Time Travel and Journal Publishing

Can journal publishers travel backwards in time? You may think the answer is no, but consider the following case. Along with Ginestra Bianconi of Queen Mary University of London, I edited a special issue of European Journal of Applied Mathematics on “Network Analysis and Modelling.” To introduce the special issue, Ginestra and I wrote an editorial. As […]

Mathematics, Failure, and the World’s Most Famous Walking Event

Have you ever calculated your chances of being allowed to participate in an event? As at least one study demonstrates, you might be surprised. The 100th International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, the world’s most famous walking event, took place last month. Over 40,000 people participated, and there are various ways that somebody can be allowed to participate in […]

New Mathematical Model Helps Explain the Strength of Interleaved Phonebooks

Phonebooks made of paper have been going out of style, but they are still of interest to physicists. A few years ago, an episode of Mythbusters explored the strength of interleaved phone books. (Also see the sequel in Mythbusters, or maybe even try it yourself.) First, some context, in case you are a child of the 21st century, and […]

Shepherd physics: Capturing a skittish lamb, using statistical physics

A trio of theoretical physicists have recently used ideas from statistical mechanics and probability theory to try to develop an optimal strategy for capturing a skittish lamb near a precipice. The situation that they model is an idealization of “the capture of a diffusing, but skittish lamb, with an approaching shepherd on the left and […]

Gilbert and Sullivan (and Cambridge, Condensed-Matter Physics, and The Elements)

Tom Lehrer once proclaimed, as part of the song “Clementine,” that songs from Gilbert and Sullivan (especially when it comes to a “rousing finale”) were “full of words and music and signifying nothing.” Of course, Gilbert and Sullivan often provide a great foundation to write a parody, as Tom Lehrer himself demonstrated in “The Elements” (and […]

New study: “The Tongue as an Excitable Medium”

A new article (published in New Journal of Physics), called “The Tongue as an Excitable Medium”, posits an explanation for a condition known as “geographic tongue” by treating the tongue as an excitable medium and conducting a mathematical analysis of pattern formation on it. Here is the abstract: Geographic tongue (GT) is a medical condition […]