Courtesy Mark RyanThis is a repost from last year because it's once again March 14 (3/14), and that means it's once again Pi Day! That's the day set aside to recognize "the ratio of any Euclidean circle's circumference to its diameter", or in mathematical terms, it's an irrational number that begins with:
3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609... and on and on and on, yadda, yadda, yadda. (It wasn't intentional but I like how the number has gone off the page toward infinity.)
Pi Day was created by a physicist named Larry Shaw (aka The Prince of Pi) back in 1988. The symbol for pi is that thing pictured above. (Yes, it's a blueberry pi - my favorite).
Courtesy Science BuzzThere seems to be something seriously messed with the Buzz point system. I say this because lately I’ve noticed my point totals have been jumping all over the place like a kangaroo in withdrawal. At first, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. I’ve been actively contributing to the blog, doing my part, yet I seem to keep losing points rather than gaining them. But now I think I know the answer.
I’m assuming most of you are familiar with the Science Buzz point system but for those who aren’t, here’s how it works: Each time you contribute something to the blog –be it a story, a photo, or whatever - you get points. The total you’ve accumulated is shown each time you add something, and is also displayed in your “full profile” under the My Account link near the top of the page. You can also see where you rank on the leaderboard. It means nothing of course and there are no prizes for having the most points but there is a sense of satisfaction derived from having more than anyone else, especially JGordon.
Anyway, when I first noticed my points dropping earlier this year, I didn’t give it much thought. But soon my curiosity (and suspicion) was raised, so I started collecting data, which has revealed some very startling numbers. Back on March 26th, I had 1584 points. Four days later and after I had added 8 points for a new story I still had 1584. Where did those 8 points go? I don’t know. It’s a mystery. About 3 weeks later, I managed to increase my number to 1598. But just 3 days after that and after adding at least 4 points it was down to 1587. Goodness, gracious, godness, Agnes! How can that be, I wondered. But then, somehow I managed to cross the 1600-point threshold on May 24, when the total stood at 1606 points. This put me at ease, for at least a little while. And then on May 28th my heart soared when I saw I had a whopping 1619 points. That was the pinnacle, the acme, the proverbial Mount Everest of my Buzz point totals during my data collection period. All was now right with the world. But my elation was short lived, and soon after things started to go downhill. Throughout early June my points hovered around (mostly below) the 1600 mark, dipping as low as 1552 on the 30th. And July’s trend hasn’t been much better. Bottom line: my total has managed to snake its way from a high of 1619 in May to an incredible 1564 today despite posting several dozen stories, which, on average, should have added at least 6 points per post!!?? Whatever was going on, there had to be a logical, scientific explanation, so I compiled a list of possibilities.
1. A major computer program glitch.
2. Crazy mathematics
3. The numbers are tied directly to the Dow-Jones Industrials.
4. A powerful black hole resides in the center of the point system.
5. Global warming.
These are all valid possibilities, but after serious consideration none of them stood up to close scientific scrutiny. So I was left with the only other reasonable explanation: gremlins - those little tormentors who go about sabotaging machinery and causing general mayhem (click here for actual footage). Somehow the little buggers have managed to infiltrate the Buzz point system and are making my life miserable.
I think in my case the gremlins are being led by an especially devious one related to the Norse deity known as Loki. And I suspect he hangs out in the Exhibit Department here at the Science Museum. However, I don’t think he’s clever enough to act alone, so I’m almost certain he’s had co-conspirators helping him with his mischief. But now that their plot has been exposed, I can get back to some serious point accumulation. And I should add that with this post I have finally surpassed JGordon. Not that it makes any difference, mind you.
Courtesy gr8mattResearchers at the University fo Chicago have published a new report in PNAS that shows math anxiety in elementary school teachers (which are predominantly female) is passed on to the young girls in their classes. The research is reported on the Smithsonian's Surprising Science blog site.
Using a desktop computer, a scientist says he's calculated pi to almost 2.7 trillion digits! That's enough information to fill more than a thousand gigabytes (one terrabyte) of hard drive space, and would take more than 49,000 years of around-the-clock counting to count at one number per second. Could this mean more slices for everyone? Let's hope so.
