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Mathematics posts

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  • September 29, 2015
  • 01:40 PM

How Sheep Are like an Avalanche

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Sheep are rarely dangerous to skiers, but otherwise they have a lot in common with avalanches. That's what physicists say after mathematically modeling the ungulates' behavior (and staying well out of their path).

Francesco Ginelli, who researches complex systems at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, had already studied flocks of birds and schools of fish. But he was curious to learn what was different about the movement of sheep or other grazers. Animals like these have a simple goa... Read more »

Ginelli, F., Peruani, F., Pillot, M., Chaté, H., Theraulaz, G., & Bon, R. (2015) Intermittent collective dynamics emerge from conflicting imperatives in sheep herds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201503749. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1503749112  

  • September 13, 2015
  • 03:15 PM

Concept Mapping vs. Retrieval Practice

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Although some relevant differences were not significant in this study, the effects reported in the previous studies, along with the time differentials in the conditions leads one to believe that, all other things being equal, retrieval practice is likely superior to concept mapping for learning (from texts).... Read more »

  • September 5, 2015
  • 06:26 PM


by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Can we please talk about how we keep kids trapped for too long in counting number land? I've got this marvelous study to show you which might provides some good reasons to interleave different number systems throughout students' educations. It's this one.... Read more »

  • September 5, 2015
  • 06:21 AM

Are internal replications the solution to the replication crisis in Psychology? No.

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Most Psychology findings are not replicable. What can be done? Stanford psychologist Michael Frank has an idea : Cumulative study sets with internal replication. ‘If I had to advocate for a single change to practice, this would be it.’ I took a look whether this makes any difference. A recent paper in the journal Science […]... Read more »

  • September 3, 2015
  • 06:23 AM

Why are Psychological findings mostly unreplicable?

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Take 97 psychological effects from top journals which are claimed to be robust. How many will replicate? Brian Nosek and his huge team tried it out and the results were sobering, to say the least. How did we get here? The data give some clues. Sometimes the title of a paper just sounds incredible. Estimating […]... Read more »

  • August 25, 2015
  • 10:30 AM

We Can Do Persistence

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

Integrating "new math knowledge with previous knowledge and experience" is not as interwoven with students' intrinsic personal/emotional qualities as we like to think. It may not matter that they have low or high self-esteem or that they fear or do not fear mathematics or that they have or do not have test anxiety or that they like to challenge themselves or not.... Read more »

Malmivuori, M. (2006) Affect and Self-Regulation. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 63(2), 149-164. DOI: 10.1007/s10649-006-9022-8  

  • August 23, 2015
  • 08:00 PM

Are You Smarter Than a Belgian 8th Grader?

by Joshua Fisher in Text Savvy

A central point of this paper is something close to my heart—the notion that how one represents a certain piece of mathematics knowledge is often dramatically important. For this research in particular, the authors looked at fraction knowledge across three different countries: the U.S., Belgium, and China. ... Read more »

  • July 21, 2015
  • 03:43 PM

Drawing a line between quantum and classical world

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Quantum theory is one of the great achievements of 20th century science, yet physicists have struggled to find a clear boundary between our everyday world and what Albert Einstein called the “spooky” features of the quantum world, including cats that could be both alive and dead, and photons that can communicate with each other across space instantaneously.... Read more »

  • July 14, 2015
  • 06:09 AM

Laughing Hyenas Have Social Network Too

by jeffrey daniels in United Academics

Hyenas, like humans, are social animals. It turns out that a hyena, as is usually the case with humans, won’t befriend all the members in their clan. Extensive research reveals their social network strategies... Read more »

  • July 6, 2015
  • 08:29 AM

Scientists Predict A Talking Elephant, Szilamandee

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A talking white elephant called Slizamandee could save the world with his wisdom and "teach us with the deepest voice of history", according to an academic paper published today.

The article appeared in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. The authors are led by Otto E. Rössler, a biochemist. It's called Is it Ethical to heal a young white Elephant from his physiological Autism? Many thanks to Michelle Dawson for bringing it to my attention.

Rössler et al. start ou... Read more »

Rossler, O., Theis, C., Heiter, J., Fleischer, W., & Student, A. (2015) Is it Ethical to heal a young white Elephant from his physiological Autism?. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2015.06.020  

  • July 2, 2015
  • 12:57 PM

Freezing single atoms to absolute zero with microwaves brings quantum technology closer

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Physicists at the University of Sussex have found a way of using everyday technology found in kitchen microwaves and mobile telephones to bring quantum physics closer to helping solve enormous scientific problems that the most powerful of today’s supercomputers cannot even begin to embark upon.... Read more »

Weidt, S., Randall, J., Webster, S., Standing, E., Rodriguez, A., Webb, A., Lekitsch, B., & Hensinger, W. (2015) Ground-State Cooling of a Trapped Ion Using Long-Wavelength Radiation. Physical Review Letters, 115(1). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.013002  

