## A mathematical look at frog choruses

A further attempt to understand croaking: “Spatio-Temporal Dynamics in Collective Frog Choruses Examined by Mathematical Modeling and Field Observations,” Ikkyu Aihara, Takeshi Mizumoto, Takuma Otsuka, Hiromitsu Awano, Kohei Nagira, Hiroshi G. Okuno and Kazuyuki Aihara, Scientific Reports, vol. 4, Article 3891, January 27, 1014. The authors, at Brain Science Institute, RIKEN and Kyoto University, and […]

## Whisking in a batty 12-tone wonderland with Vi Hart

Have you ever wondered about the layers of meaning that come into play when someone writes, performs, or hears modern 12-tone music? Or the layers of meaning that some people imagine? Or the layers of meaning that other people suspect those other other people are only imagining? Vi Hart went a-wondering. She made this video […]

## Using mathematics to describe things no one knows how to describe well

Here are two cases where: (A)  people used mathematical equations to describe complicated things that nobody understands very well; and then (B) other people noticed the, uh, discrepancy. The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness: “It seemed incredible to Brown, as though it had been made up. But the number was no invention. […]

## Ig Nobel Prize winner Harold Camping achieves his doom

Ig Nobel Prize winner Harold Camping is dead. Camping shared the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize for mathematics. That 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), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who […]

## Tightropes and slacklines – the math(s)

A good number of people would probably find walking across a tightrope or slackline a decidedly non-trivial task. If it helps, assistance is at hand in the form of a comprehensive mathematical analysis which looks not only at the effect of the human on the rope, but also the rope on the human – in […]

## Applying bacteria to solve the Burnt Pancake Problem

The Burnt Pancake Problem — a mathematical problem whose history Simon Singh recently put in context, in an article in The Guardian — can be attacked by using bacteria. This paper explains how: “Engineering bacteria to solve the Burnt Pancake Problem,” Karmella A. Haynes [pictured here], Marian L. Broderick, Adam D. Brown, Trevor L. Butner, […]

## A washing machine filled with Legos and applied mathematics

Colin Lecher writes in Popular Science: “Random Structures from Lego Bricks and Analog Monte Carlo Procedures” is… about throwing Legos in a washing machine. And it is wonderful. Ingo Althöfer of Friedrich-Schiller University in Germany is the author of the minor masterpiece. From the introduction to the paper, allow Dr. Althöfer to explain: Within a larger experimental series we […]

## The math controversy that, they say, led to a mental breakdown

In an essay called “The Root of Infinity: It’s Surreal!“, the ThatsMath blog writes about a dark side to the power of numbers. The Cantor mentioned here is George Cantor [pictured here], who pretty much created large subsets of certain branches of mathematics : … But the extended system was hugely controversial, and for good […]

## Explaining the Tootsie Pop Algorithm

Mark Huber and Sarah Schott prepared a lecture called “Using TPA [the Tootsie Pop Algorithm] for Monte Carlo integration.” The authors are at Claremont McKenna College and Duke University, respectively. You can see their presentation online, if you want to. The algorithm can be used to try to answer the [somewhat ill-defined] question: How many licks […]

## Mathematics of Repulsive Behavior in an Exceptional Family

Mathematics sometimes is all about family. Here is one of those times: “Repulsive Behavior in an Exceptional Family,” Jeffrey Stopple [pictured here], arXiv:1108.6272, August 31, 2011. Stoppel, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, writes, using the royal “we”: “The existence of a Landau-Siegel zero leads to the Deuring-Heilbronn phenomenon, here appearing in the 1-level density in […]