Thursday, June 29, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
Link to the NAS courtesy of The Scientific Activist.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
This is the part that I think is interesting."ZetaGrid is a distributed computing project attempting to calculate as many zeros as possible. It had reached 1029.9 billion zeros as of Feb. 18, 2005. Gourdon (2004) used an algorithm of Odlyzko and Schönhage to calculate the first 10 x 1012 zeros (Pegg 2004, Pegg and Weisstein 2004)...All known values of t corresponding to nontrivial zeros appear to be irrational (Havil 2003, p. 195; Derbyshire 2004, p. 384)."
So for the billions of non-trivial zeroes calculated to date, the real part, t, appears to be irrational. I have to tell you that if I had the necessary knowledge, I wouldn't want to prove the hypothesis but rather I'd like to prove that the real part, t, is irrational for all non-trivial zeroes.
In the meantime, here is a rather interesting article about the Riemann Hypothesis and the number 42 (the answer to everything *grin*) - Marcus du Sautoy, "Prime Numbers Get Hitched", Seed Magazine" (03/27/2006). I found the link to this while reading about the Riemann Zeta Function on Wikipedia. It's a really cool paper talking about the link between the Riemann Hypothesis and physics. Go take a look.
I have to say that at times I really hate Blogger. I had the whole bloody thing formatted so that it looked right (done in NoteTab Light and previewed), but when I copied it into Blogger the formatting went all to hell. sheesh
"Donate to what?" you ask.
Here's the deal. From Help the SB gang help schools -
So go on over to the Good Math, Bad Math donor site and GIVE! GIVE! GIVE!
What we're doing is trying to get people to donate to DonorsChoose.org. That's an organization where teachers who's classrooms lack the supplies that they need can submit proposals, and donors can select specific proposals that they want to support. Each of the participants from SBs has picked a bunch of proposals that we think are valuable, and we're asking you guys, our readers, to look at those proposals, and donate some money to whichever ones you think are worth supporting.
ScienceBlogs is matching donated funds up to $10,000! As of yesterday (6/17/06), $8498.73 had been raised and will be matched.
Math, Math Education
Friday, June 16, 2006
Off and on for awhile, I've been wondering what would happen if I wrote a post full of names of people like Oprah and Angelina Jolie, or concepts like global warming and evolution, or the ever popular sex. Would people who googled on those come here and take the time to read my idiot ramblings, or would they just be pissed off at the mis-direction? What would happen if I used somewhat less mundane phrases like "theory of mind" or "calculating rate of decay?"
What do you think? Who will be the first to verbally "kick my ass?" Or will someone, for reasons unknown, get interested and maybe even wander over to my Honor's Research blog?
Instead, I could share something with you - The Paradox of Science by Edward L. Thorndike, from the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 75, No. 4 (1935), pp. 287-294. This is a really interesting paper and is available on JSTOR. (I'd give you the link to the paper, but your can't download it unless you happen to be accessing through a subscribing entity like my college.)
by Edward L. Thorndike
(read April 18, 1935)
Intelligent men who know the facts of science have relinquished most of their hopes of supernatural control of the forces of nature. No matter how devotedly they worship their God, they do not ask him to turn men into animals, or send rain for the just and lightning against the unjust. No devil is blamed for sending a plague of infantile paralysis, and no deity is expected to remove it. Where bullets, blessed or unblessed, go is determined by the laws of ballistics. Whether a gift to a beggar will benefit or injure him is determined by facts of psychology and the social sciences, not by the blessing of the church. With few or no exceptions, nature takes its course undisturbed by vows, sacrifices, and prayers.
Science, studying the ways of nature, finds them to be so regular and reliable that the assumption that they are perfectly so has gradually become almost an axiom in science and its applications. In the faith that nature will not change her ways (or customs, or habits, or laws, or behavior in the frame of space and time, or whatever the reader likes to call them) bridges are built, trains are run, diseases are treated or prevented, crops are grown, children are taught. We no longer fear, as men once did, that the sun may not bring summer again. We do not pay sacrifices to control the seasons, but trust the uniformity of nature and our predictions of the earth's path for thousands of years. We have abandoned prayers to the goddess of fertility to bring the seed to harvest, believing that the same seed in the same soil with the same climate will always produce the same result.
