Math and Stuff…

Posted: August 15, 2010 in Environment, Math, Science
Tags: , ,

So apparently this was a great week for Mathematics. My alma mater made the news (and not because they shot a bunch of hippies); always a plus. There were a few interesting science stories as well. All the good stuff, with links, after the jump. Also, there are Zombies. Did I mention the zombies.

There have been a number of interesting articles posted this week about the P != NP proof (08-11 version here: pdf link). Vinay Deolalikar has also posted a concise summary of his proof on his website. There are apparently three main criticisms, which he will address in the final version which will be sent to journals for peer review. I don’t know what the final verdict will be on this, but if it stands, then one more of the Clay Millennium Prizes will have fallen. Apparently cracking the Poincaré Conjecture wasn’t enough for one year.

Closer to the home front: my alma mater is in the news for something other than shooting hippies. Morley Davidson, together with an international collaboration have shown that the Rubik’s Cube can always be solved in twenty moves or less. Of course, their proof is a brute force method, so I don’t think that people are going to be memorizing the solutions to 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 different positions anytime soon. Apparently, it took 35 CPU years of computing time to solve all of them, and none of them took more than twenty moves. That’s impressive. Also, these are guys who really understand symmetry. Moral of story – always bet on the mathematicians. Also, bet on people who work with Google. #justsayin

I don’t know how many of you are preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I know that we’ve all been training in preparation for zombie humans, but it looks like the apocalypse is going to start with zombie cows. I understand that it’s enough to drive any civilized person to drink. So send pictures when you head off to the pub. Apparently, this is a win for science. Yay.

Of course, if you do happen to get bitten by a zombie cow, you can always slap some of this gel on the wound. Apparently, it cures chronic wounds including but not limited to diabetic ulcers. It’s not organ regeneration, but it seems that’s in the works as well. So it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. My money’s on the zombies. YMMV. In the meantime, I’m going with the chainsaw + shotgun motif.

Finally, some sad news this week. As some of you know, my power animal is a penguin. This has been the case since long before Fight Club was ever written, much less made into a movie. However, penguins have been in decline, due to pollution and climate change. Most recently, they’ve been washing up starved to death in Brazil. The International Penguin Conference is in Boston this year, but I can’t go. Sad penguin.

That’s about it for this week. I’ve been hella busy at work this week (it really tickles me that this might soon be a genuine technical term); I’m going to be hella busy next week as well. There’s something deep and profound that I can’t quite figure out, but as soon as I do, it’s going to be annoyingly obvious and trivial. I hate that part of science. Anyway, I’ll try to blog again soon, but I’ve got to give group meeting in a couple of weeks, so I’m going to be preparing for that, rather than finding you all these nice linkeys.


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