Math

Category archives for Math

In mathematics, you don’t understand things. You just get used to them. -Johann von Neumann Sometimes, I have to deal with series: lots of numbers all added together. Some series clearly approach a limit, like the following: 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + … I can visualize this in…

To most outsiders, modern mathematics is unknown territory. Its borders are protected by dense thickets of technical terms; its landscapes are a mass of indecipherable equations and incomprehensible concepts. Few realize that the world of modern mathematics is rich with vivid images and provocative ideas. -Ivars Peterson Those of you who know me well know…

“A Tantalizing Hint of Dark Matter?” No.

One of the reasons I write here on ScienceBlogs is because of our associations with the New York Times, a journalistic news source that I’m proud of on most days. Today is not one of those days. It isn’t just the Times, either, the BBC is busy botching this story, so is the Telegraph, the…

Are Black Holes Forbidden Mathematically?

In the comments on one of my posts, someone pointed me towards Stephen Crothers, who gives the following argument (in a nutshell) as to why black holes cannot possibly exist: General Relativity is our theory of gravity, which relates the curvature of space to the gravitational acceleration of objects. This theory only works in certain…

How overpopulated are we?

…we spend paltry sums for population planning, even though its spontaneous growth is an urgent threat to life on our planet. There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical and…

Paper Folding to the Moon

Note: This post has been updated and improved for 2014 here, at the new Starts With A Bang blog. What follows below is the original version from 2009. Okay, as many of you had heard, I’ve got a new job as a full-time Professor. And not only am I pretty excited about it, I thought…

The Math of the Fastest Human Alive

Last year, while watching the Beijing Olympics, I was blown away by how much faster Usain Bolt was than everybody else: He became the first man to run the 100 meter dash in under 9.7 seconds. Now, I thought, that’s really, really fast. But then, just a few days ago, there was a race between…

The Math of the Expanding Universe

Okay. Yesterday, I explained to you that the only thing that determines how the Universe expands is the amount of energy density in it. But many of you wanted more details. So, by popular demand — including one insistence that there is no equation that tells us how the Universe expands — here is the…

I recently got this comment of incredulity on my article about what wiped out the dinosaurs? I´m sorry. But i don´t believe this. In my opinion they were wiped out by a climatic changing. And I think it’s worth — with the help of a little math and physics — looking at what this asteroid…

In 1862, an under-manned, under-equipped Mexican army defeated the French at the battle of Puebla on May 5th. Cinco de Mayo, started because of this event, has now become a widespread holiday in the US, where awareness and appreciation of Mexico and Mexican culture are of paramount importance. So before you go out to Chi-Chi’s…