Supernatural forces were often irregular and capricious. In spite of one's best efforts to induce them to act in a certain way, one might be outbidden; and sometimes all bids were rejected in favor of some darling of the gods. But the forces known to science always produce the same result under the same conditions.
In human affairs precisely the same conditions rarely, if ever, recur. Perhaps no two typhoid infections ever were absolutely alike; almost certainly no two cases of typhoid infection studied have been absolutely alike. But pathology is confident that if identical bacilli invaded identical human bodies and were treated identically, the results would be identical.
There has never been another depression just like the depression of 1929- ?; there has never been a war identical with the World War. The situation of the world on January 1, 1935 never existed before and never will again. There probably has never existed a single village the conditions of which were identical at any two moments; nor any two villages which were identical in nature. Science cannot roll identical villages down a depression again and again to test the laws of economics as it rolls ivory balls down an inclined plane to test the uniformity of the laws of motion. But it has confidence that if the same human elements could be subjected to the same conditions, they would display the same outcome. It believes that the same brain or mind acted upon by the same stimuli will give forth the same thoughts, feelings and acts. Physiology and psychology use that belief just as physics used the belief that the same mass at the same distance from the earth's center will, other things being equal, fall toward it with the same speed.
Nature's ways are not only regular; but to the best of science's knowledge and belief they are also immutable. Nature may add new customs if new things and conditions develop, but it does not change its customs of behavior with the same things and conditions. Science expects the combination of oxygen and hydrogen to make water a million years from now if conditions remain the same. If a certain equipment of genes under certain conditions of environment made John Doe born in 1900 a murderer, that same equipment of genes in that same environment will make Richard Roe born in 1950 a murderer except for supernatural or extra-natural forces.
In proportion as power is taken from personal deities and lodged in the uniform and stable ways of nature, man abandons all appeals, bribes, and inducements such as might move a super-man who enjoyed material gifts, praise, submission, respect, or affection. It is more reasonable to find out the course of nature and make the best of it. Propitiation gives way to observation and prediction. Science aims to learn nature's ways so as to know what will result from any concantenation of events. The present goal of science is to understand and predict every event in the world as it can now understand and predict the movements of familiar heavenly bodies or the swings of a pendulum.
But, by a unique paradox, science, which finds nature's ways invariable and unchangeable, changes nature as the personal appeals of religion never could. Science, which accepts the course of nature, controls it to an extent and degree far beyond the powers of priests or magicians. Science can make lightning and direct its course; can stop plagues; can double a harvest; can breed new strains of animals (and of men, if human laws and customs would permit).
In proportion as we treat the world as regular and resistant to outside influences we influence it. If science in the next hundred years should describe the ways of human nature and behavior as accurately as it has by now described the nature and behavior of the planets and stars, so that man could predict what men would do as he now predicts eclipses, he would increase his power to control the fate of men. Every immutable "law" of human physiology and psychology would turn into an instrument to change human life. By the same token, if, by science, I could prophesy exactly what I would think or feel or do in every conceivable situation that life could offer, and knew that my thoughts and feeling and actions in each case were as inevitable as the pull of the magnet on steel, I would thereby enormously increase my power to change my fate. Every fact of the universe which science takes from the realm of fortuity, miracle and caprice, and puts under the rule of the regular and changeless ways of nature, means one more addition to control over nature. The more the world is determined, the more man can work his will upon it.
The explanation of this paradox should be instructive and comforting to men and women who are disturbed because the march of science seems to reduce the world to a mere machine, to abolish the freedom of the will and eliminate human responsibility.
They have thought that the paradox was a dilemma - that if the ways of nature including human nature were invariable and immutable, then no acts of man could change nature - that one must choose between science and freedom.
