Amir Aczel, mathematician and author of a number of semi-popular books on mathematics and science (see, for example, Fermat’s Last Theorem: Unlocking the Secret of an Ancient Mathematical Problem), has just published Finding Zero: A Mathematician’s Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers.
Aczel’s Finding Zero addresses a very significant historical question: What is the
Continue reading Amir Aczel’s Finding Zero
The twin prime and prime gap conjectures
Paul Erdos, one of the 20th century’s most famed mathematicians (1913-1996) was well-known for offering prizes for the solution of various mathematical problems. Although most of these prizes were a token USD$25 or the like, he did offer a UDS$10,000 prize for the solution to a certain conjecture
Continue reading New results on the prime gap conjecture
The world community is truly at a crossroads like never before faced in the history of our civilization. If we continue business-as-usual with the consumption of fossil fuels, then, according to the 2014 edition of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s climate change report, grave consequences will almost surely ensue, including rising sea
Continue reading Low energy nuclear reactions: Papers and patents
On 17 November 2014, research groups at Google and Stanford University jointly announced significant advances in image recognition software.
Image recognition has been pursued for many years. One of the first and still most widely deployed applications is to recognize faces. Indeed, facial recognition systems have been employed in numerous settings:
In numerous U.S. locations,
Continue reading Big brother is watching, with new image-recognition techniques
June 23, 2014 was a very nice day for five mathematicians: Simon Donaldson, Maxim Kontsevich, Jacob Lurie, Terence Tao and Richard Taylor. They were informed that they would be receiving the inaugural Breakthrough Prizes in Mathematics, each with a cash award of USD$3,000,000. They plan to share their good fortune.
The international, if still Euro-centric,
Continue reading Big Bucks for Big Breakthroughs: Prize recipients give three million dollar maths talks
When numbers of any sort are presented, whether in mathematics, science, business, government or finance, the default assumption is that the data presented are reasonably reliable to the last digit presented. Thus, if a light bulb is listed as using 3.14 watts, then its actual usage is presumably between 3.13 and 3.15 watts, and certainly
Continue reading Dubious digits: Is this data really that accurate?
The IPCC report’s warning
The latest draft edition of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) bluntly warns that business-as-usual increases in greenhouse gas emissions will cause “further warming and long-lasting changes” in the earth’s the climate system, with increasing likelihood of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” Specific dangers include
Continue reading Fusion energy: Hope or hype?
September 29, 2014 is the 467th birthday of Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, whose immortal Don Quixote is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of literature in any language. In fact, in 2002 the Norwegian Book Club named Don Quixote as “best literary work ever written” in their listing of the
Continue reading Tilting at windmills
The latest IPCC report
The latest draft edition of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report includes some rather stark language:
Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.
Continue reading To frack or not to frack: That’s not the question
“Experimental mathematics” has emerged in the past 25 years or so to become a competing paradigm for research in the mathematical sciences. An exciting workshop entitled Challenges in 21st Century Experimental Mathematical Computation was held at the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM), July 21-25, 2014, which explored emerging challenges of experimental
Continue reading Opportunities and challenges in experimental mathematics