Mathematics, News

How motivation influences cooperation: would you open the ‘envelope’?


Here’s a question: what’s the difference between actor Sean Penn and the charitable Mother Theresa? Bear with me for a second. Here’s a bit of context: following the onslaught left by Hurricane Katrina, Penn hurried to New Orleans to aid victims. Allegedly has has personally saved 40 people. Today, however, he’s scorned and mocked of because he also brought a camera crew and publicist along for the ride to document his humanitarian effort. Both Mother Theresa and Sean Penn have engaged in what can be described as humanitarian aid, yet one’s seen as a saint, while the other is made fun of. The key difference is motivation and now game theory may finally be able to account for it.

Mathematics, News

Mathematician may have revolutionized the theory of numbers… but nobody understands his proof


Shinichi Mochizuki of Kyoto University, Japan claims he has proven the ABC conjecture, one of the longest standing mysteries of mathematics. However, even though his 500-page paper was published in 2012, no one has managed to understand it. Mochizuki says his fellow mathematicians are failing to get to grips with his work.

Mathematics, News

Languages are being killed by economic growth

Chief Marie Smith Jones, the last speaker of the Eyak language in Alaska, died in 2008 at age 89. Photo: NATALIE FOBES/CORBIS IMAGES

Globalization certainly has its ups: new markets, free trade, travel or economic growth (especially for developing nations). It’s this latter aspect of globalization that might be the dominant factor that’s wiping out languages from the face of the world, according to a study by researchers at University of Cambridge.

Mathematics, News

How one single sheepdog herds a flock of one hundred – mystery solved


Researchers at Swansea University, UK and Uppsala University in Sweden built a mathematical model that explains how one single sheepdog can round up herds made of up to 100 sheep. Their conclusion suggests that the dog needs only to follow two simple mathematical rules.

Mathematics, News

Iranian is the first woman to win prestigious math award


Maryam Mirzakhani, who was born and raised in Iran, has been awarded the highest honour a mathematician can attain: the Fields Medal. It’s one of those moments which will go down in history – for the first time in almos 80 years, a woman has won the Fields Medal (officially known as the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics).

Mathematics, Neurology, News

The road to happiness is paved with many surprises


Sometimes, we go through situations thinking when we reach the end of the road the outcome will feel gloom. But sometimes, the exact opposite happens and we’re flooded with absolute joy, the kind of which we couldn’t have experienced were we to expect that outcome. In a word, this is called surprise.

Did you know?, Feature Post, Mathematics

If you fold an A4 sheet of paper 103 times its thickness will roughly be the size of the Universe

The folding limiting equation Britney found: L is the minimum possible length of the material, t is material thickness, and n is the number of folds possible in one direction.

Whaaaat? It’s just a matter of math, really. Fold an A4 once and it will be twice as thick, fold it again and it will be four times as thick as it initially was. Turns out, according to Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, if you do this 103 times the sheet’s thickness will be larger than the observable Universe: 93 billion light-years.  To do

Art, Mathematics, Science

These architectural wonders were built by robots

Photo credit: ICD

University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design (ICD) is a state of the art research facility that seeks to solve complex structural problems by mimicking nature. Every year, the institute demonstrates how natural biological constructions can be used to solve design problems by building a new research wing. The results are nothing short of breath taking. This year for instance, ICD

Geology, Mathematics, News

Invisibility cloak could help protect cities from earthquakes


French researchers say they are close to developing seismic ‘invisibility cloaks’ which would cancel out potentially hazardous earthquake shockwaves, protecting key buildings or even entire cities. Nuclear power plants especially, and potentially entire cities could be cloaked using this technology – if the researchers’ theories are true (which seems highly likely). They believe that by drilling boreholes in a precise pattern into