The paradox is not a dilemma. Science does not necessitate fatalism. The uniformity of nature is consistent with changes in nature made by human thought and action, especially as guided by science itself. This is possible because science is a part of nature, because knowledge is a natural force, because human ideas, wants, and purposes are part and parcel of the stream of natural events. Your consideration of whether to say yes or no in certain situations is an event in nature. Your decisions yesterday to say No and today to say Yes are events in nature. Both have their consequences in perfect accord with the ways of nature. but your "No" of yesterday may have changed the world by the death of a prisoner whom you refused to pardon, and your "Yes" of today may have changed you from a bachelor to a husband and been a link in a chain of causation resulting in the birth of a child who in 1983 will discover a cure for cancer.
The essential facts are as follows: The course of nature is partly repetitive or cyclical, as in the movements of the planets or the turn of a motor, and partly original or creative, as in the development of a new species of animals, or the construction of the Panama Canal. The distinction is not, however, sharp. Even the most repetitive parts may change. Indeed they must if conditions change. Even the most novel events consist of old elements in new combinations. The net total is a universe changing very little in some respects and very much in others, but surely changing from 100000 B.C. to now, and equally surely from now till tomorrow. Within the brains of men, the changes are so numerous and rapid that a year's crop within New York City alone could not even be listed by a thousand chroniclers in a life time.
Parts of the world change other parts. So changes in the moon will cause changes in the tides; the birth of a baby changes the habits of a household. Notable among changes of one part of nature by another are those initiated by changes in human brains. To them are due buildings, mines, farms, tools, and all the material paraphernalia of civilization; laws, customs, creeds, and all present forms of social institutions; schools, libraries, laboratories, and all the apparatus of science and letters.
The changes initiated in human brains are on the whole serviceable in satisfying human wants. Those which are outcomes of impartial scientific observation and inference discovering nature's ways, have been specially successful in satisfying human wants. They operate by changing his own behavior into forms more suitable to obtain satisfaction from the rest of nature, and by changing the rest of nature into forms that suit man's needs better. They work within nature, as regularly as any of its habits. Man is creative, not because he is in part supernatural or extra-natural and imposes a super- or extra-natural will on nature, but precisely because he is, in part or altogether, a natural object, linked in the chain of natural causation, and playing a role in nature's long drama. The fundamental basis of that drama may be very simple, nothing but moving electrons and protons which perhaps have always been and always will be the same, but its actual course is anything but the same from moment to moment. It constantly creates new forms for itself, and parts of it known as men share in that creation.
One need not be in despair because science teaches that the world is a great self-contained machine whose operation no god or devil can alter. If so, it is a peculiar sort of machine which alters itself and has produced the Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, Beethoven's symphonies, and all the truth, goodness and beauty that man knows. If so, man is a part of it and is constantly altering it. His duty and his pleasure in respect of it will be much the same whether deities outside it are or are not active to help or hinder him.
No one should feel that nay zest will be lost from life if science proves all of nature to operate according to regular customs so that an omniscient historian at the end of the world could honestly say that never had the same set of conditions failed to produce the same result. The zest of life does not consist in fortuity and ignorance of what will happen. It would not be increased, for example, if days and nights come by chance like the red and black of a roulette series. It is increased rather than lessened by the possibility of predicting what will happen in new situations from knowledge of the regular behavior of their components, provided there is enough novelty and surprise. There will be enough, surely, for the next thousand years, and probably forever. The discovery of nature's uniformities by science leads to creative action that increases the amount and proportion of novelty, surprise, and new discovery.
The threat of a universe without hope because the forces in it must inevitably determine every item of its future and produce results which an omniscient observer a billion years ago could have foretold is an idle threat. In the nature of the case there could not have been any such observer then or now. But if there could have been, and if he had left a record of what could happen until A.D. 10000, and if his record had been found in A.D. 1935 and verified as correct by the occurrences say to A.D. 1975, it would include the fact that science profited by it from 1935 to 1975 to increase man's control over the rest of nature and inaugurated the era about 1940 since known as the "Era of Hope" when man could foretell the future and control his fate as never before. The best hopes we have are those got by the predictive power of science. Every advance in prediction means a gain in valid hope and a loss for disappointments.
