Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dodgers Clinch National League West!

With today's victory over the Giants (it was a particularly dominating performance by Clayton Kershaw), the Dodgers have clinched the National League West!!

We've now won the division three years in a row, and surprisingly this is the first time in franchise history that we've ever made the postseason three years in a row. (Hopefully, we'll do a bit better in the postseason this year than we have during the past couple of decades.)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Controlling Our Bladders Makes Us Better Liars

As I describe in my most recent blurb for the Improbable Research blog, a new study suggests that people are better at lying when they are controlling their bladders.

(Tip of the cap to Karen Kustedjo.)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Few Good Highlights from #OverlyHonestMethods

I really like the meme #overlyhonestmethods, and here are a few highlights from it.

I especially like the third one: "Reagent became became unavailable in 2002 because nobody wanted to order more and risk being added to terrorists watchlists."

(Tip of the cap to Greg Fricke.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

What Happens in the Bay Area Stays in the Bay Area

I am heading to the Bay Area to hang out with some of my peeps this weekend!

Birds on a Wire

On the taxi ride to the airport, I saw a set of three power lines that were parallel to each other and arrayed vertically.

The bottom one had 1 bird perched on it, the middle one has 3 perched birds, and the top one had a large number of birds on it (too many for me to count).

Any ideas what the mechanism is for this? Is there a preference for height? Does it have a bit of a DLA-like flavor in that a bird lands on the first available wire from something like a random walk or Levy flight such that it's more likely to "stick" on the top one? Does anybody know if somebody has tried to model this?

Also: Mine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What Happens in Los Angeles Stays in Los Angeles (2015 Edition)

I just arrived at my hotel in LA, where I will based for most of the next week and a half. I'll be giving math colloquia at UCLA and USC (and will be visiting UCLA during this trip).

RIP Yogi Berra (1925–2015)

Legendary philosopher (and baseball player) Yogi Berra died yesterday of natural causes.

Yogi Berra was a legend among legends and was known not just for baseball but also for his "Yogi-isms". The ESPN article above mentions several of his famous ones, but here is another one I like: "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is."

You can read more about him at his Wikipedia page.

(Tip of the cap to Gregg Schneider.)

Update: Here are several of Yogi Berra's one-liners. Here is one sportswriter's top-10 list of Yogi-isms.

Update 2: Rob Neyer has compiled some links commemorating Yogi Berra. (It includes one link that shows a headline about the death of "Yogi Bear" --- which was an inevitable boo-boo. [rimshot!])

Update 3 (9/24/15): Rob Neyer has written another piece about Yogi Berra. This piece includes a link to his old commercial for Aflac (where Yogi absolutely confounds the Aflac duck). Yogi was awesome. I can't stand the Yankees, but --- like many people who can't stand the Yankees --- still find Yogi Berra (who is very obviously most associated with the Yankees) to be absolutely awesome.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Liquid Nitrogen and Ping Pong Balls

Do you know what happens when you place 1500 ping pong balls in a container with liquid nitrogen? Take a look at the bottom video in this IFLS blurb to find out. It is really damn cool! (The top video will help prepare you for the physics.)

What Happens in Ann Arbor Stays in Ann Arbor

My next stop os University of Michigan, where I'll be visiting the Center for the Study of Complex Systems for a few days.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Some Amazing Pictures

Many of these pictures are amazing and/or gorgeous.

(Tip of the cap to George Takei.)

Dumbed-Down Ph.D. Dissertation Summaries

These dumbed-down Ph.D. dissertation summaries are pretty amusing.

If you want to practice doing that yourself, you can use the Up-Goer Five Text Editor to help.

(Tip of the cap to Jaideep Singh and Maria Satterwhite for the thesis summaries and to Karen Kustedjo for the text editor.)

Computer Scientists Versus Computer Engineers

Yup, SMBC has illustrated the difference very nicely indeed.

Being a student at Caltech was like this. (Bring back the Lloyd Coke Machine!)

2015 Ig Nobel Prizes

The 2015 Ig Nobel Prizes have now been announced.

(Georgia Tech people took home the physics prize for their work on urination duration, and I also noticed a Somervillian as one of the recipients in the prize for diagnostic medicine. Also, the economics and mathematics prizes are fantastic.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Clocks and Bombs

I like this picture.

And, obviously, I am very much in favor of people developing their scientific skills (e.g., by making their own clocks). I'm a theorist, and practical things were never my forte, but so many of my Caltech peeps got their start this way.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"As Whacky As They Come"

According to some Reddit user (with a rather unsophisticated handle), I am "as whacky as they come".

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pictures from Salina, Sicily

Here is my 2015 album of photos from Sicily.

And, in case you're interested, here is my 2014 album from Sicily.

Utilitarian Judgements

Today's SMBC is highly amusing. Also, it hits close to home. :)

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Man Shoots Armadillo; Bullet Ricochets Back into his Face

This is what we call instant karma.

I first learned about this sort of thing with bullets and armadillo-like creatures by playing Super Mario Brothers.

(Tip of the cap to George Takei.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

What Happens in Malfa Stays in Malfa

I am on the airport and making the circuitous trek to the remote Mediterranean island of Malfa to give a lecture in a summer school on networks, otherwise participate in the school, get some math done in a peaceful environment, and have some granitas. Bring it on!