Correcting Some Physiology in Gulliver’s Travels, After 300 Years

Editing can be a slow process. A new study suggests that a famous novel published three centuries ago could and should be edited to correct a calculation error. The study is: “Physiological Essay on Gulliver’s Travels: A Correction After Three Centuries,” Toshio Kuroki, The Journal of Physiological Sciences, epub 2019. (Thanks to Mark Dionne for […]

The Dilemma-Zone Calculation

Yellow traffic lights posed and provided an opportunity for applied mathematicians. Witness this study, published more than a half century ago: “The Problem of the Amber Signal Light in Traffic Flow,” Denos Gazis [pictured here, reportedly thrilling an audience],  Robert Herman,  and Alexei Maradudint, Operations Research, vol. 8, no. 1, 1960, pp. 112-132. The authors, […]

He multiplied two 10-digit numbers in his head, in just 7 hours

Computer access to a stack of photos can be used to boost one’s mental calculating ability, suggests this paper. Do pay attention to the thought in parentheses, at the very end of this quotation: “Multiplying 10-digit numbers using Flickr: The power of recognition memory,” Andrew Drucker [pictured here], 2011. The author, at MIT, explains: In […]

A smidgen of mathematical levity, plus 58 minutes

In this first video, Fry and Laurie present a calculated bit of mathematical levity [HT Jennifer Ouellette]: In the following video, Professor Bikash Kumar Dey of the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Bombay, presents 58 minutes without levity. It’s his famous “Lecture – 22 Probability of Error Calculation”. Enjoy, if you will: BONUS: “Lecture – 24 […]

The risk of regulating risk, they write calculatingly….

Finance puzzles many people. This new study may make finance less puzzling, or more puzzling, or both: “Any Regulation of Risk Increases Risk,” Philip Z. Maymin [pictured here] and Zakhar G. Maymin, arXiv:1004.1670v4, April 20, 2012. The first author identifies himself as Assistant Professor of Finance and Risk Engineering at NYU-Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The second author […]

The unexpected end of 2011 (an Ig Nobel tribute)

This year, 2011, is ending—unexpectedly—in December. To celebrate, we pay tribute to the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics. The prize was awarded to: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982 [and whose book is pictured […]

Calculations: Insurance for clowns

Clown insurance is for clowns, not for persons potentially afflicted by them. Insurance companies offer it to clowns because clowns – no matter what you may thoughtlessly think of them – are people, and bad things can happen to anyone. Clown insurance exists, as a distinct product category, thanks to the mathematical discipline called risk assessment. […]