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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…

Toobin on Scalia

Writing at The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin provides some helpful pushback against the nauseating wave of Scalia hagiography: Antonin Scalia, who died this month, after nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, devoted his professional life to making the United States a less fair, less tolerant, and less admirable democracy. Fortunately, he mostly failed. Belligerent…

The Epic USATE Post! 2016 Edition!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the last one of these epic posts. But it’s time once more to report on the goings-on at the US Amateur Team East chess tournament. I don’t play a lot of tournament chess anymore, but I always like to come out of retirement for this one.…

Second Law Watch

Over at Uncommon Descent, Granville Sewell has popped up one more time to write the same post he always writes. It’s the one about how the second law of thermodynamics totally refutes evolution. It’s a worth a look, since he is even more explicit than usual that there is nothing more to his argument than:…

Scalia

I spent this weekend playing in the annual chess extravaganza known as the US Amateur Team East (epic blog post to follow). On Saturday night, I was having dinner at an excellent Japanese restaurant with some of my teammates. One of them, who happens to be a lawyer, had his phone out and said, “Hey,…