Archive for 'News about research'

Ig Nobel shows in Aarhus (Wed, Thurs) and Copenhagen (Fri)

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

denmark-mapThe 2015 Ig Nobel EuroTour descends on Denmark this week. Here are the details:

  • AARHUS UNIVERSITY, Denmark, Aarhus. The Ceremonial Hall. Wednesday and Thursday, March 25 & 26, evening. (TICKETS). (NOTE: There are also optional events immediately before and after each Aarhus show. BEFORE the show, there is a BUFFET —separate tickets are required for the buffet. AFTER the show, there is a receptionfree, no tickets required — for every one, at the Steno Science Museum.) Featuring: Marc Abrahams; Dr. Nakamats (Ig Nobel winner, photographing every meal he has consumed over a period of 43 years); Hynek Burda (Ig Nobel winner, Documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth’s north-south geomagnetic field lines); Jaroslav Flegr (Ig Nobel winner, Is it mentally hazardous for a human to own a cat); Eigel Reimers (Ig Nobel winner, Testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears); and a special appearance by LFFFHCfS member Halfdan Skjerning and his beard. NOTE: The shows in Aarhus will be live-streamed to six towns in Jutland, Germany, the Faroe Islands, and Greenland.
  • UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN, Denmark. Festsalen, Frue Plads 4, 1168 København. Friday, March 27, 7:00 pm. (TICKETS.) Featuring: Marc Abrahams; Dr. Nakamats (Ig Nobel winner, photographing every meal he has consumed over a period of 43 years); Hynek Burda (Ig Nobel winner, Documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth’s north-south geomagnetic field lines); Jaroslav Flegr (Ig Nobel winner, Is it mentally hazardous for a human to own a cat); Eigel Reimers (Ig Nobel winner, Testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears)

BONUS: Dr. NakaMats discusses his ideas for better ideas

BONUS: The complete tour schedule (next week: Sweden).

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The Ho Ho Classification and Nomenclature Committee Report

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Copies of this report on Ho Ho Classification and Nomenclature are now hard to come by:

The Ho Ho Classification and Nomenclature Committee Report,” Johan Kamminga, Maxine Kleindienst, Ruthann Knudson, and Robert Lawrence,  Lithic Use-wear Analysis, 1979, pp. 133-35.

BONUS (unrelated): Huh

Professional Football Player by Day, Spectral Graph Theorist by Night

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

urschelJohn Urschel is not your ordinary National Football League offensive lineman. He may be a professional football player by day, but by night he is a spectral graph theorist (and numerical linear algebraist). His latest paper has now been accepted for publication in Journal of Computational Mathematics. Urschel announced via Twitter that his paper had been officially accepted for publication. (Based on my googling, the final version of the paper hasn’t yet appeared.)

Here is the paper’s abstract as it appears in the preprint:

In this paper, we develop a cascadic multigrid algorithm for fast computation of the Fiedler vector of a graph Laplacian, namely, the eigenvector corresponding to the second smallest eigenvalue. This vector has been found to have applications in fields such as graph partitioning and graph drawing. The algorithm is a purely algebraic approach based on a heavy edge coarsening scheme and pointwise smoothing for refinement. To gain theoretical insight, we also consider the related cascadic multigrid method in the geometric setting for elliptic eigenvalue problems and show its uniform convergence under certain assumptions. Numerical tests are presented for computing the Fiedler vector of several practical graphs, and numerical results show the efficiency and optimality of our proposed cascadic multigrid algorithm.

You can read a draft of Urschel’s paper, called A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians, on the arXiv preprint server. I just wish that he used his current affiliation on the paper, because that would have been fantastic.

(Thanks to investigator Francis Su for bringing this to our attention.)

Bonus: Many other famous people who are more traditionally associated with non-scientific walks of life have also contributed to science. The people on this list include Danica McKellar, Natalie Portman, Mayim Bialek, and Hedy Lamarr.

Another Bonus: Using the MathSciNet website for examining publication paths between mathematical scientists, you can see that John Urschel’s Erdős number is at most four.

A Third Bonus: Here is Urschel’s academic website at Penn State. He previously published a paper about a topic in celestial mechanics. Urschel also has at least one more paper on spectral graph theory.

Ig Nobel show at Imperial College London, Fri eve

Friday, March 20th, 2015

The 2015 Ig Nobel EuroTour descends Friday evening, March 20, on Imperial College. Here are details:

Tickets have been fully booked for a while now. But… there is always the chance that a few ticket holders will not turn up, freeing up their seats. So if you have not booked a ticket, you might want to take your chances and turn up fifteen minutes or so before the event begins, and perhaps, perhaps you will be able to get a ticket.

BONUS: Dr. NakaMats discusses his ideas for better ideas

BONUS: The complete tour schedule.

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Enabling Blue-Light-Inducible Penile Erection in Switzerland

Friday, March 20th, 2015

One of the first — perhaps the very first — papers about enabling blue-light-inducible penile erection in Switzerland has just been published.

The paper is:

fusseneggerA Synthetic Erectile Optogenetic Stimulator Enabling Blue-Light-Inducible Penile Erection,” Taeuk Kim, Marc Folcher, Marie Doaud-El Baba and Prof. Martin Fussenegger [pictured here], Angewandte Chemie, epub Mqrch 18, 2015. (Thanks to Ig Nobel Prize winner Len Fisher for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, Institut Universitaire de Technologie, IUTA, France, and the University of Basel, Switzerland, report:

“We thank Thomas Horn for generous advice with sperm microscopy…. An erectile optogenetic stimulator (EROS), a synthetic designer guanylate cyclase producing a blue-light-inducible surge of the second messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in mammalian cells, enabled blue-light-dependent penile erection associated with occasional ejaculation after illumination of EROS-transfected corpus cavernosum in male rats. Photostimulated short-circuiting of complex psychological, neural, vascular, and endocrine factors to stimulate penile erection in the absence of sexual arousal may foster novel advances….”