Thursday, July 5, 2018

Dueling Mathematicians...

First, in the Road-from-Ridicule-to-Nobel-Prize Dept.:
1)  In yesterday’s #BigMathOff competition Edmund Harriss linked to an older story I didn’t recall hearing, but found fascinating… that of Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman ridiculed/mocked (even losing his job!) for discovering quasicrystals with never-repeating patterns, only to later receive the Nobel Prize for the same finding (after no less than Linus Pauling had said, There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists”):

The story is a great lesson in the uncertainty of science, and even a cautionary tale of the occasional difficulty in distinguishing science from crackpottery.

As many or most of you know, in recent years, there has been much attention given to possible links between quasicrystals and prime numbers or the Riemann Hypothesis:


And from the Surprises-In-Probability Dept.:
2)  Harriss’s competition in this round of the ‘Math-off’ is Colin Wright whose exposition of some full-deck card-play is wonderfully entertaining, especially for those who like playing with probabilities. It is the sort of example that can be enjoyed by both young people and adults, with a result that will likely seem counterintuitive at first, making it all the more enjoyable. Warning: it can be a bit addictive!

Kudos to Aperiodical's Christian Lawson-Perfect for organizing this 1st Annual ;) Big Internet Math-Off. The above Harriss-Wright square-off, by the way, is match 4 of round 1 (and you still have time to vote for your fave). Much fun yet to come.

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