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Cocktail Party Physics

Physics With a Twist

The Sciences

Physics Week in Review: April 13, 2013

"The annals of theoretical biology are clogged with mathematical models that can be ignored or, when tested, fail." Biologist E.O. Wilson set off a mini-firestorm with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal topped by a provocative headline claiming "Great scientists don't need math." The actual text was a bit more nuanced than that; Wilson's main point, supporters say, was to encourage students not to be discouraged from pursuing a career in science just because they struggle with math.Stepping up to the plate to bat for Wilson's team, Ashutosh Jogalekar wrote, "In many fields math is a powerful tool, but only a tool nonetheless; what matters is a physical feel for the systems to which it is applied."Others didn't see it this way, most notably Berkeley mathematics professor Edward Frenkel, who wrote an impassioned response for Slate...

April 13, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette
The Sciences

Meet the Mandelbulb

Fans of British fantasy author Piers Anthony's Mode series may recall that the second book, Fractal Mode , speaks of a strange world that represents a perfect three-dimensional model of the famous (to mathematicians, anyway) Mandelbrot Set -- a stunning geometrical shape that results when you take a particular equation and apply it to a number, and then to the result, and then to each subsequent result after, ad infinitum .I've written about chaos and fractal patterns before, most notably in the work of painter Jackson Pollock...

April 8, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette

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