Posts Tagged ‘Math’

April Fool’s Tribute to Thomas Edison

Last year, for April 1st, I was asked to make a guest post to a GE blog called Edison’s Desk.  So I made this April Fool’s Tribute to Thomas Edison.  I had a lot of fun with the links – try ‘em all!

I must really be an April Fool because this is a big day for me.  I’ll be on NPR’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow – to talk about science and comedy with my friends Tim Lee and Norm Goldblatt.  The show streams live from 11am to 1pm Pacific/2-4pm Eastern, in addition to airing on your local public radio station.  Listen to it here.

Then later tonight I’m emceeing a great STEM education event (STEM = Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) in the planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences.  It’s called STEMPosium and it’s an evening to honor some fantastic education innovators.  This event will be live streamed from their website at 7:30pm Pacific. Check it out!

Schmahl Science Workshops Fundraiser

Saturday, November 6, 2010.  I’m performing at a fundraiser for a very worthwhile cause - Schmahl Science Workshops offers an after-school career mentorship program that enables pre-K through 12 students to participate in on-going science and engineering research programs.

16th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser:  “The Science of Success”

Food, wine, live entertainment (that’s me!)

6-10pm, Saturday, November 6, 2010
Quadrus Conference Center
2400 Sand Hill Road
Menlo Park, CA  94025

Tickets available at http://sswevent2010.eventbrite.com

More info on Schmahl Science Workshops:

The Bay Area is home to significant innovation in science and technology.  However many local school districts have eliminated science education from their curriculum. The key is more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educated graduates if we want to continue to be leaders in the global economy. By partnering with schools, institutions of higher education, science based institutions, museums, local governments, and the business community our non-profit, Schmahl Science Workshops (SSW) develops young scientists to participate in the next wave of scientific innovation. We need your help to keep Schmahl Science Workshop strong.  We invite you to join us to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and to learn more about how you can inspire the next generation of scientists.

Gregory Benford Quotation on Passion

“Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.”

- Gregory Benford‘s law of controversy (an adage from his 1980 novel Timescape).

Stand up straight!

My mother used to tell me to “stand up straight.”

It was one of her favorite things to say: “Stand up straight!”

Many other people, I have discovered, also grew up hearing that phrase. It’s nearly universal. As if mothers were programmed to say it. In fact, I believe mothers have been telling their children to “stand up straight” longer than we realize. Perhaps even to pre-human days.

What if that were the driving force behind the evolutionary trend to walk erect?

Mothers nagging their children up the evolutionary ladder:

“Stand up straight!
“Don’t drag your knuckles when you walk!
“What’re ya born in a tree?
“You want the other families to think we’re not evolving?”

“No, mom…”

Then: “How many times do I have to tell you?”

And, therein lies the origin of mathematics:

“How many times?…well, if I put the three here and carry the one….”

Conservation of Mass

I noticed a long time ago, whenever my mother would lose weight, my father would gain weight. And when my father lost weight, my mother gained weight.

It was like the Conservation of Mass, within our family.

Being the young scientist that I was, I developed a theory to explain the facts: You see, you never actually lose weight….you just give it to somebody else.

Fat can be neither created nor destroyed. It’s one of the basic laws of the universe. You need to know the laws if you’re gonna live here.

The Batting Average Paradox

In the normal course of my web browsing, I stumbled upon the home page of Stephen E. Schwartz, an atmospheric scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory and chief scientist of the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Science Program.

The page gets pretty technical for those of us who are not atmospheric scientists, but near the bottom of the page he mentions “the batting average paradox” – which contains a surprising bit of math that any of us can appreciate…

The batting average paradox. Able has a higher batting average than Baker in the first half of the season and also in the second half. You might think that that means that Able has a higher average for the season. But you would be wrong. Click here to see why averaging ratios can be misleading.”