In this video, Robert Lang explains how combining origami, math, and engineering principles can produce almost any shape imaginable. Some applications include folding up mirrors for transport into space and folding up stents to fit into blood vessels. Click this to watch the video
Today, March 14th, is Pi Day, a celebration of the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi is simply represented by the number 3.14 but with it being an irrational number, math geeks around the world mark the day impressing each other with how many numbers after the decimal point they can recite from memory. Sounds like a blast.
Pi is also a movie by Darren Aronosky and the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet.
Math is fun, i enjoy it a lot, one day, it will help me to the top, I like to do math, cause it is cool, i like to do math in high school, math is like poetry with a neverending flow, math will lead me to where i want to go.
Courtesy Claudio Rocchini Surfer dude, Garrett Lisi lives in his van on a beach in Maui. Using a type of algebra he calls E8, Garrett has developed an exceptionally simple theory of everything -- a grand unified theory that explains all the elementary particles, as well as gravity. (link to pdf of paper found below)
Lisi describes how gravity, the standard model bosons, and three generations of fermions can be unified as parts of an E8 superconnection. This unified field theory attempts to describe all fundamental interactions that physicists have observed in nature, and stands as a possible theory of everything, unifying Albert Einstein's general relativity with the standard model of particle physics.
"I think the universe is pure geometry - basically, a beautiful shape twisting and dancing over space-time. Since E8 is perhaps the most beautiful structure in mathematics, it is very satisfying that nature appears to have chosen this geometry."
"This is an 'all or nothing' kind of theory -- meaning it's going to end up agreeing with and predicting damn near everything, or it's wrong. At this stage of development, it could go either way." Garrett Lisi
Warning, even though I have a degree in physics education, the material presented was way over my head. I will watch it again though, because it does give me a glimpse of how mathematics can lead to understanding, perhaps even someday making possible something like electrogravity. Click this link if the video below does not work
Garrett Lisi forum frequently asked personal questions
Garrett Lisi forum frequently asked questions about E8 and Theory of Everything
31 page paper (pdf) An exceptionally simple theory of everything
In 1904, Ludwig Prandtl, considered the father of modern aerodynamics, derived the exact mathematical conditions for flow separation to occur, but only in two dimensions for steady flows.
A century later, George Haller, a visiting professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT led a group that explained the mathematics behind unsteady separation in two dimensions. This month, his team reports completing the theory by extending it to three dimensions. Papers on the experiments and theory are being published in the Sept. 25 issue of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics and in the September issue of Physics of Fluids, respectively. Haller's coauthors are Amit Surana, now at United Technologies; MIT student Oliver Grunberg; and Gustaaf Jacobs, now on the faculty at San Diego State University.
The equation will forever change the face of advanced fluid dynamics and will have a profound impact on many industries, including the aerospace and automotive industries. This quote from Daily Tech Review shows that this breakthough has theorists in fluid mechanics excited;
The new work -- if it survives the extensive peer review that is to come -- will likely go down as the greatest scientific advance of the decade. The research has already survived a strenuous initial round of peer review.
Equally important, this month Thomas Peacock, the Atlantic Richfield Career Development Associate Professor and his colleagues report important experimental work verifying the theory.
"This is the tip of the iceberg, but we've shown that this theory works," Peacock said.
Understanding how surfaces effect how an object flows through a fluid (including air) can make big differences in maximizing performance. Did the new swimsuits make a difference in breaking world records in Olympic swimming competition? How about the surfaces of baseballs, golf balls, and tennis balls? The effects on miles per gallon for autos and airplanes can save millions (billions?) of dollars.
Source: MIT News
Courtesy WikipediaWho says math can’t be fun? Check out this very cool slide show of images now on display at the University of Liverpool. Made with computers by mathematicians from around the world, the stunning images are actually visual representations of a mathematical theory known as dynamical systems. Mathematician Lasse Rempe narrates and explains it better than I can. Some of the images remind me of the Stargate sequence from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.