An Iranian mathematician is the first woman ever to receive a Fields Medal, often considered to be mathematics’ equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
The recipient, Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford, was one of four scheduled to be honored on Wednesday at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul, South Korea.
The Fields Medal is given every four years, and several can be awarded at once. The other recipients this year are: Artur Avila of the National Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics in Brazil and the National Center for Scientific Research in France; Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University; and Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in England.
The 52 medalists from previous years were all men.
"This is a great honor. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," Dr. Mirzakhani was quoted as saying in a Stanford news release on Tuesday. "I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years."
Source: The New York Times
The annual Perseid Meteor Shower is happening now! The meteors are the remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle, and every August, like clockwork, our planet Earth cuts through the “river of rubble” left behind along the orbit of the comet. And yet, while comets are composed chiefly of frozen gas, meteors are very flimsy. They’re material that has flaked off comets and they’re similar in consistency to cigar ash; they litter up our solar system. Most are scarcely larger than pebbles or sand grains.
In the case of the Perseids, they come crashing into Earth’s atmosphere at estimated speeds as high as 37 miles per second—133,000 miles per hour. These tiny visitors from the cold, vast voids of stellar space, have been orbiting in the solar system for perhaps hundreds or even thousands of years, but cannot survive the shock of entry, and end up streaking across the sky in a brief, blazing finale lasting but a few seconds. Their kinectic energy is used up in such processes as the production of light, heat and ionization. Thus, such a tiny particle bursts into incandescence from friction, producing the shooting star effect and can be seen from more than 100-miles away. But it’s really the light energy it develops, not the particle itself that we see.
They are named the Perseid meteors because their fiery trails, if extended to a common point of intersection, would seem to originate near to the Double Star Cluster in the constellation Perseus, which on mid August evenings rises from the northeast.
Hubble has spotted an ancient galaxy that shouldn’t exist
This galaxy is so large, so fully-formed, astronomers say it shouldn’t exist at all. It’s called a “grand-design” spiral galaxy, and unlike most galaxies of its kind, this one is old. Like, really, really old. According to a new study conducted by researchers using NASA’s Hubble Telescope, it dates back roughly 10.7-billion years — and that makes it the most ancient spiral galaxy we’ve ever discovered.
"The vast majority of old galaxies look like train wrecks," said UCLA astrophysicist Alice Shapley in a press release. "Our first thought was, why is this one so different, and so beautiful?"
Read more: here
I need the Doctor and he needs to take me there
I second that.
The famous theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler coined the term “It from Bit”. He says that ”It” — every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself — derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely — even if in some contexts indirectly — from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, “bits.” This concept symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom — a very deep bottom, in most instances — an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-or-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe.
Wheeler speculated that we are part of a universe that is a work in progress; we are tiny patches of the universe looking at itself — and building itself. It’s not only the future that is still undetermined but the past as well. And by peering back into time, even all the way back to the Big Bang, our present observations select one out of many possible quantum histories for the universe.
At every moment, in Wheeler’s view, the entire universe is filled with events, where the possible outcomes of countless interactions become real, where the infinite variety inherent in quantum mechanics manifests as a physical cosmos. And we see only a tiny portion of that cosmos. Wheeler suspected that most of the universe consists of huge clouds of uncertainty that have not yet interacted either with a conscious observer or even with some lump of inanimate matter. He sees the universe as a vast arena containing realms where the past is not yet fixed.
MATH MYTHS: (from Mind over Math)
1. MEN ARE BETTER IN MATH THAN WOMEN.
Research has failed to show any difference between men and women in mathematical ability. Men are reluctant to admit they have problems so they express difficulty with math by saying, “I could do it if I tried.” Women are often too ready to admit inadequacy and say, “I just can’t do math.”
2. MATH REQUIRES LOGIC, NOT INTUITION.
Few people are aware that intuition is the cornerstone of doing math and solving problems. Mathematicians always think intuitively first. Everyone has mathematical intuition; they just have not learned to use or trust it. It is amazing how often the first idea you come up with turns out to be correct.
3. MATH IS NOT CREATIVE.
Creativity is as central to mathematics as it is to art, literature, and music. The act of creation involves diametrical opposites—working intensely and relaxing, the frustration of failure and elation of discovery, satisfaction of seeing all the pieces fit together. It requires imagination, intellect, intuition, and aesthetic about the rightness of things.
4. YOU MUST ALWAYS KNOW HOW YOU GOT THE ANSWER.
Getting the answer to a problem and knowing how the answer was derived are independent processes. If you are consistently right, then you know how to do the problem. There is no need to explain it.
5. THERE IS A BEST WAY TO DO MATH PROBLEMS.
A math problem may be solved by a variety of methods which express individuality and originality-but there is no best way. New and interesting techniques for doing all levels of mathematics, from arithmetic to calculus, have been discovered by students. The way math is done is very individual and personal and the best method is the one which you feel most comfortable.
6. IT’S ALWAYS IMPORTANT TO GET THE ANSWER EXACTLY RIGHT.
The ability to obtain approximate answer is often more important than getting exact answers. Feeling about the importance of the answer often are a reversion to early school years when arithmetic was taught as a feeling that you were “good” when you got the right answer and “bad” when you did not.
7. IT’S BAD TO COUNT ON YOUR FINGERS.
There is nothing wrong with counting on fingers as an aid to doing arithmetic. Counting on fingers actually indicates an understanding of arithmetic-more understanding than if everything were memorized.
8. MATHEMATICIANS DO PROBLEMS QUICKLY, IN THEIR HEADS.
Solving new problems or learning new material is always difficult and time consuming. The only problems mathematicians do quickly are those they have solved before. Speed is not a measure of ability. It is the result of experience and practice.
9. MATH REQUIRES A GOOD MEMORY.
Knowing math means that concepts make sense to you and rules and formulas seem natural. This kind of knowledge cannot be gained through rote memorization.
10. MATH IS DONE BY WORKING INTENSELY UNTIL THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED. Solving problems requires both resting and working intensely. Going away from a problem and later returning to it allows your mind time to assimilate ideas and develop new ones. Often, upon coming back to a problem a new insight is experienced which unlocks the solution.
11. SOME PEOPLE HAVE A “MATH MIND” AND SOME DON’T.
Belief in myths about how math is done leads to a complete lack of self-confidence. But it is self-confidence that is one of the most important determining factors in mathematical performance. We have yet to encounter anyone who could not attain his or her goals once the emotional blocks were removed.
12. THERE IS A MAGIC KEY TO DOING MATH.
There is no formula, rule, or general guideline which will suddenly unlock the mysteries of math. If there is a key to doing math, it is in overcoming anxiety about the subject and in using the same skills you use to do everything else.
Source: “Mind Over Math,” McGraw-Hill Book Company, pp. 30-43.
Revised: Summer 1999
Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC)
Southwest Texas State University