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Monday, June 17, 2019

Meet Olga Aleksandrovna Ladyzhenskaya: the Russian mathematician who pushed through the Iron Curtain | Massive Science

In spite of personal tragedy, dire political circumstances and deteriorating health, her passion for mathematics burned bright, according to Farah Qaiser, Molecular Genetics - University of Toronto.

Photo: Matteo Farinella
Olga Aleksandrovna Ladyzhenskaya (1922 - 2004) was a Russian mathematician, one of the most prolific and important of her time. She made contributions across many disparate areas in mathematics, but what you may not know is how Ladyzhenskaya’s passion for mathematics remained undeterred in the face of personal tragedies, dire political circumstances and deteriorating health.

Source: Massive Science

Einstein in Oxford | History - Physics World

Taken from the June 2019 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app.

Andrew Robinson, Author and Journalist, reveals why Albert Einstein travelled to Britain on three occasions in the early 1930s – and how he shocked his audience in Oxford with his new thinking about how science work.

Historic moment: On 23 May 1931 Einstein received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford.
Photo: courtesy - ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo
Amid growing political unrest in Germany, Albert Einstein paid three short visits to Oxford in the early 1930s. Andrew Robinson reveals why this celebrated physicist travelled to Britain and how Einstein seduced – and then shocked – his audiences with his new thinking about how science works.

The History of Science Museum in Oxford contains 18,000 objects, ranging from an ancient Roman vertical disc sundial to an X-ray spectrometer built by the physicist Henry Moseley in 1913. Its most famous object, however, is a humble Oxford blackboard – chalked by Albert Einstein on 16 May 1931 with calculations about the size, density and age of the universe. The museum’s website describes it as “a relic of a secular saint”, adding that some visitors “treat it almost as an object of veneration, anxiously requesting its location on arrival and eager to experience some connection with this near-mythical figure of science”.

The blackboard is perhaps the most lasting legacy of a visit that Einstein paid to Oxford in the spring of 1931. He had been to the city once before, having dropped by briefly in 1921 during his first visit to Britain. That was shortly after British astronomers had observed the 1919 solar eclipse, confirming Einstein’s general theory of relativity and propelling him to fame. On that occasion, he and his second wife, Elsa, were in Oxford for just a few hours, having a guided tour of the city and university provided by Einstein’s admirer Frederick Lindemann. A fellow German-born physicist, Lindemann was at the time head of the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford and later rose to fame as Winston Churchill’s science adviser.

Einstein’s return in 1931 was also due to Lindemann, who had been courting the great man on behalf of the Oxford-based Rhodes Trust, which wished to launch a series of lectures in memory of the businessman and South African politician Cecil Rhodes. Einstein, who hardly spoke English, had already declined a previous invitation in July 1927, in part because he felt that his poor health – triggered by overwork and an inadequate diet in Berlin during the rigours of the First World War – would make “a long stay in foreign and unfamiliar surroundings…too great a burden for me, particularly bearing in mind the language difficulty”.

But shortly afterwards he changed his mind, telling Lindemann in August 1927: “It is very important to me that in England, where my work has received greater recognition than anywhere else in the world, I should not give the impression of ingratitude.” Other difficulties intervened, but at long last, after Lindemann saw Einstein personally in Berlin in 1930, he agreed to lecture, and to stay at Lindemann’s Oxford college, Christ Church...

Photo: courtesy - CC BY-SA 3.0/Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

The idea of preserving Einstein’s blackboards during his visit to Oxford in 1931 seems to have come from dons who had attended his three public lectures, notably Robert Gunther, who had founded the History of Science Museum in Oxford a few years earlier. They rescued the two blackboards from Einstein’s 16 May lecture about the expansion of the universe. Although one board was later accidentally wiped in the museum’s storeroom, the other survives.
Read more... 

Recommended Reading

Einstein on the Run
How Britain Saved the World’s Greatest Scientist

Publication date:
24 Sep 2019
Source: Physics World

A 53-Year-Old Network Coloring Conjecture Is Disproved | Mathematics - Quanta Magazine

Photo: Erica Klarreich
Erica Klarreich, writing about mathematics and science summarizes, In just three pages, a Russian mathematician has presented a better way to color certain types of networks than many experts thought possible.

Photo: Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine
A paper posted online last month has disproved a 53-year-old conjecture about the best way to assign colors to the nodes of a network. The paper shows, in a mere three pages, that there are better ways to color certain networks than many mathematicians had supposed possible.

Network coloring problems, which were inspired by the question of how to color maps so that adjoining countries are different colors, have been a focus of study among mathematicians for nearly 200 years. The goal is to figure out how to color the nodes of some network (or graph, as mathematicians call them) so that no two connected nodes share the same color. Depending on the context, such a coloring can provide an effective way to seat guests at a wedding, schedule factory tasks for different time slots, or even solve a sudoku puzzle.

Graph coloring problems tend to be simple to state, but they are often enormously hard to solve. Even the question that launched the field — Do four colors suffice to color any map? — took more than a century to answer (the answer is yes, in case you were wondering).

The problem tackled in the new paper seemed, until now, to be no exception to this rule. Unsolved for more than 50 years, it concerns tensor products — graphs made by combining two different graphs (call them G and H) in a specific way...

Over the decades, mathematicians amassed an array of evidence, some of which pointed to the conjecture being true and some to it being false. Mathematicians had different guesses about which possibility would eventually prevail. But everyone seemed to agree, at least, that the problem was a hard one.

