“It’s [wildcard] Jim, but not as we know it” — The Firm’s lyrics in academic paper titles

Which pop act has inspired the most titles for scholarly academic papers? The Beatles? The Velvet Underground? A Flock of Seagulls? A likely candidate is the 80’s UK band The Firm. Although it’s fair to say that they were never quite as famous as the pop ensembles mentioned above, nonetheless more than a dozen academic authors […]

A Game of Life: Microorganism Billiards

The angle of incidence is strongly related to the angle of “reflection” in this new real-AND-SIMULTANEOUSLY-artificial game of the mathematical gods: “Microorganism Billiards,” Colin Wahl, Joseph Lukasik, Saverio E. Spagnolie, Jean-Luc Thiffeault, arXiv 1502.01478, February 5, 2015. (Thanks to Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Wisconsin, report: “Recent […]

A new standard way to measure the threshold of personal tragedy

Some skilled psychologists see big consequences aborning in seemingly trivial things. Here’s an example. This particular seemingly trivial thing happens — or doesn’t happen — at online dating sites. The researchers describe it in a quick phrase: “as indicated by fewer first visits to their dating profiles“. This is big:  a newly-recognized threshold for assessing personal […]

Guess Bayesian-Bayesian to invent extraterrestrial stats

Today’s convoluted statistics exercise: Use Bayesian statistical methods to estimate the probability that Bayesian statistical methods will be invented by life that arises elsewhere in the universe. BACKGROUND: The Physics arXiv blog explains everything you need to know to make this estimate: The Drake equation is one of those rare mathematical beasts that has leaked into […]

Life, art, scrambled dinosaurs — again

Dinosaurs upside down, backwards, or scrambled are the subject of art yet again imitating life. In this case it’s art imitating life about the art of trying to describe life. The Onion has just published a splendid parody article called “Paleontologists: ‘We’ve Been Looking At Dinosaurs Upside Down“. But this joke has been lived out, […]