No one need fear that science will diminish human freedom. On the contrary it greatly increases the only freedom that any reasonable being can desire. The freedom of the will has meant and still means different things, some of which are of no consequence whatever to human welfare, and some of which are highly undesirable. It sometimes means simply that there is a small margin of sheer chance or fortuity in the universe. For example, electrons might vary slightly one from another in unknown and unpredictable ways, but the total or average behavior of any atom composed of them might be perfectly regular and dependable. All our chemistry and physiology would remain true in spite of such uncertainty about the behavior of single electrons (or indeed of single atoms). A margin of fortuity in the behavior of electrons would be of no consequence in relation to the question of whether persons have a freedom of will lacked by dogs and cats (or to any question about persons, dogs, or cats).
Another meaning locates this undetermined margin in the higher animals, especially man, asserting that human choices are occasionally or in part unpredictable, unaccountable. If this be so, it is regrettable, since it would be a cause of confusion and error. Occasionally the best of men might choose the worst of courses, or the worst of men upset reasonable expectations. Freedom is a bad name for it, for it would really be bondage to chance.
The doctrines of theology and of intelligent people in general are wisely not concerned with margins of fortuity or unpredictability, but with the freedom of a person from domination by circumstances, or with the freedom of some core or kernel of a person from domination by circumstances or by some more superficial and temporary features of him. There are many possible variations on this general theme. Thus some would say that men are not the creatures of temporary circumstances, but bear, each within his own nature, tendencies to favor and cherish certain courses of thought and action and to reject or discard others. By birth and training, a man acquires a core of personality or should which can dominate circumstances and change their consequences. Nothing in science denies this. It might deny that nay extra-natural force implanted these souls in babies, crediting rather the genes in their chromosomes. Others would mean by the freedom of the will the power of a man's deeper self to direct his life with or against the pull of external influences, or superficial motives, or casual enticements. "I am the captain of my fate, I am the master of my soul." Nothing in science denies this. On the contrary, the more fully man knows the ways of nature, including human nature, the better able will his deeper self be to rule the external, casual, transient, and superficial.
Everywhere it is the same. Science transforms a world of fairies, demons, magic, charms, and luck into the dependable world of "natural law." Every addition it makes to its catalog of nature's changeless habits helps man to change nature, including himself. The uniformity of nature does not take power away from man, but from fortuity or chance and from alleged forces which operate partly or wholly by chance.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
delusion kwashiorkor spleenwort bluet greenwich posterior hiram henequen adrian
I've already trashed the email, but I wonder if the message was as "creative" *grin*
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
From Yahoo News - Panel recommends firing Colo. professor
The fifth paragraph finally gets past the bs and tells the why of the recommended firing - "The school's investigation focused on allegations that Churchill committed research misconduct and plagiarism."
Now it's the last paragraph that confuses me. "Churchill's case has been cited by conservatives as an example of how universities have overstocked their faculties with leftists. Others raised concerns about academic freedom."
What does research misconduct and plagarism have to do with his political views (they are pretty obnoxious) or academic freedom?
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Sunday, June 11, 2006
If you want to believe that the universe and the earth were created by some supernatural being some time in the (relatively) recent past, that's your choice. If you refuse to understand the scientific process and that evolution is a fact, that's your choice. But please don't try to use mathematics to prove it! Math and mathematicians get a bad enough rap as it is.
Math, bad Science
Friday, June 09, 2006
I really need a job or something that reasonably approximates a regular income! I'm close to the panic stage where I just grab the first thing that comes up even when I know it's a mistake. But for tonight, I'm ignoring that and hoping that all the resumes that went out this week will get me something other than silence or a "thanks, but no thanks" letter.
Just to add to the noise in my house, the erstwhile housemate got some chicks. Here are the babies right after they went into their "growing up" pen. When they get big enough, they'll go outside with the other chickens. Baby chicks are noisy and make a mess. It's only been 24 hours, but I can't wait. Sort of like the kid in the car asking every 5 minutes, "are we there yet?"
