Thursday, March 31, 2016

April Fool's Day Round-Up

Let's start with this new paper on the arXiv. And also this one. Also this one. (Tip of the cap to Guido Caldarelli for the third one.) Also this paper and this one.

Here is something about Brexit from The Guardian. (Tip of the cap to Dominic Vella.)

Here is a collaboration between Mark Zuckerberg and H&M. (Tip of the cap to Ravi Montenegro.)

Google had some issues with its Gmail joke this year.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, Stanford University's admissions rate has plummeted to 0%. (Tip of the cap to Carlos Castillo Chavez.) This one is great!

I assume that this article about an SUV chase in which the SUV ultimately takes out a fighter jet is a fake.

The country of Estonia is now going to run an OS for other countries. (Tip of the cap to Guillermo Valle PĂ©rez.)

CERN also got into the act with a musical number that missed a perfect rickrolling opportunity. Techers should consider themselves suitably warned, and I got caught offguard by this one.

George Takei posted a prank on his Facebook page about a new sitcom costarring Cloris Leachman and him.

Here is's round-up of today's pranks.

National Geographic announced that they would stop publishing nude animal photos. (Tip of the cap to Karen Kustedjo.)

Also, the New York Times crossword puzzles are ending.

And then there is the video advertisement for all-new Quilted Northern "Rustic Weave" toilet paper, which is hilarious. (Tip of the cap to Aaron Clements.)

Ready Player One

I just finished reading Ready Player One (which several people told me to read during the past few years, given the prominent role that 80s pop and gaming culture play in the game).

It was fun, I spent some quality time geeking out, and the book stands out very well on its own as a novel (which is crucial, because allusions by themselves can't fully carry a novel). The 80s pop and gaming culture did help, though!

Columbus, Ohio plays an important role in the book, and I just so happened (without planning it) to read almost all of the book while in Columbus.

(By the way, just about all of the musical references were too mainstream, and the author messed up the lyrics from the Howard Jones song.)

New Video Game: "Guess the Correlation"

You can literally play the video game Guess the Correlation!

I hope it has some good Easter Eggs!

(Tip of the cap to Physics Today.)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time with a Chainsaw"

Sometimes, this is what happens when you go with a meme. Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry for the book I just read. At the recommendation of several people, I am now reading Ready Player One.

(Tip of the cap to Keith Fraser for the meme.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

From The Onion Archive: "Georgia Adds Swastika, Middle Finger To State Flag"

Once again, The Onion is brilliant, as this article (technically just a headline and a picture) from 1998 demonstrates.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Your Own Personal Peer-Reviewed-Journal

One living philosopher has a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to himself!

It would be hilarious if one of his own papers were rejected by the journal.

(At least it's open-access.)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Amusing Restroom Graffiti

Yes, yes it is.

(Tip of the cap to George Takei.)

What Happens in Columbus Stays in Columbus (2016 Edition)

I had heading to Columbus, OH to be in residence at the Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) at The Ohio State University for the next month as part of a semester-long emphasis program on dynamics of biologically-inspired networks that I helped organize. I also co-organized workshop 3 (on generalized network structures and dynamics) and will participate in workshops 3 and 4 (on control and observability of network dynamics).

You can request a live stream of these workshops!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Complex Systems Tarot Cards!

Peter Dodds have produced some seriously awesome complex systems tarot cards!

(Tip of the cap to YY Ahn.)

Science Kombat

Two words: Finish him!

Based on what I see from the graphics, so far I think Stephen Hawking is the best playable character.

(Tip of the cap to Joshua Bodyfelt.)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Euler's Identity and Measurements of Profundity

I am going to use this SMBC when people bring up whether somebody's mathematics is deep or not.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Physics Circus

Walking back to the hotel from dinner, I noticed a bunch of vans from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. So now we're going to have the physicists and a literal circus present at the same location in space-time. Six years ago, we had a coincidence of the American Physical Society March Meeting and a young cheeleaders conference. (Each group was completely perplexed by the other.)

Regardless of how things pan out, I am sure that hilarity will ensue.

The Greek God of Not Swinging

During his career, Kevin Youkilis (aka "The Greek God of Walks") saw 292 career pitches on a 3-0 count... and swung 0 times.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March Meeting Chatchkes

I was pretty selective about chatchkes, but here is the stuff I have gotten so far –– most of them are appropriately GSNP-themed. GSNP is the Group on Statistical and Nonlinear Physics, which is my main home in this community. (I did get roped into signing up for the Soft Matter group, and then I was given appropriately granular mints.)

The rattleback was my reward for the Plinko game. It was what I wanted; there were multiple possible chatchkes that one could get, but the game was less random than a good Plinko construction would have been.

The coolest chatchke by far is the hot-pack/cold-pack, which is also appropriately granular (and which I think can be appropriated for many other uses in addition to the intended ones).

By the way: I plan to use everything in this picture, with the possible exception of the brain.

At registration, everybody received a keychain with a small bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer (because of the scientific reputation for hygiene).

Andrew Wiles Wins 2016 Abel Prize

The home team won big today: my Mathematical Institute colleague Andrew Wiles has won the 2016 Abel Prize!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What Happens at the March Meeting Stays at the March Meeting (2016 Edition)

I am heading to Baltimore to go to the 2016 APS March Meeting along with 10000 or so of my best friends. I haven't been to this conference since 2010.

Tomorrow I'll be giving an invited talk on localized modes in granular crystals, and on Wednesday I'll be chairing one of the networks sessions.

Update (3/17/16): You can now download the slides of my talk, which is about one-dimensional granular crystals.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The "Most Interesting Man in the World" Raises his Glass for the Last Time

The "Most Interesting Man in the World" has raised his glass for the last time, as the character was sent on a one-way trip to Mars in his final commercial. So ends one of the greatest ad campaigns in history. (It launched an internet meme, for example.)

(Tip of the cap to Kin Chan.)

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Somerville Mathematics Undergraduates Taking Leadership Roles

Yes, yes they are. And it's especially excellent that they're taking leadership roles on the crucial issue of gender equity in mathematics. Way to go!

Monday, March 07, 2016

A Cartoony Geek Alphabet

This geek alphabet is awesome. Take a look at "I", for example.

(Tip of the cap to whoever posts for Bring Back Firefly on Facebook.)

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Thursday, March 03, 2016

A New Low for PLOS ONE

Well, this paper in PLOS ONE demonstrates in epic fashion that this journal is a predatory journal.

Quoting the paper's abstract: The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way.

This kind of statement should not be allowed in a scientific paper.

(Tip of the cap to Sang Hoon Lee.)

Update: This paper has also been discussed in Easter Eggs in Scientific Papers.

Update (3/05/16): Oh look, PLOS ONE continues to be careful about how they go about doing things.

Update (3/07/16): Here is Aaron Clauset's take on more general situations in publishing, with the recent PLOS ONE debacle as the backdrop for these larger issues. (My view of the journal is considerably less generous than his, perhaps because they have been failing epically with mathematics ever since their inception.)