Samuel Arbesman Explains The Half-Life of Facts


In Samuel Arbesman’s new book The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date, the applied mathematician examines why in the modern world, facts change all of the time.

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New Mathematical Proof of the ABC Conjecture

A pleated surface on the boundary of the convex core.

A new claim could imply that a proof of one of the most important conjectures in number theory has been solved, which would be an astounding achievement. Mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki of Kyoto University in Japan has released a 500-page proof of the abc conjecture that proposes a relationship between whole numbers (related to the Diophantine equations).

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Century-Old Goldbach Weak Conjecture Closer to Being Solved


The weak Golbach conjecture states that you can break up any odd number into the sum of, at most, three prime numbers. Prime numbers cannot be evenly divided by any other number than themselves or 1.

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Patterns of Flocks of Starlings Mathematically Behave How Magnets Would Move


Starlings, a small to medium-sized passerine bird in the family Sturnidae, achieve extraordinary coordination in flight and they behave mathematically as metals being magnetized. A new study published its findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Probabilities of Collecting All Pennies from 1959 to 1997 are Easily Feasible


Many coin collectors start their numismatic collections with pennies, and trying to get pennies from every year within a given range. This process, while seemingly daunting, is straightforward and will take about 684 pennies to find all of the pennies from 1959 to 1997, since they are still in circulation.

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Earth Loses 50,000 Tonnes of Mass Every Year


According to some calculations, the Earth is losing 50,000 tonnes of mass every single year, even though an extra 40,000 tonnes of space dust converge onto the Earth’s gravity well, it’s still losing weight.

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Touch Pilot S01E01 (Fox)

Touch promo poster, via Wikipedia

I was initially surprised that Kiefer Sutherland was back on network television, but I have always like 24 so I was actually looking forward to the series on Fox. This series was written and created by Tim Kring, who’s known for Heroes. The series uses some of the techniques from that series, so if you’ve watched Heroes, you’ll feel a familiar when watching this. This series is about a dad struggling with his autistic son, who can see strange patterns in numbers. Everything ends up connected, and Martin Bohm soon discovers this.

While I wanted to like the series, I have to say that I was disappointed, mainly because of the  mathematical elements in the series, which are rudimentary to say the least. It’s definitely not a show aimed at anyone familiar with numbers, patterns, and sequences. That being said, the pilot was watched by over 12 million people and the series was picked up for a full season, so maybe it will improve. I’ll give it a shot to see where it goes, but I wasn’t that impressed.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

Continue reading “Touch Pilot S01E01 (Fox)”

The Algorithmic Approach to the Mathematics of Cramming


Students tend to take far from optimal ways to assimilate information, especially when it comes to exams. Scientists Tim Novikoff, Jon Kleinbert, and Steve Strogatz decided to take a mathematical approach to the way that students learn, in order to find the most effective way to succeed.

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The Fractal Dimension of the US ZIP Code System: 1.78!


While most people think that ZIP codes were originally created randomly, there is actually an order to the US mail system. Since it turns out that it has a branching structure, it implies that it has a fractal dimension. Samuel Arbesman of Wired’s Social Dimension used the ZIPScribbles images created by Robert Kosara to calculate the fractal dimension of the US ZIP code system.

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Mathematician Claims Breakthrough in the Sudoku Problem


While you might just need a pencil and your brain to fill in this week’s Sudoku puzzle, an Irish mathematician used millions of hours of supercomputing time in order to solve an important open problem in the mathematics of Sudoku; the game that was initially popularized in Japan and involves filling up a 9×9 grid with the numbers 1 to 9 according to certain rules.

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