Reader's Corner for July 2011

July 31, 2011

Because of a quirk in the rules, when the Cash WinFall jackpot reaches roughly $2 million and no one wins, payoffs for smaller prizes swell dramatically, which statisticians say practically assures a profit to anyone who buys at least $100,000 worth of tickets.

Gambling mathematicians
[Bob] [Alice]

July 30, 2011

As various governments have tried to clamp down, censor and/or filter the internet, all it's really done is increase interest and usage of encryption tools such as VPNs. Every so often we have commenters who insist that outlawing encryption is...

Face, meet palm. Palm, meet face.

July 28, 2011

This, says Matthew Carpenter, is my favorite exercise. I peer over his shoulder at his laptop screen to see the math problem the fifth grader is

what a great read. and, at the same time, depressing:

"teachers who’ve seen Khan Academy presentations and loved the idea but wondered whether they could modify it “to stop students from becoming this advanced.”"

July 27, 2011

With East Africa facing its worst drought in 60 years, affecting more than 11 million people, the United Nations has declared a famine in the region for the first time in a generation. Overcrowded refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia are receiving some 3,000 new refugees every day, as families flee f


July 26, 2011

The news reaction to the Oslo events clarifies the real meaning of "terrorism"

Very well written piece.

July 25, 2011

Charlie Brooker: Let's be absolutely clear, it wasn't experts speculating, it was guessers guessing – and they were terrible

July 22, 2011

Cool crossword trick

July 21, 2011

Two days after Aaron Swartz got indicted for allegedly trying to copy thousands of documents from a scientific archive, a torrent with close to 19,000 documents has found its way to the Pirate Bay. The leak is accompanied by a scathing critique of scientific publishing.


(knowledge needs to be freed. good luck to Aaron Swartz in his federal prosecution case)

Photographer Olivier Grunewald has recently made several trips into the sulfur mine in the crater of the Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia, bringing with him equipment to capture surreal images lit by moonlight, torches, and the blue flames of burning molten sulfur. Covered last year in the

Amazing scenery!

July 20, 2011

The Western news media is replete with pithy descriptions of the rapid changes taking place in China: China has the world’s fastest growing economy. China is undergoing remarkable and rapid change. This represents a unique moment for a society changing as quickly as China.

In a patriarchal society as that of Pakistan, its difficult to survive as an acid victim.


July 19, 2011

Mathematicians and engineers are often concerned with finding the minimum value of a particular mathematical function. That minimum could represent the optimal trade-off between competing criteria between the surface area, weight and wind resistance of a cars body design, for instance. ...

July 17, 2011

Sexual violence is one of the most horrific weapons of war, an instrument of terror used against women. Yet huge numbers of men are also victims. In this harrowing report, Will Storr travels to Uganda…

Depressing, Obscene, Horrific. Appalling to hear aid agencies actively stopping this human rights work from being carried out, because they don't want to have to spend more and/or lose funding. Great piece of journalism, however.

July 14, 2011

Physicists have created a "hole in time" using the temporal equivalent of an invisibility cloak.

July 6, 2011

Nature - the world's best science and medicine on your desktop

Interesting read.

July 3, 2011


[Bob] [Eve] [Alice]