Mathematics

By Peter Gwynne, Inside Science – From raisins to fingerprints, and from tree bark to the surface of the brain, wrinkles appear throughout nature. But scientists have struggled to explain how wrinkles form.

Now two independent research teams at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge have developed key insights into the process.

One group has developed a mathematical theory, confirmed experimentally, that predicts how wrinkles take shape on curved surfaces. The other explains in more general terms how layered materials form different types of wrinkly patterns.

Many people have heard of the Golden Ratio, a ratio that is the midpoint between asymmetry and symmetry - when "the whole is to the larger as the larger is to the smaller". In numerical terms, it is 1.618
https://www.flickr.com/photos/djwtwo/6835022968/

Pi Day – on March 14th – will be particularly memorable this year: the date can be written 3/14 by those who opt for the month then day format, which is Pi to two decimal places, 3.14.

If you include the year this year then that gives 3/14/15, which is Pi to four decimal places, 3.1415.

This happens only once a century, and the Museum of Mathematics in New York City, among others, is taking Pi Day 2015 one step further, by celebrating at 9:26 pm, adding three more digits to Pi, 3.1415926.

Why do people cooperate? This isn’t a question anyone seriously asks. The answer is obvious: we cooperate because doing so is usually synergistic. It creates more benefit for less cost and makes our lives easier and better.

Maybe it’s better to ask why don’t people always cooperate. But the answer here seems obvious too. We don’t do so if we think we can get away with it. If we can save ourselves the effort of working with someone else but still gain the benefits of others’ cooperation. And, perhaps, we withhold cooperation as punishment for others’ past refusal to collaborate with us.

It's that time of year - the NCAA tournament, called "March Madness", when office pools all across the United States have people researching teams and reading predictions to try and optimize their chances of winning money by predicting basketball games.

They are, sadly, doomed to fail.

Last year, Warren Buffett offered $1 billion for a perfect winning bracket, but the highest scoring bracket among ESPN.com subscribers was still 18 games off - and those people pay to know sports.
Clinical trials rely on statistics to show whether drugs are more effective than placebo pills. But how can we be certain?

How should scientists interpret their data?

Emerging from their labs after days, weeks, months, even years spent measuring and recording, how do researchers draw conclusions about the results of their experiments?

The concept of randomness has intrigued great minds for as long as history of great thinkers has been recorded.  From the nature of wind to drunks running into lampposts on their way home, scholars have been intrigued with making random predictable. 

A group of chemists say they have challenged traditional interpretations of randomness by computationally generating random and mechanically rigid arrangements of two-dimensional hard disks, think pennies with no thickness, for the first time.
Researchers focusing on a new way to discuss statistical mechanics have modeled "World War Z", an oral history of the first zombie war, to explore how an "actual" zombie outbreak might play out in the U.S.  

By Ker Than,  Inside Science

(Inside Science) -- Opinions rarely form in a vacuum. People are heavily influenced by the opinions of others in their social networks, whether they be real or virtual. Some people are not open to new ideas.

These are the zealots, who proselytize an opinion -- the superiority of Apple products, for example, or skepticism about climate change -- in the hopes of convincing others, while stubbornly resisting being influenced themselves.

Optimization algorithms seek to find the minimum values of mathematical functions in engineering. It's how engineers evaluate design trade-offs, assess control systems and how people find patterns in data.

One practical way to solve a difficult optimization problem is to first reduce it to a related but much simpler problem, then gradually add complexity back in, solving each new problem in turn and using its solution as a guide to solving the next one.

If only someone could find a way to characterize optimization theoretically. You know, optimize it.