Thursday, November 29, 2012

Preview: Baseball in July in Korea

I am going to be in Seoul from 20-31 July 2013 for a big statistical physics conference. Besides doing some exploration, to which I am eagerly looking forward, I also plan to go and see at least one baseball game and perhaps more. I was talking the last couple of days about possibly seeing Chan Ho Park pitch one last time for old time's sake. Unfortunately, he announced his retirement from Korean baseball today. (There is a press conference scheduled for tomorrow.) I'm still going to have a lot of fun, though!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

RIP Marvin Miller (1917-2012)

Marvin Miller has died. He was the first representative of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and he ought to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. You can read more about him in his Wikipedia entry.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Humans Suspect Nothing

This demotivational poster is wonderful.

(This one is also really amusing.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Journal of Complex Networks Now Accepting Submissions

Oxford University Press's new journal, Journal of Complex Networks, is now accepting submissions!

I am on the editorial board. :) So submit to us!

(Tip of the cap to Ernesto Estrada, our Editor in Chief. While the web interface to submit is being worked out, submissions can be e-mailed directly to him.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oxford Workshop (July 2013) on Time-Dependent Networks

On 8-9 July 2013, we're having a workshop on time-dependent and multiplex networks at University of Oxford. We're holding this in the Mathematical Institute and are funded by EPSRC. I am organizing this workshop in collaboration with Sang Hoon Lee.

Fluid Dynamics and Penguin Huddling

Recently published in the journal PLoS One is a mathematical model for penguin huddling that takes some inspiration from fluid dynamics. I know the third author (Arnold Kim), who I met when I interviewed for a faculty position at UC Merced in 2005 (and of whom I had heard before then).

(Tip of the cap to whoever does the posts for American Physical Society on Facebook.)

The Proverbial Thesis Committee

I love this issue of PhD Comics showing a stereotypical PhD thesis committee.

I'm not actually any one of these stereotypes, and I read every word of all theses I examine.

I hope to grow up to be a guru someday, though. Mmmmm... cookies.

(Tip of the cap to Mariano Beguerisse Díaz.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Absolutely Legendary

I decided to check what Google Books felt are the most similar books to Legends of Caltech III: Techer in the Dark. Some of them make sense, but others are a bit surprising. The following books were on the first page:

Lectures on Physics: Exercises by Feynman (yay!)

Legends of Caltech (of course)

Proceedings [Volume 1] of the National Academy of Sciences (ok, I can go with that)

The Brotherhood of Eternal Love: From Flower Power to Hippie Mafia: The Story of the LSD Counterculture (I actually know why that is there ... something to do with "Lloyd grade")

and ... Mentally Incontinent (wait... what?)

P.S. Wait until the movie comes out!

Irony: Part N

I suppose I ought to appreciate the irony of several birds dive-bombing me while I am marking ballistics problems on my students' dynamics homework.

(But, really, I am annoyed that I now need to wash my jacket and take a bath. The first bird already forced that, but after the second and the positive feedback loop that might be occurring, I just needed to escape inside.)

I ought to design a homework problem based on this, though...

Friday, November 16, 2012

'Heroes of Science' Action Figures

Sadly, these 'Heroes of Science' action figures are not real. I also don't agree with some of the choices, but let's not quibble.

(Tip of the cap to I Fucking Love Science.)

Giving the Finger in Binary

This is how to use a binary representation to give people the finger.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012 Most Valuable Player Awards

The 2012 Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Awards have now been announced.

Buster Posey won the National League MVP in a landslide, and his victory is richly deserved.

Miguel Cabrera won the American League MVP in a landslide over Mike Trout, who should have won. Lame, just lame. (It wasn't as large a landslide as in the NL, but Trout was the best player in the AL by a large margin this year, so the voters simply blew it.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Cy Young Awards

The results of balloting for the 2012 Major League Baseball Cy Young awards have now been announced.

