An example of unidirectional cause and effect: bad weather means umbrella sales rise, but buying umbrellas won't make it rain. Credit: Mariusz Olszewski/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

By Jonathan Borwein (Jon), University of Newcastle and Michael Rose, University of Newcastle

Calculating the pros and cons is a time-honored method for making analytical decisions but focusing too much on numberscalculations, especially those involving money, can lead to negative consequences, including social and moral transgressions, says a new paper.

Based on several experiments, researchers concluded that people in a "calculative mindset" as a result of number-crunching are more likely to analyze non-numerical problems mathematically and not take into account social, moral or interpersonal factors.

Chen-Bo Zhong. Credit: Rotman School

A recent paper makes a connection between the quantum group SLq(2), which describes knots, and the elementary particles of the Standard Model.  A mathematical knot is an embedding of a circle in 3-dimensional Euclidean space. Unlike your shoes, with their knot
the ends are joined together so it cannot be undone. The Standard Model, created in the 1970s, is the dominant hypothesis concerning electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions in fundamental particles.

Some suggest that leptons, neutrinos, and quarks might be composite and the authors seeks to make the case that the structure is described by the quantum group SLq(2).

Mathematical techniques that not only identify whether two data sets correlate, but also whether one drives the other, have allowed researchers to look at a lot of old data in new ways. Methods have been developed to try to identify and correct for bias in the fossil record but the new research suggests many of these correction methods may actually be misleading. 

The new results show that out of all the geological factors, only the area of preserved rock drives biodiversity. Therefore, the other geological factors – counts of fossil collections and geological formations – are not independent measures of bias in the fossil record.

Depending on the analysis strategy used, estimating treatment outcomes in meta-­analyses may differ and may result in major alterations in the conclusions derived from the analysis, according to a study in JAMA which could easily apply to all fields. 

Money can't make you happy but perhaps math can predict how much less unhappy you will be than if you lived in poverty.

The happiness of over 18,000 people worldwide has been predicted by a mathematical equation, with results showing that moment-to-moment happiness reflects not just how well things are going, but whether things are going better than expected.

An algorithm works for diagnosing pediatric patients with suspected appendicitis and that reduces the utilization of computed tomography (CT) scans, without affecting diagnostic accuracy.

Acute appendicitis is the most common cause of acute abdominal pain in children. Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed and filled with pus. CT scans are often used to diagnose acute appendicitis because they are accurate, widely available and have the ability to provide clinicians with advanced information in appendicitis cases suspected of complications.

An MIT robotic device is worn around the wrist and basically works like two extra fingers adjacent to the pinky and thumb.

A novel control algorithm enables it to move in sync with the wearer's fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. Wearing the robot, a user could use one hand to, for instance, hold the base of a bottle while twisting off its cap. The robot, which the MIT researchers have dubbed "supernumerary robotic fingers," consists of actuators linked together to exert forces as strong as those of human fingers during a grasping motion.

Weddings are a lot of stress, primarily for women but, in 19 states, lots of men as well.

Math can ease some of the burden - at least when it comes to cutting the cake. But first let's show how it works with just two people. Believe it or not this topic has generated a substantial amount of literature in the last 20 years. A cake is, of course, a metaphor for a divisible, heterogeneous good to a mathematician, and there an 'adjusted winner' can be created.

Dan Spielman, a Yale computer scientist, wanted to model complex online communities like Facebook, hoping to gain insight into how they form and interact. That's one of the precepts of Science 2.0, understanding how people can participate and scientists can collaborate without being drowned in a lot of 'noise' before being put on the right path to either.

A colleague in Jerusalem observed that aspects of Spielman’s research brought to mind a math problem that had been stumping people since Dwight Eisenhower was in office — the Kadison-Singer math problem. The 1950s? A puzzle that wasn't even from a paper, but from the “Related Questions” section of a paper on extensions of pure states?