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, […]

Playing with pigs and lasers

Pigs, like humans, can get bored. Perhaps they’d like to play a game to amuse themselves? Even better, with interacting humans? A project designed to examine such possibilities is underway at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht and Wageningen University Livestock Research Department in The Netherlands. It’s called ‘Playing With Pigs’ and is “researching the complex […]

Dr. Light – Dracula & Transylvanian implications investigator

Foresighted though he may have been, when Bram Stoker wrote ‘Dracula’ in 1897 it’s unlikely that he considered the possible (future) impact on the Transylvanian economy and politico-cultural identity. But impact there is. And it’s been quite comprehensively examined by Dr. Light, Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Science & The Environment, Manchester Metropolitan […]

Math Challenge: Light Bulbs Count

Today’s Nasty Mathematics Challenge: Watch this video (taken by astronauts on the International Space Station with a camera that picks up low-intensity light, and then edited by Michael König, and sped up), and estimage the number of light bulbs whose light is visible: [vimeo]32001208[/vimeo] HINT: The task is easier (but not much) if you enlarge […]

Eating light (and nothing but!), as told by the winner who says she does not eat food

Jasmuheen explains, in this video interview from 2006, how she explains that she never eats food. A few years earlier, in the year 2000, Jasmuheen (formerly known as Ellen Greve) was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for literature, for her book “Living on Light,” which explains that although some people do eat food, they don’t ever really need to. BONUS: […]

Extraocular Phototransduction: more than meets the eye? (part 2)

We recently drew attention to the 1998 discovery at Cornell regarding the possibility of tweaking one’s cicadian rhythms by shining a bright light at the back of one’s knees. But continuing research into extraocular (outside the eye) light stimuli has turned to the possibility of a more direct route. Why not shine a light directly […]