David Price won the award in the American League by just 4 measly points over Justin Verlander. (Jered Weaver finished 3rd.) This was the closest AL Cy Young race since 1969, when there was a tie. Here is the complete rank-ordered list for the award.

R. A. Dickey, whose name sounds like he should be an author, won the National League Cy Young Award and became the first knuckleball pitcher to win a Cy Young award. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, who pitched just as well as he did in his 2011 Cy Young season but didn't have the run support to get a gaudy win-loss record, finished a distance second (and was barely ahead of Gio Gonzalez, who finished third). Here is the complete rank-ordered list for the award.

Alcohol Under the Microscope

I mean that literally, by the way! The other side of the link has absolutely gorgeous pictures of various alcoholic drinks under a microscope. Some people drink alcohol; I just like it when it produces pretty pictures. (Way to go, chemists!)

(Tip of the cap to I Fucking Love Science.)

Stop Saying That!

ESPN's show "NFL Kickoff" decided to have a "Prince Bride"-themed episode.

(Tip of the cap to David Blau.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gutted Fish

Yup, the Miami Marlins sure treat their fans well.

In an unexpected Blockbuster --- did you see what I did there? --- the Miami Marlins have conducted another major fire sale: they are sending Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio ("just about any player making money") to the Toronto Blue Jays for a couple of the Jays' top prospects and the dreaded Yunel Escobar (and possibly more, according to the ESPN article). Wow!

It now looks like every team in the AL East except for the Red Sox are going to be interesting next year. It would be really refreshing to see both the Yankees and the Sox at the bottom of that division!

2012 Major League Baseball Managers of the Year

Davey Johnson and Bob Melvin have been named the 2012 Managers of the Year in the National League and American League, respectively.

The 20 "Most Influential" Scientists

Well, I'm not sure I actually agree with this list of the 20 most influential living scientists, but I will point out that 2 of them are in the same department as I am (University of Oxford's Mathematical Institute), and---if I not mistaken---not even a single person on this list is at Cambridge (aka, The Other Place). Booyah!

(Tip of the cap to whoever does Facebook posts for the American Mathematical Society.)

Update: In addition to what Justin has pointed out in the comments, Milana Gitaric reminds me that Stephen Hawking is at Cambridge. Well, he is easy to overlook. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 Baseball Rookies of the Year

Well, here's a complete shock: Mike Trout was the unanimous selection for 2012 American League Rookie of the Year. He also deserves the Most Valuable Player award, though I suspect that that will go to Miguel Cabrera Instead.

As I write this, I haven't yet seen an announcement for the National League Rookie of the Year, but I think that announcement will be coming very soon (tonight).

Update: As stated in the article to which I linked above, Bryce Harper has been named the National League Rookie of the Year. This is also the correct choice. 2012 was a very strong year for rookies, and these two players are particularly young (especially Harper) and particularly awesome. I'm really looking forward to watching them a lot more in the coming years!

The Neuroscience of Speed Dating

Caltech researchers have used speed-dating experiments to identify which parts of the brain are involved in making snap judgements.

This is really cool, but if the test subjects were Caltech undergrads, then I'm afraid that the whole experiment might have to be thrown out. :)

(Tip of the cap to whoever does Facebook posts for California Institute of Technology.)

Me and Paul Simon Down at the Widnes Railway Station

I came back from Widnes this morning for the outreach session. I noticed a plaque about Paul Simon there, and it turns out that this experience has --- without any intention at all --- given me something in common with Paul Simon! :)

Quoting from the wikipedia entry: "Widnes Railway Station is one of two stations where Paul Simon reputedly composed the song "Homeward Bound", the other being Ditton railway station. It is uncertain exactly where the song was written: in an interview with Paul Zollo for SongTalk Magazine, Art Garfunkel says that Simon wrote the song in a train station "around Manchester"[6] while in an earlier interview for Playboy Magazine Simon himself mentioned the train station was at Liverpool.[7] It is likely, however, that it was written at one of the two Widnes stations during a long wait for a train, as Simon was traveling back from Widnes, where he had been playing.[8] A plaque commemorating this claim to fame is displayed on the Liverpool bound platform of Widnes railway station.[9] Simon is quoted as saying "[i]f you'd ever seen Widnes, then you'd know why I was keen to get back to London as quickly as possible."[10]"

I just bought the song. I don't remember it, but it's really good (not terribly surprising for a Paul Simon song).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Frequentists Versus Bayesians

XKCD weighs in on one of the most heated debates in the history of the world.

