In Stanislaw Lem's 1968 novel His Master's Voice, a message bubbles up from an underground fringe community that comes to be regarded as a message from an alien civilization.
A group of scientists are secretly assembled by the United States government to crack the message. For the most part, they fail. They run through some math, come up with a genome, use it to pop out a useless goop that can sort of kind of teleport things with absolutely no precision, and continue to search for meaning in the message. They fail.
The book served as a sort of treatise on the problem of communication with an extraterrestrial society. Such [...]
"It’s a mirror universe where everything is pliant and groovy, and in that universe there’s someone that stands out, and it’s the boring-looking trenne with its sharp edges.” —Architect George L. Legendre, who along with his partner, Marco Guarnieri, has made an art book called Pasta by Design, which presents mathematical equations detailing the shapes of 92 different types of pasta, along with pictures and suggestions for accompanying sauces. That is a ridiculous and fun-sounding project. I wonder which pasta Legendre would say is the most pliant and groovy in the mirror noodle universe? Who is the Papa John Philips, the Jimi Hendrix of pastas? Maybe [...]
"People who are bad at maths were probably born that way, according to groundbreaking new research. The study found the ability to work with numbers may be something that is entirely pre-destined - you either have it or you don't."
Goldman Sachs released a report today Wednesday for its clients about unemployment, and finds that extension of unemployment benefits in a recession does not actually make workers lazy and unwilling to work.
Did you know that today is the United Nations' International Anti-Corruption Day? I didn't. (I wonder whose palm got greased at MeadWestvaco Corporation to leave that fact off my desk calendar.) Six out of ten of the 91,500 people polled in 86 countries by the Berlin-based non-governmental agency Transparency International (who make a nice-looking graph, below) say that they believe the world has gotten more corrupt over the past three years. One out of every four say they have paid a bribe to a service provider in the past year. So, let's see, that's [beep-boop-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep] 22,875 people. Today is a day that we take note of the fact [...]
Largely today's New Yorker profile of Mike Bloomberg makes me remember there are lots of things we're going to miss about the lil' Bostonian billionaire that could! In particular, the attitude, and also the humongous amount of money he's dumped into various institutions and projects in the city. We're also going to miss him when we forget in a couple years that he's largely to blame for the forthcoming budget crisis. But.
“No one has done more to help the poor than we have.” The city, he insisted, “created three hundred and fifty thousand jobs in tourism. These are entry-level jobs.” In his twelve years as mayor, it built [...]
"One in four adults has the maths skills of a nine-year-old or worse and struggles with the most basic everyday sums. According to a shock report, more than eight million adults in England are considered to lack even basic numeracy." Hahahaha, England! 1 in 4 adults! That's like 50% or something!
The Nate Silver Wars are still going—but it's embarrassing to even refer to it as a proper battle, since the weirdo pundits who think he's a LIBERAL MOUTHPIECE are too busy breathing through their own mouths to be understood. If you were busy "being without power" or "helping out your neighbors" or otherwise having a life and/or suffering in the hurricane, perhaps you missed the most hilarious intellectual breakdown of the election yet. [...]
Big night out last week for Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan! The three men were spotted ordering the $700 worth of wine at Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill by an associate professor of business at Rutgers University named Susan Feinberg. After dining in the same restaurant with her husband, Feinberg confronted Ryan and his pals about the high-end wine. The exchange became contentious. Ryan professed not to know the price of the wine, and one of his buddies responded to Feinberg's chastisement by loudly saying, "Fuck her."
He has fun friends! The mouthy one is Cliff Asness, who runs a hedge fun and used to work at Goldman Sachs [...]
Do you know why investment banks and hedge funds and insurance companies actually work? If you just said "LAWYERS" or "THE FED WINDOW," you are technically correct. But on a more fundamental level, it's because there are thousands of Ivy League children assiduously doing math all day. These firms are the nation's number one consumer of nerds, and that is why, in the end, great amounts of money are made. (Though it's never the nerds that get the big bonuses, which is a shame.) So when businesses try to rip off a model—for instance, the fine people who mixed viatical settlements with derivative instruments, that is to say, [...]
"The blue ghost is nicknamed Inky, and remains inside the ghost house for a short time on the first level, not joining the chase until Pac-Man has managed to consume at least 30 of the dots. His English personality description is bashful, while in Japanese he is referred to as 気紛れ, kimagure, or 'whimsical.' Inky is difficult to predict, because he is the only one of the ghosts that uses a factor other than Pac-Man’s position/orientation when determining his target tile." —Games is maths!
"An article on Thursday about efforts to help students improve reading and math skills omitted some skills that students in a math class needed to correctly add three fractions. They needed to find the least common multiple of the denominators, rewrite each number as an equivalent fraction, add the numerators, find the greatest common factor, then reduce the final answer — not just find the greatest common factor and reduce. The article also misstated, in some editions, the percentages of children who scored at a proficient or advanced level in math and reading after attending a school in the Uncommon Schools network for two years. Eighty-six percent, not 90 [...]
In order to become a wizard, you must first apprentice to a wizard, and the acolytes who followed Nate Silver's lead did very well in The Awl's first quadrennial electoral college pool. Out of 160 entries received, 9 of you predicted the map exactly. (That's right: we're calling Florida for Obama. I mean, it's Friday.) This means that 5.6% of this website's readers have documented psychic powers. You can't argue with that. It's math.
Of the people who predicted the map exactly, 78% overestimated Obama's popular vote total by several million votes, reflecting a wildly inflated expectation for voter turnout. The remaining 22% didn't guess Obama's popular vote at [...]
As has been widely advertised, the jackpot for tonight's Powerball drawing is $250 million. Later today, I'll head out to a store in my Chicago neighborhood to buy a $2 ticket, then spend the rest of the day as I always do before a drawing, daydreaming about what I would do with all that money: A house across the street from Lambeau Field (perhaps attainable without winning the lottery), villas on the beach, bottles of Pappy van Winkle 23-year. The works. Top shelf everything. Living easy.
While I know that my odds of actually winning the jackpot—1 in 175,223,510 to be exact—are essentially zero, I never bothered to [...]
Not just two white men are without jobs, though they're the nice anecdotal evidence for the cover of Newsweek, which announced "The Beached White Male." Oh, you do not say: "Through the first quarter of 2011, nearly 600,000 college-educated white men ages 35 to 64 were unemployed." Oh but wait, do not make fun: "It might be tempting to snark at these former fat cats suffering lean times. But when Beached White Males suffer, so do their wives and children." (There are about 52 million married white men in the U.S., by the way.) But it's still safe to say this thesis doesn't have anything to do with [...]
With today's forthcoming signature by the President, the nation enters a frenzy of wealth transfer over both the next few weeks and the next two years. What does the tax bill do? Here is a fairly simple breakdown.