Math

Category archives for Math

As a follow up to Wednesday’s sad balloon post, the repair that lofted it back to the ceiling was a temporary reprieve, unsurprisingly. After 24 hours, more or less, it had sunk back down to the point where the ribbon was just barely touching the floor. On the one hand, it looks kind of pathetic…

I’m not much of a baseball fan, but we’re edging our way toward football season, so I flipped to ESPN radio a couple of days ago, in time to hear Mike and Mike discussing Jim Thome’s 600th home run. They were questioning how much meaning we should attach to home run records any more, given…

Threading the Helpfulness Needle

When I came up for my reappointment review three years into my professorial career, I was given a list of required materials to submit, which included a “statement of teaching philosophy.” The same thing had been required for my job application, and at that time, I wrote about techniques and methods that had seemed particularly…

A bunch of people I follow on social media were buzzing about this blog post yesterday, taking Jonah Lerher to task for “getting spun” in researching and writing this column in the Wall Street Journal about this paper on the “wisdom of crowds” effect. The effect in question is a staple of pop psychology these…

This year’s NCAA tournament is being spread over four tv networks, so that every game is shown in its entirety. Previously, you got whatever game was deemed to hold the most interest for your region of the country, plus occasional looks in at games elsewhere, that usually managed to miss the most exciting bits. For…

My talk at the AAAS meeting was part of a symposium on the results from the 2008 Trends in International Math and Science Survey (TIMSS) Advanced. This is an international test on math and physics given to high-school students in nine different countries (Armenia, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden), and this is…

Dorky Poll: Favorite Prime Number?

A pretty straightforward question: Which prime number do you like the best? What’s your favorite prime number?online surveys This is a purely classical poll, so you only get to choose one favorite, not a superposition of multiple numbers. Your selection is legally binding, so choose wisely!

Benford’s Law of Amazon Rankings

Late last year, Matthew Beckler was nice enough to make a sales rank tracker for How to Teach Physics to Your Dog. Changes in the Amazon page format made it stop working a while ago, though, and now Amazon reports roughly equivalent data via its AuthorCentral feature, with the added bonus of BookScan sales figures.…

Two Cultures Within Science

The great British physicist Ernest Rutherford once said “In science, there is only physics; all the rest is stamp collecting.” This is kind of the ultimate example of the arrogance of physicists, given a lovely ironic twist by the fact that when Rutherford won a Nobel Prize, it was in Chemistry. (He won for discovering…

Poll: Significant Figures

I’m grading a big backlog of homeworks today, so I don’t have time to do any really lengthy posts this morning. Thus, a poll question inspired by going through these homeworks: You are doing a physics homework problem. How many significant figures do you report?survey software While the class in question uses some quantum ideas,…