What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is a bit like the weather. Everybody talks about the topic but nobody does anything much about it. Sure students are admonished not to and punished when caught; but that is about it, other than out-sourcing much of the issue to money-making outfits like turnitin.com. There are many reasons for this . . . → Read More: Plagiarism is a symptom not a disease
The scientific world is suffering through a rash of examples of the sad consequences of the “hype now, hide later” approach to scientific news.
Stem cell breakthrough?
On 15 May 2013, a team of researchers from Portland, Oregon, Boston, Massachusetts, Thailand and South Korea announced in the journal Cell that they had succeeded in producing . . . → Read More: Hype now, hide later: No way to do scientific research
During the past two weeks, two truly major results were announced in the realm of (analytic) number theory, namely the mathematics of integers in general and of prime numbers in particular. Prime numbers, i.e., 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23 … are the building blocks of arithmetic and have been studied seriously . . . → Read More: Two breakthrough results in number theory
Frank W.J. Olver died in Rockville, Maryland, on April 23, 2013, at the age of 88. He was a world-renowned applied mathematician and one of the most widely recognized contemporary scholars in the mathematical field of special functions.
Born in Croydon, England, Olver received B.Sc, M.SC and D.SC degrees in mathematics from the University of . . . → Read More: Frank W.J. Olver (1924-2013)
The Australian government’s ironic and perverse decision to better fund schools at the expense of already-promised university funding would make a good Yes, Prime Minister episode. Sadly such colossal stupidity is no laughing matter.
The UK’s coalition government seems similarly intent on damaging its University sector with huge increases in fees. In California, the best state University system in the . . . → Read More: The mad politics of science funding
Kenneth Appel, who along with Wolgang Haken, in 1976 gave the first proof of the four-color theorem, died on 19 April 2013, at the age of 80.
Appel was employed as an actuary and also served in the U.S. Army before completing his Ph.D. in mathematics in 1959. After working for a few years at the . . . → Read More: The colorful life of the four-color theorem: A tribute to Kenneth Appel
The world of economics was shaken two weeks ago with the report that a key paper and accompanying book in the field of macroeconomics (which have been cited by Paul Ryan and by other politicians internationally in their calls for austerity and debt reduction) is in error, the result of a faulty Excel . . . → Read More: Fraud, foolishness and error in scientific research
Harvard faculty Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff are two of the most respected and influential academic economists active today.
On April 16, 2013, doctoral student Thomas Herndon and professors Michael Ash and Robert Pollin, at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, released the results of their analysis of two 2010 papers by Reinhard and Rogoff, papers . . . → Read More: Reliability, reproducibility and the Reinhart-Rogoff error
E.O. Wilson is truly one of the great scientists of our time. In addition to his very extensive portfolio of important and painstaking academic publications, he has won two Pulitzer prizes for general nonfiction. Wilson has fearlessly ventured into arenas such as sociobiology (applications of evolutionary biology to social behavior) and the boundary between religion and science, areas . . . → Read More: Why E.O. Wilson is wrong
Ever since the dawn of mathematics (e.g., in ancient Greece, c. 250 BC) and decimal computation (e.g., in India, c. 200 AD), people have wondered whether the digits of the number we call pi (= 3.1415926535…) are “random.” Answering, or at least studying this question spurred mathematicians from Archimedes, who rigorously showed 223/71 < pi . . . → Read More: Are the digits of pi random?