Thursday, November 08, 2012


I bet this dude now wishes that his wife had voted. D'oh! (That said, the reasoning behind not voting is rather sensible. The "D'oh!" still applies, though.)

(Tip of the cap to Travis Hime.)

Isn't It Ironic?

I love this classic demotivational poster about irony.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Score a Victory for Caltech

Apparently, a women wearing an 'MIT' shirt was barred from voting in Florida.

As a Caltech alum, I have mixed feelings about this. :)

It's bad for the country, but it's excellent ammunition against MIT. What a moral dilemma.

(Tip of the cap to Carlos Castillo-Chavez.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

What Happens at the PLEXMATH Kickoff Meeting Stays at the PLEXMATH Kickoff Meeting

Miraculously, my visa renewal and passport arrived just in time for me to buy last-minute tickets to Spain for the PLEXMATH kickoff meeting in Tarragona. (I am flying into Barcelona and then taking ground transportation.) The itinerary is slightly convoluted and more expensive than is ideal, but that is what happens when buying plane tickets at the last minute, but it's great to actually be able to attend the kickoff meeting for our big grant. (I had long since assumed there was no chance I could attend, so this is awesome!)

Eventually, we will put some genuine content on the project's website. My project partners on this grant are Alex Arenas, Marc Barthelemy, James Gleeson, and Yamir Moreno.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Scales in the Universe

I posted a video about size scales in the universe recently after seeing it in an article by Steve Strogatz. Well, here is a a really nice interactive website that allows you to explore the scales of different objects in the universe. Very cool!

(Tip of the cap to "I Fucking Love Science".)

Implicit Assumptions

This SMBC comic isn't funny, but I am posting it because it is so, so true. In high school and college, the unstated assumptions in courses like introductory physics courses drove me nuts. That's the main reason why I had trouble with Physics 1. To this day, assumptions made implicitly rather than explicitly still annoy the Hell out of me (as speakers and authors quickly find out).

Friday, November 02, 2012

Smile and Wave

This bit of graffiti, starring the Madagascar penguins (who are rather well-armed in this picture), is absolutely awesome!

And for another amusing demotivational poster, take a look at the shadow in in this poster. Hah!

The Eyes Have It

Wow, this bit of research is really awesome. A 12-year-old kid used a Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual (the article doesn't indicate which edition) to help his father with some psychology research! The key thing they were testing was whether people are still drawn to look at eyes even when they're not in the center of a head. They wanted to distinguish whether people looked others in the eye only because of where the eyes happened to be located or at a deeper level. Awesome! I approve! I think this team might well have an Ig Nobel in their future... (Also, it just goes to show that beauty is indeed in the eye(s) of the Beholder.)

Another win, by the way, is the lead author's affiliation: "Lord Byng Secondary School, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada". Sweet!

(Tip of the cap to "I Fucking Love Science".)

Mathematics Anxiety Versus Physical Pain

According to a new study just published in PLoS One, mathematics anxiety can can prompt a response in the brain that is similar to that when feeling physical pain. I guess I do torture people after all.

(Tip of the cap to "I Fucking Love Science".)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

RIP Pascual Pérez (1957-2012)

Pascual Pérez was found dead in his bedroom in San Gregorio de Nigua, Dominican Republic (after having apparently been stabbed during a robbery). Two of the Pérez brothers --- Pascual and Carlos --- were well-known to be space cadets, though brother Melido (who I found out from the above article is mayor of San Gregorio de Nigua) seemed to be a bit less nuts.