Category Archives: Uncategorized

Au revoir, Le Bon Jack, si bien, si gentil

Very sad news this morning. Canada lost a good politician, Jack Layton, a decent and likable man with a great heart, who has been able to transcend the bitterness that politics seems to breed. His untimely death is so damn unfair! Here … Continue reading

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“Keeping a single rioter in jail is equivalent to what? Two postdocs?”

Here is a very recent exchange between two UK mathematicians. It hit so close to home –riots and all, Hockey or not– that I couldn’t resist! The subject was the recent acts of “dirigisme” at the UK’s “Engineering and Physical Sciences … Continue reading

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Google celebrates Fermat’s 410th birthday

Google.ca offered in: français

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Canucks last supper

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How Alzheimer’s stole the things he loved: Mathematics and Music

Fields medalist Daniel Quillen died yesterday at the age of 70. Known for his role in developing higher algebraic K-theory, Quillen was, until 2006, a Professor of Pure Mathematics at Oxford. His wife of 50 years, Jean Quillen, sent this … Continue reading

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How much of Japan’s suffering can we comprehend?

Not much. “However horrifying the pictures, however moving the reports, there’s a limit to how much suffering people can take on board – and it’s extremely low.” Writing about any other subject now is nothing but an unbearable display of … Continue reading

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Is your body simply a means of transport for your head?

Michelle did it again the other day. I was in a meeting in Toronto when I received her text message:  “As a university professor, do you consider your body to be simply a means of transport for your head?” I … Continue reading

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21 upcoming “Pieces of Mind”

Here are some of the issues I will be posting on in the next few weeks – not necessarily in the order below. Some are ready, others need to be polished and analysed further. Please chip in if you will. … Continue reading

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Drunk physicists and objectified mathematicians

Drunk scientists can make incredible discoveries. Researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan were testing a certain compound for its “superconducting” properties, while having a little party.

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Poetry, Physics and Porn

An Oxford scholar discovered recently that “high art and low art were packaged, sold and read together in the 18th Century”. Indeed, it turns out that the secret of success for the poetry collection, “The Works of the Earls of … Continue reading

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How mathematicians settle their differences, new NSF findings, and “Too Asian” at UBC

I should have said that’s how California mathematicians settle their differences. Didn’t the Unabomber have once an office in Berkeley’s Evans Hall? Here are the new findings by the NSF, and UBC’s response to the “Too Asian?”

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A new journal, Writer’s block, and Lady Gaga

There is a new journal around and here is a number of reasons you may choose to submit to it:

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Cheer up mathematicians of the world

Especially the young ones who never got to hear about Tom Lehrer. Here is Lehrer’s Lobachevsky. But don’t take him seriously about Lobachevsky. The guy was a genius. In any case, what do you think of this quote? “To copy … Continue reading

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To the memory of two beautiful minds

On January 10, 2010, Sam Roweis, 37, an associate professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, jumped to his death from a 16th-floor balcony at his university-owned apartment. Prior to teaching at NYU, Roweis was an associate professor in … Continue reading

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Sorry folks! No blogging till the new year

… as I will be busy being Canadian

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They might hurt us if they know how much we make

Another feature of Bill C-470  (see previous post) is that it contains compensation disclosure provisions –with a floor of $100,000– that are aimed at improving the accountability and transparency of charities. The AUCC finds the following problem with this provision:

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Be merry and solve problems

Researchers at Northwestern University found that people were more likely to solve word puzzles with sudden insight when they were amused, having just seen a short comedy routine by Robin Williams. Not so when they’d seen a scary or boring … Continue reading

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We made the top 10 of Charbonneau!

Ten higher-ed bloggers worth checking out 6 December 2010 It’s hard to keep up with all that’s being written about postsecondary education in Canada, but there are at least 10 bloggers that I do try to read regularly. Here they … Continue reading

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Descartes revisited

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How could someone as smart as Dyson be so dumb about the environment?

The Danger of Cosmic Genius, By Kenneth Brower In the range of his genius, Freeman Dyson is heir to Einstein—a visionary who has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine, and who has conceived nuclear-propelled spaceships designed … Continue reading

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