Everyday, all over the world, people assemble peacefully into crowds at places such as shopping malls, sporting events, concerts and tourist sites--but crowds can shift from peaceful to unruly, even riotous, in just a few minutes given the right conditions.
The factors that cause a "charged" crowd to reach a "tipping point" and erupt into violence are not well understood by scientists because crowd behavior is so difficult to study. No one wants to incite a riot for the sake of science and surveys of individuals about their behavior as part of a crowd have not been that reliable.
"You really are a vacuum fluctuation / You're as cuddly as a fractal, you're as fuzzy as multi-instanton knots, Mr. El Naschie."
Perhaps those would really be the words had Dr. Seuss known about M.S. El Nashchie. A Christmas Eve shout-out to Slashdot (news for nerds) for this story
. Nothing like a good mathematical publishing scandal to get you in that warm fuzzy Christmas spirit.
Determining the mechanisms that shape biological membranes has long been a tricky business.
Like a factory assembly line, eukaryotic cells are organized into membrane-bound, functional compartments called organelles. For instance, the nucleus is the repository of genetic information and houses the machinery that creates the messenger RNA transcripts, which direct the synthesis of new protein. Secreted proteins are synthesized in a second organelle, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which are exported to the cell surface by a third organelle, the Golgi complex. All membrane bound organelles are characterized by dynamic changes in membrane structure that are closely coupled to the function of these compartments.
Not 10 years ago, most doctors agreed that estrogen supplements for post-menopausal women reduced the risk of heart attacks. Millions were paying extravagantly for “hormone replacement therapy”, and drug companies were making a killing. However, a comprehensive study conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative was stopped early, in 2002, because the dangers to healthy women taking estrogen were deemed excessive. Estrogen therapy, it turned out, actually increased the risk of heart attack, strokes, and breast cancer. The medical community was shocked. The Annals of Internal Medicine ran an editorial “How Could We Have Been So Wrong?” The National Institutes of Health hosted a special seminar on “methodology” and “medical evidence”.
We've all had it happen; you're sitting in class, hopelessly unprepared because you've been writing a D&D campaign or plotting ways to take over the world when, out of nowhere, the teacher calls upon you to come to the front the room and solve a math problem. In front of everyone.
How you respond to that says a lot about you, and 'math anxiety' may be a real phenomenon, according to a new report in Current Directions in Psychological Science. University of Chicago psychologist Sian L. Beilock examines some recent research looking at why being stressed about math can result in poor performance in solving problems.
Cells are filled with membrane-bound organelles like the nucleus, mitochondria and endoplasmic reticula. Over the years, scientists have made much progress in understanding the biomolecular details of how these organelles function within cells, but understanding the actual physical forces that maintain the structures of these organelles' membranes continues to be a challenge.
Now, UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science researcher William Klug and colleagues from the California Institute of Technology and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Massachusetts have devised a mathematical procedure for accurately predicting the three-dimensional forces involved in creating and maintaining certain organelle membranes.
While the stock market has been on a roller coaster ride, economists and business columnists have spilled a lot of ink assigning responsibility for the ongoing financial calamity. As always, hindsight is 20/20 vision but researchers at Argonne National Laboratory are trying to create new economic models that will provide policymakers with more realistic pictures of different types of markets so they can better avert future economic catastrophes.
In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novel, The First Circle,
originally written in the 1950s, Soviet diplomat Innokenty Volodin makes an ill-advised phone call outside a Metro station.
If you've ever seen one of those "55 saves lives" signs you might wonder why we don't just lower the speed limit to 5MPH. After all, it seems silly to think that lives lost from 56 miles and up are important but those below it are not.
General cynicism about advocates aside, it may be an issue of overestimating our abilities. Whatever the cause, research suggests U.S. motorists are growing increasingly cynical about the relevance of speed limits, and a new study indicates many motorists are more likely to think they can drive safely while speeding - as long as they won't get caught.
Change happens. People can sense change but science can measure it and might be able to predict its future. A scientific model would be a beautiful help for us to understand the behavior of both the global economy and the Earth's climate. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has been developing the WEM-ECO model for that purpose.* This model is certainly a beauty resulting from the dreams of our humanity.