Continuing our saga, trying to be intellectually honest, while a little prurient (Look It Up!, to adopt a recent political slogan), let’s look at the ridiculous “measured” correlation in point 3 of this public post. Let’s call it the PPP-GDP correlation! The scatter graph with data is displayed below Does it make sense? As in … Read More “p-‘s and q-‘s redux” »

# Category: Science in Daily Life

In the practice of statistical inference, the concept of p-value (as well as something that needs to exist, but doesn’t yet, called q-value), is very useful. So is a really important concept you need to understand if you want to fool people (or prevent yourself from being fooled!) – it’s called p-hacking. The first (p-value) … Read More “Minding your p-‘s and q-‘s” »

Another Wednesday, another session of Manjul Bhargava’s entertaining and instructive class at the National Museum of Mathematics, in New York City. This time, the topic was that of rhythmic combinations and their connection to mathematics. As the sentence itself suggests, combinations of rhythms lead to combinatorial arithmetic – the notions of Fibonacci numbers and Pascal’s … Read More “Math, Rhythmic patterns & A Card Trick” »

I spent a pleasant evening at the National Museum of Mathematics this week – the first session of a semester long program of lecture demonstrations about mathematics and magic. The instructor is Manjul Bhargava, the famous Princeton mathematician. I thought the ideas were worth discussing in a more public forum, so I resolved to demonstrate … Read More “Of Baby Hummers and clock arithmetic with Aryabhata and Archimedes” »

There is a well-known paper by the famous scientist and Nobel laureate C. V. Raman about the harmonic drums of India – the mridangam and the tabla. While the paper was written in the 1930s, it is quite detailed and refreshing in its clear description of how these instruments work. This post attempts to popularize … Read More “The Indian musical drums” »

Here’s something I saw while lazily surfing the net this morning. Someone throws a candy wrapper towards the floor and it sticks to the curtain or a book cover. How long will it stick? First, the reason this happens is because of static electricity – and this is why this rarely happens in humid climates … Read More “Why do chocolate wrappers stick to things” »

I woke up to a snowy day on the 30th of December, here in New Jersey and immediately realized two things! It was colder and darker than at the same time on the shortest day of the year, the 21st of December. I suppose you could blame the colder weather on the polar vortex swinging … Read More “Is the longest day the warmest day?” »

Its been difficult to find time to write articles on this blog – what with running a section teaching undergraduates (after 27 years of ), as well as learning about topological quantum field theory – a topic I always fancied but knew little about. However, a trip with my daughter brought up something that sparked … Read More “New kinds of Cash & the connection to the Conservation of Energy And Momentum” »

I gave a talk on this topic exactly two years ago at my undergraduate institution, the Indian Institute of Technology, in Chennai (India). The speech is here, with the powerpoint presentation accompanying it The Normal Distribution is Abnormal And Other Oddities. The general import of the speech was that the Normal Distribution, which is a … Read More “The Normal Distribution is AbNormal” »

Why is the night sky dark? Wilhelm Olbers asked this question, certainly not for the first time in history, in the 1800s. That’s a silly question with an obvious answer. Isn’t that so? Let’s see. There certainly is no sun visible, which is the definition of night, after all. The moon might be, but on … Read More “Mr. Olbers and his paradox” »

I really had to see this eclipse – met up with my nephew at KSU, then eclipse chasing (versus the clouds) all the way from Kansas to central and south-east Missouri. The pictures I got were interesting, but I think the videos (and audio) reflect the experience of totality much better. The initial crescent shaped … Read More “The Great American Eclipse of 2017” »

You know this story (or something similar) from your own life. I was walking from my parked car to the convenience store to purchase a couple of bottles of sparkling water. As I walked there, I noticed a car with the number 1966 – that’s the year I was born! This must be a coincidence … Read More “Coincidences and the stealthiness of the Calculus of Probabilities” »

Arbitrage refers to a somewhat peculiar and rare situation in the financial world. It is succinctly described as follows. Suppose you start with an initial situation – let’s say you have some money in an ultra-safe bank that earns interest at a certain basic rate . Assume, also, that there is a infinitely liquid market … Read More “Arbitrage arguments in Finance and Physics” »

I stopped following basketball after Michael Jordan stopped playing for the Bulls – believe it or not, the sport appears to have become the place to believe and practice outlandish theories that might be described (in comparison to the Bulls) as bull****. There’s a basketball star, that plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His name … Read More “The earth is flat – in Cleveland” »