sadly, the blog has mostly fallen on hard times. Nowadays it’s mostly just post after post whose only point is to demean and insult people, or to proffer absurd misunderstandings of thermodynamics. Sometimes, though, they…

The Dramatic Conclusion of POTW

I have now posted the final POTW for the semester. That’s right! After this, there will no more POTWs until September. So go have a look, and tell me what you think.

Sunday Chess Problem

Okay, I’m back from Tennessee. The talk went pretty well, and the conference was a lot of fun. So let’s celebrate with another installment of Sunday Chess Problem! Our last entry featured a series mover. It seemed to be well-received, and they happen to be fairly easy to blog. So let’s try another one! The…

To Tennessee!

I’ll be heading off to Knoxville, Tennessee on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning I will be giving the big keynote talk at an undergraduate research conference at the University of Tennessee. Do you think maybe I’ll be talking about the Monty Hall problem? I think maybe I will! So, if you’re going to be in the…

On Bad Writing

One of the many problems with the essay discussed in yesterday’s post is that it was poorly written. Finnis and George seemed to go out of their way to be as unclear as possible, frequently choosing tortured, ambiguous phrasings when clearer options were readily at hand. This is something of an occupational hazard among academics,…

Penultimate POTW!

Okay folks. The ninth Problem of the Week has now been posted. Only one more after this, so enjoy them while they last. I’ve also posted an “official” solution to Problem Eight, so feel free to have a look at that as well.

It’s been complete bedlam at my house lately. I made one of my periodical forays into cultural Judaism this past weekend by hosting a Passover seder. My parents, my brother and sister-in-law and their two kids (ages eight and ten) and some friends, eleven in all, packed into my small house. It was a lot…