  • May 23, 2015
  • 10:04 PM

Combining drugs with different penetration profiles can accelerate development of multidrug resistance

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

One strategy to prevent multidrug resistance from developing is combination therapy, when two or more drugs with unique modes of action are taken together to treat an infection. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of mathematicians and biologists led by Dr. Pleuni Pennings at San Francisco State University examined how differences in drug penetrance can impact the effectiveness of combination therapy and subsequent emergence of multidrug ........ Read more »

Moreno-Gamez, S., Hill, A., Rosenbloom, D., Petrov, D., Nowak, M., & Pennings, P. (2015) Imperfect drug penetration leads to spatial monotherapy and rapid evolution of multidrug resistance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201424184. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1424184112  

  • May 2, 2015
  • 10:00 PM

Intuition and Domain Knowledge

by Joshua Fisher in School of Doubt

While knowledge and process are both important, knowledge is more important. Even though each of the tasks in this experiment was more “intuitive” (non-decomposable) than analytical in nature, and even when the approach taken to the task was “intuitive,” knowledge trumped process. Process had no significant effect by itself. Knowing stuff is good.... Read more »

  • April 21, 2015
  • 04:17 PM

These Adorable Rodents Are Democratic Snugglers

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If you're a small animal in a cold environment, being standoffish is a bad survival strategy. That's why animals of many kinds huddle for warmth. They put their furred or feathered bodies right up against their neighbors' and conserve energy that they would otherwise spend heating themselves.

One especially adorable huddler is the degu (Octodon degus), a rodent that lives in Chile and has a tail like a paintbrush. As temperatures drop, degus clump into cuddling groups to keep warm. A new ... Read more »

  • April 20, 2015
  • 03:36 PM

Black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

While mass media was busy misquoting Stephen Hawking and arguing about black holes, astrophysicists have been hard at work trying to solve still unanswered questions about them. Now a team has not only proven that a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn’t supposed to be, but in doing so have opened a new door to what things were like in the early universe.... Read more »

Thomas J. Whalen, Ryan C. Hickox, Amy E. Reines, Jenny E. Greene, Gregory R. Sivakoff, Kelsey E. Johnson, David M. Alexander, & Andy D. Goulding. (2015) Variable Hard X-ray Emission from the Candidate Accreting Black Hole in Dwarf Galaxy Henize 2-10. The Astrophysical journal . arXiv: 1504.03331v1

  • April 18, 2015
  • 08:00 AM

Is There Signal in the fMRI Noise?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper in Neuroimage suggests that methods for removing head motion and physiological noise from fMRI data might be inadvertently excluding real signal as well.

The authors, Molly G. Bright and Kevin Murphy of Cardiff, studied the technique called nuisance regression. It's a popular approach for removing fMRI noise. Noise reduction is important because factors such as head movement, the heart beat, and breathing, can contaminate the fMRI signal and lead to biased results. Nuisance regres... Read more »

  • April 10, 2015
  • 08:06 PM

The universe is expanding, but how fast?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

We are expanding, well more accurately the universe is expanding. However researchers have found certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought. The results have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say.... Read more »

  • April 4, 2015
  • 05:52 AM

Academic Journals In Glass Houses... (Updated)

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A psychiatry journal, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (JNMD), has just published a remarkable attack on another journal, Frontiers in Psychology. Here's the piece: it's by the JNMD's own Statistics Editor. In it, he writes that:
To be perfectly candid, the reader needs to be informed that the journal that published the Lakens (2013) article, Frontiers in Psychology, is one of an increasing number of journals that charge exorbitant publication fees in exchange for free open access to p... Read more »

  • March 31, 2015
  • 11:45 PM

Operationalizing the local environment for replicator dynamics

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Recently, Jake Taylor-King arrived in Tampa and last week we were brainstorming some projects to work on together. In the process, I dug up an old idea I’ve been playing with as my understanding of the Ohtsuki-Nowak transform matured. The basic goal is to work towards an operational account of spatial structure without having to […]... Read more »

Ohtsuki, H., & Nowak, M. (2006) The replicator equation on graphs. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 243(1), 86-97. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2006.06.004  

  • March 28, 2015
  • 11:00 AM

Misbeliefs, evolution and games: a positive case

by Sergio Graziosi in Evolutionary Games Group

A recurrent theme here in TheEGG is the limits and reliability of knowledge. These get explored from many directions: on epistemological grounds, from the philosophy of science angle, but also formally, through game theory and simulations. In this post, I will explore the topic of misbeliefs as adaptations. Misbeliefs will be intended as ideas about […]... Read more »

Kaznatcheev, A., Montrey, M., & Shultz, T.R. (2014) Evolving useful delusions: Subjectively rational selfishness leads to objectively irrational cooperation. Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society. arXiv: 1405.0041v1

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