Friday, December 30, 2016

The Surprising Population Counts of Cities: Reality Versus Psychology

The headline and tagline of this article are misleading, but the rankings are interesting. (Surprisingly, the article doesn't bring up metro and urban areas, as opposed to a city proper, which makes a big difference for an example like Miami, though this does not satisfactorily explain many of the examples.)

Would you have guessed that the city of Fresno has a higher population than New Orleans? (In this case, the order does get reversed if you measure metro area, but they are still very similar, so it's not like the whopping case of Miami.)

I remember being surprised a few years ago to find out that Boston is not in the US top 20 if you consider the city proper (based on the 2010 census). I remember querying this in a particular data set (here is the associated readme file, by the way) with street-map networks of the center of the top 20 most populous US cities (and similarly for other continents).

Note (partly so I remember this later): metro population and urban population are two different things.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Women, Mathematics, and the Periodical Tradition in Britain: or a History of Women Rocking Math from the Beginning"

Jacqueline D. Wernimont has written a very cool blog post about The Ladies' Diary.

Here is a quote from her post that describes the publication venue:

"One way to look at it is as a chimeric text with the head of an almanac, the body of a literary-mathematical periodical, with commonplace wings and a tail of recipes. It is fantastic.

Without question, it is the first mathematical periodical in Britain and it was designed explicitly for women and was published as such for more than five generations."

Very cool!

(Tip of the cap to Rachel Levy.)

New SMBC: "Coffee and Theorems"

Check out this new SMBC about coffee and theorems. ;)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

RIP Carrie Fisher (1956–2016)

It's gotten a bit ridiculous how many iconic people (especially 1980s icons and people who are way too young to go) who we've lost this year. (George Michael died just two days ago, for example, and the list was already long before that.) And now we add Carrie Fisher (best known as portraying Princess Leia in the Star Wars films) to the list. She died today after suffering a heart attack on a flight four days ago.

Last week, I arrange plans to (finally) see Rogue One today, and it feels very weird to be seeing it on the day that Princess Leia has died.

Update (12/28/16): And one day later, her mother (actress Debbie Reynolds) died of a stroke. Ugh.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Origin of the Word "Scientist" and Happy Birthday to Mary Somerville!

Mary Soverville was born on this day in 1780, and the word "scientist" (as opposed to "man of science") was coined initially for her. Also see the Facebook post by Physics Today.

(Tip of the hat to John Dudley for retweeting Maria Popova's article about the origin of the word "scientist".)

Update (1/16/17): In terms of the origin of the word "scientist", the claim above is not accurate. I sit corrected. (Tip of the cap to Thony Christie.)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Francis Crick and Old-School Snark

I love this!

Honesty in Board-Game Boxes


I don't agree with all of these, but they're damn funny—especially the one for Connect 4.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rent, Don't Buy

Pitcher David Rollins is becoming quite the itinerant worker, as he was just claimed on waivers for the 4th time in just over a month. Here is a nice quote from the article to which I just linked:

"The Texas Rangers picked up the popular David Rollins, a left-handed reliever, on a $20,000 waiver claim for the second time in a month on Wednesday.

Rollins had been designated by assignment by Philadelphia, which acquired him on waivers from the Rangers on Dec. 2. Rollins has been claimed four times since Nov. 18, going from Seattle to the Chicago Cubs, to the Rangers, to Philadelphia and back to the Rangers."

I wonder what the record is for this kind of thing? In any case, Rollins clearly should rent rather than buy (and perhaps wait before even renting).

But at least he wasn't traded for himself.

(Tip of the cap to Buster Olney, though this is starting to look like more of a Jayson Stark kind of thing.)

Update (12/23/16): Rollins has now been claimed for a 5th time, this time by the Cubs. The saga continues.

The Mathematician Version of Happiness

The new SMBC, which concerns a way to humanely euthanize mathematicians, is spectacular. I also love the mouseover: "They die frustrated, which is the mathematician version of happiness."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"Why Do Most Office Chairs Have 5 Wheels?"

I have occasionally wondered about this question (with some recent inspiration after constructing such a chair that I bought at Ikea), and thankfully googling quickly picked up a good answer (and a nice physics problem to assign to undergraduates).

Moral of the Story: "Stay Away from Applied Mathematics"

Yeah, we're always getting into trouble. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

What Happens in the Bay Area Stays in the Bay Area

I am heading to the Bay Area for a couple of days to visit friends (and also to talk to the peeps at a friend's company).

Friday, December 16, 2016

"The Solution is Trivial"

This SMBC Comics gets at the truth and a particularly obnoxious thing that most of us have seen in lectures at some point (perhaps at many points).

Also, I love the mouse-over: "Oh, woops, I meant to write 'The solution is trivial.'"

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Dodgers are Keeping Free Agents Hill, Jansen, and Turner!

Yay! The Dodgers have now resigned third baseman Justin Turner, so we're keeping all three of our major free agents. We recently resigned Kenley Jansen, and before that we resigned starting pitcher Rich Hill. Excellent!

There are also rumors that we will trade for second baseman Brian Dozier of the Twins. Let's see how things go.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tales from the ArXiv: "Dreidel Fairness Study"

There's a new paper on the arXiv preprint server called Dreidel Fairness Study.

I am amused by the following line from the abstract: "Although an unfair dreidel does not necessarily make the game itself unfair, it is conjectured that hundreds of pounds of chocolate have been distributed during Chanukah under false pretenses."

Also, the abstract mentions a dreidel with the face of Santa Claus on it. I guess they're mixing metaphors?

P.S. Somewhere in my parents' home lie my massive collection of dreidels. I can do a spiffy job of spinning them both in the standard fashion and upside-down.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

2017 SIAM Workshop on Network Science (13–14 July)

Along with Michelle Girvan, I am co-organizing the 2017 SIAM Workshop on Network Science.

It will take place in Pittsburgh, PA, USA on 13–14 July 2017, and it is co-located with the SIAM Annual Meeting.

Abstract submissions (due 27 February) are now open, and the deadline for early-career researchers to apply for travel support is 20 January. Invited speakers will be announced shortly.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Useful Blog Entry About Interviewing for Faculty Jobs

This blog entry is a useful resource for people interviewing for faculty jobs (or who have members or alums from their groups interviewing for such jobs).

It is written within a specific context, but it includes points that apply much more generally.

Some of the links therein also look potentially useful.

(Tip of the cap to Meghan Duffy.)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Bud Selig and John Schuerholz Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Bud Selig and John Schuerholz were elected to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame by the "Today's Game" branch of the latest version of Baseball's Veterans Committee. Both men deserve this honor. John Schuerholz was named on all 16 ballots, and Selig was named on 15 ballots. Enshrinement required being named on at least 12 ballots. Lou Piniella was next with 7 votes, and nobody else received more than 4 votes.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Interpretations of Famous Songs with Simple Cartoons

Here are some interpretations of famous songs using simple cartoons. As advanced warning (and an understatement), some of them are slightly rude.