I have to change a couple of links on the blog since two of my favorites (Mixing Memory and Science & Politics) have moved over to the SEED ScienceBlogs. Science & Politics is now A Blog Around The Clock. I'm adding ScienceBlogs to my links as well. Lots of very good science blogs now residing there. I have a habit of landing there for ridiculously long periods of time. Really, go check them out.
Monday, June 05, 2006
First was the math courtesy of Teresa - an entry on Slashdot, Chinese Mathematicians Prove Poincare Conjecture. The last I'd read was that the Russian mathematician, Perelman, had a proof that was being verified. It seems that I'm not the only one on that track judging by the question on Ars Mathematica.
Second were several blog entries at ScienceBlogs referring to this story from Reuters - Lioness in zoo kills man who invoked God
I have way too much time on my hands with no job.
Mon Jun 5, 2006 9:37 AM ET
KIEV (Reuters) - A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday.
"The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.
Math and Misc
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Here are the four Indian Runner babies. When these guys grow up they are the silliest looking things - almost like cartoon ducks. The white ones look the most like cartoons. I found a site once where Indian Runners were described as "bowling pins on legs." The white ones really look like that. *grin* These runners will probably be a little less upright.
Here are the Muscovies. Well eight of the babies came out in the rain with momma. A ninth was in the nice dry house.
We also have two geese sitting on eggs and another duck that wants to but she's trying to sit on chicken eggs. LOL
Friday, June 02, 2006
Even though it looks like I'll have to take the NH state motto rather too seriously, I've got a few links for your weekend edification.
Since the subject of channeling our inner beach bunnies has arisen in the great email sister conversation today, your first link is from Yahoo - Top Ten Beaches. Pick your favorite and get ready to rock and roll with your inner beach bunny or inner surfer dude.
I just love it when people have fun with math. Now if you combine statistics (the brunt of many math jokes) with the environment and feminism, you get Feminism: Destroying the Planet. Thanks to Science and Politics for highlighting this. (BTW, S & P is about to go big time over at the SEED ScienceBlogs. If you're into science, check out the site. It's very cool.)
This article was on Yahoo News yesterday. I'm fascinated whenever scientist discover new species, or extinct species that are living, or anything to do with evolution. If I ever get bored with the math and psychology stuff, I'll just have to go after another degree in whatever is required to do this kind of research.
Scientists discover 8 new species AP - Thu Jun 1, 4:34 PM ET
JERUSALEM - Israeli scientists have discovered an ancient ecosystem containing eight previously unknown species in a lake inside a cave, where they were completely sheltered from the outside world for millions of years.
Finally we have this, also from Yahoo - Mona Lisa's voice finally heard. This may be even too weird for me.
So that's it for tonight. Enjoy your weekend. (Billy Holiday is playing on my mp3 right now. What a way to start the weekend. *grin*)
Thursday, June 01, 2006
This kitty has a story of sorts. He moved in under my front porch the end of last summer. Cats and kittens get dumped here all the time. There's a dairy farm down the road and we have chickens, ducks, and geese so I guess people think that it's an appropriate place to toss out their unwanted kitties. I usually bribe the kitties with food to get them on the porch and then call the local humane society. But this guy was like a ghost. No way was he showing his face. We put water and food out every day, but the minute anyone even looked out the door he ran away. This went on until late fall when we had a really bad cold snap - below zero weather at night. The first cold night, he still wouldn't come on the porch. The second cold night he slept inside the little shelter we put on the porch. The next morning he let us pick him up and take him to the vet. This was the first time I got a good look at the boy. Skinny, but very pretty. The vet checked for a microchip (none) and gave him all his shots and a worming. I called the humane society to see if someone was looking for the boy - no one was. So, we kept him. Well actually one of my housemates did. (Poor boy got neutered shortly thereafter.)
After old kitty died, this guy started spending a lot of time with me and sleeping in my bed. And here I thought that I'd finally get to have the larger part of the bed to myself. LOL Last week my housemate told him that I was his mother, so I guess I now have a kitty. A blue-eyed kitty. A not overly bright kitty. But he sleeps in my bed and tries to bite my toes! It could be worse.