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Happy Birthday, Riemann Hypothesis!

Big ups to Liz Landau for bringing attention to one of the most important unsolved math problems of our time, the Riemann Hypothesis. Over at the CNN SciTechBlog, she has written a nice article on the problem aimed at a general audience. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Riemann’s manuscript, where he proposed the now famous conjecture on the zeros of the Riemann-zeta function, and November was the month in which it was published. However, as Landau points out, the exact date of publication isn’t known, which makes having a birthday celebration a little tricky. The American Institute of Mathematics picked today to celebrate, and in honor of Riemann talks were held all around the world.

The Riemann Hypothesis has held the attention of the mathematical community for a century and a half, but it’s also made occasional forays into the realm of popular culture. For . . . → Read More: Happy Birthday, Riemann Hypothesis!

Debating Superfreakonomics

Last month marked the release of Superfreakonomics, a sequel by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner to the 2005 bestseller Freakonomics. The fanfare surrounding this prefix-enhanced release has been marred, however, by controversy surrounding a chapter on global warming. Starting with this entry on ClimateProgress.org, the debate has drawn a few responses on the Freakonomics blog, but nothing has seemed to blunt the allegations that Dubner and Levitt wrote the chapter from a contrarian perspective without understanding even the fundamental principles of climate science, and as a result, what they’ve written is garbage.

Much of the writing back and forth has been quite heated, and being a student of mathematics I am averse to conflict. However, one response resonated with me a great deal, and as a case study of the arguments that can be made using only simple calculations, it’s quite effective. The response in question comes from . . . → Read More: Debating Superfreakonomics