Archive for the 'Mathematics' category

SPSP 2013 Contributed Papers: Computation and Simulation

SPSP 2013 Contributed Papers: Computation and Simulation

Tweeted from the 4th biennial conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 29, 2013, during Concurrent Sessions VII

  1. First up, Catherine Stinson, "Computational models as experimental systems" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto

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SPSP 2013 Symposium S1: De-idealization in the Sciences

SPSP 2013 Symposium S1: De-idealization in the Sciences

Tweeted from the 4th biennial conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 27, 2013, during Concurrent Sessions I

  1. The concurrent sessions required a choice (from five very attractive options).
  2. Just about to start: Symposium on "De-idealization in the Sciences" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  3. Lots of discussions in literature of idealization, not enough of de-idealization (making models more realistic) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  4. What are the strategies, processes of de-idealization? The session will look at practices to see ... #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  5. First up: Mieke Boon, "Idealization & de-idealization as an epistemic strategy in experimental practices" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto

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John Tierney thinks he's being daring.

The title of John Tierney's recent column in the New York Times, "Daring to Discuss Women's Potential in Science", suggests that Tierney thinks there's something dangerous about even raising the subject:

The House of Representatives has passed what I like to think of as Larry's Law. The official title of this legislation is "Fulfilling the potential of women in academic science and engineering," but nothing did more to empower its advocates than the controversy over a speech by Lawrence H. Summers when he was president of Harvard.
This proposed law, if passed by the Senate, would require the White House science adviser to oversee regular "workshops to enhance gender equity." At the workshops, to be attended by researchers who receive federal money and by the heads of science and engineering departments at universities, participants would be given before-and-after "attitudinal surveys" and would take part in "interactive discussions or other activities that increase the awareness of the existence of gender bias."
I'm all in favor of women fulfilling their potential in science, but I feel compelled, at the risk of being shipped off to one of these workshops, to ask a couple of questions:
1) Would it be safe during the "interactive discussions" for someone to mention the new evidence supporting Dr. Summers's controversial hypothesis about differences in the sexes' aptitude for math and science?
2) How could these workshops reconcile the "existence of gender bias" with careful studies that show that female scientists fare as well as, if not better than, their male counterparts in receiving academic promotions and research grants?

I'm not up for a detailed reply to Tierney today, nor a serious look at the literature he mentions (or at the literature he doesn't mention). Maybe I'll be able to double back for that once I clear some of the more pressing items from my to-do list. But I would like to throw out a few observations that are relevant to the discussion.

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Do the math.

Jun 13 2009 Published by under Academia, Mathematics, Passing thoughts

After the open house at the college radio station, I paid a visit to a now-defunct cafe that used to be downstairs from the radio station studio and found the following calculation written on the wall:

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Friday Sprog Blogging: silkworm math.

May 22 2009 Published by under Critters, Kids and science, Mathematics

The Free-Ride offspring have been using the silkworms as a springboard for discussions of math as well as biology.
We started with 16 silkworms hatched from eggs that came home last June. They were joined, a couple weeks after they hatched, by another 15 silkworms brought home from the science classroom at school.

LeafySilkworms.jpg

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Math and science versus femininity.

Dr. Isis has some rollicking good discussions going on at her pad about who might care about blogs, and what role they might play in scientific education, training, and interactions. (Part one, part two.)
On the second of these posts, a comment from Pascale lodged itself in my brain:

I think a lot of impressionable girls, especially in that middle-school age group, get the idea that they can't be good at science or math if they like clothes, makeup, and boys. Is it the science/math sterotype that is the problem, or is it that girls make other choices to pursue these alternate interests? "I want to be pretty, so I don't want to be a scientist, etc" or is it "I'm bad at math and science, so I should be pretty and study art."
Girls' test scores and grades don't fall behind boys in these subjects until that age, and I find it hard to believe that girls suddenly lose the ability to do math and science. If more positive role models were present, then girls might see that they can study science and be feminine as well. I think that may be the real issue to closing the gender gap in the sciences.

This has me wondering.

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Friday Sprog Blogging: chatting about math.

Apr 03 2009 Published by under Kids and science, Mathematics

Since we're trying to get out of town for the weekend, Casa Free-Ride is a hive of activity. (As we seem to be passing another cold back and forth, it's also a hive of mucus. Ew.) But we have time to update you on recurrent topics of conversation this week around the Free-Ride kitchen table.
This week, it's been all about math.

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In which the elder Free-Ride offspring proves there is no largest prime.

Mar 20 2009 Published by under Kids and science, Mathematics, Personal

It's a proud day for any parent when offspring start getting interested in formal proofs. So I felt a little thrill when the elder Free-Ride offspring sat down with Dr. Free-Ride's better half to consider whether it was possible for there to be a largest prime number:

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In which Ann Landers unintentionally blows my mind.

Dec 31 2008 Published by under Mathematics, Passing thoughts, Philosophy

In a frequently recycled list of proposed New Year's resolutions, Ann Landers urges:

Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep.

However, she fails to advise a course of action in the case that you think you might not be able to live up to this vow.
(Maybe she was too busy trying to construct a set containing sets that are not members of themselves.)

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The Monty Hall problem and the nature of scientific discourse.

There's a neat article [1] in the September-October 2008 issue of American Scientist (although sadly, this particular article seems not to be online) in which Brian Hayes discusses the Monty Hall problem and people's strong resistance to the official solution to it.
Now, folks like Jason have discussed the actual puzzle about probabilities in great detail (on numerous occasions). It's a cool problem, I believe the official solution, and I'm not personally inclined to raise skeptical doubts about it. What I really like about Hayes's article is how he connects it to the larger ongoing discussion in which scientists engage:

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