“I personally thought the conjecture should be true, because a lot of smart people had looked at it and should have found a counterexample” if one existed, said Anthony Bonato of Ryerson University in Toronto.

Yaroslav Shitov discovered a counterexample to Hedetniemi’s 53-year-old graph theory conjecture.
Photo: Özde Bayer, Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences

But now the Russian mathematician Yaroslav Shitov has come up with a simple way to construct such counterexamples: tensor products that require fewer colors than either of their two constituent graphs. The proof is “elementary, but ingenious,” said Pavol Hell of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada.

Source: Quanta Magazine

Some hypes and missed opportunities in robotics | Robotics - Innovation Origins

Prof. Herman Bruyninckx (KU Leuven) presented a critical view on the robotics industry during the seminar in High Tech Campus Eindhoven, says Olga Koltsova, writer. 

Photo: Innovation Origins
Bruyninckx delivered a talk on the hypes and missed opportunities in robotics pointing out the key issues that robotics should tackle nowadays.

Does more computing power lead to better robot systems? 
Herman Bruyninckx believes that what robots lack nowadays is the awareness of the users’ intentions and the ability to use abstraction. “50 years after the “first robot” Shakey you can still you go to a robotics conference and understand everything there – because the context and the mathematics are exactly the same. Intention and abstraction of the robots are still very underdeveloped. We need higher-order logic to make the robot aware of why it should be doing something but there is no formal language to represent that. We cannot even formalize what we humans know about the intentional context,” says Bruyninckx...

Where is the state-of-the-art in robotics?
According to prof. Bruyninckx, making an academic career in robotics has become too easy. “Too many old simplistic ideas are coming back again and again. It’s popular to have simplistic solutions but they won’t work,” says the KU Leuven professor.

Another problem of robotics in the academic system is the lack of standardization. “Where are you going to look if you want to know the state-of-the-art in robotics? I don’t know where to find it. There are hundreds of thousands of papers claiming that they are state-of-the-art. We did an extremely bad job in robotics as an academic system. In many cases, Wikipedia can be by far your best source about the state-of-the-art in robotics is.”

Source: Innovation Origins

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Suggested Books of the Week 24, 2019 | Books - Helge Scherlund's eLearning News

Check out these books below by Cambridge University Press.

The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity

The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity
This second edition of the renowned Cambridge Handbook of Creativity expands on the first edition with over two thirds new material reaching across psychology, business, entrepreneurship, education, and neuroscience...

The book then examines the impacts on creativity of behaviour by teachers, managers, and leaders in particular.
  • Incorporates a variety of ideas from psychology, business, entrepreneurship, education, economics and neuroscience
  • Analyses creativity from multiple perspectives, including both individual and environmental perspectives
  • Examines the biological, cognitive, emotional, and motivational underpinnings of creativity

The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance 

The Cambridge Handbook of
Expertise and Expert Performance
In this updated and expanded edition of The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, some of the world's foremost experts on expertise share their scientific knowledge of expertise and expert performance and show how experts may differ from non-experts in terms of development, training, reasoning, knowledge, and social support...

General issues that cut across most domains are reviewed in chapters on various aspects of expertise, such as general and practical intelligence, differences in brain activity, self-regulated learning, deliberate practice, aging, knowledge management, and creativity.
  • The revised handbook will remain the primary source for anyone wanting to get an updated review of the current knowledge, by providing a comprehensive review of the current knowledge about expertise in all major domains
  • This book is for anyone interested in studying expert performance and expertise in their own domain of expertise, with its up-to-date knowledge of methods and concepts spanning forty areas
  • Any individual interested in improving their own or their employees' performance will find in this book detailed analysis of training methods for improving performance in all major domains of expertise

Complex Analysis

Complex Analysis
This user-friendly textbook introduces complex analysis at the beginning graduate or advanced undergraduate level. Unlike other textbooks, it follows Weierstrass' approach, stressing the importance of power series expansions instead of starting with the Cauchy integral formula, an approach that illuminates many important concepts...

Aimed at students with some undergraduate background in real analysis, though not Lebesgue integration, this classroom-tested textbook will teach the skills and intuition necessary to understand this important area of mathematics.
  • Includes over 200 exercises, set at varying levels of difficulty to engage and motivate the reader
  • Illustrates analytical functions with color figures to grant a high level of detail and accessibility
  • Provides complete and detailed proofs and ties the subject with several other areas to give readers a comprehensive understanding of complex analysis and its applications

Brain-Computer Interfacing - An Introduction

Brain-Computer InterfacingAn Introduction
The idea of interfacing minds with machines has long captured the human imagination. Recent advances in neuroscience and engineering are making this a reality, opening the door to restoration and augmentation of human physical and mental capabilities...

It can also be used for self-study and as a reference by neuroscientists, computer scientists, engineers, and medical practitioners. Key features include questions and exercises in each chapter and a supporting website.
  • The first single-author introductory textbook on brain-computer interfacing
  • No background is assumed in neuroscience, computing or engineering
  • Provides exhaustive coverage, including review questions, an extensive bibliography and an index

Digital Logic Design - A Rigorous Approach

Digital Logic Design
A Rigorous Approach
This textbook, based on the authors' fifteen years of teaching, is a complete teaching tool for turning students into logic designers in one semester. Each chapter describes new concepts, giving extensive applications and examples. Assuming no prior knowledge of discrete mathematics, the authors introduce all background in propositional logic, asymptotics, graphs, hardware and electronics...

The extensive website ( includes teaching slides, links to Logisim and a DLX assembly simulator.
  • Offers a completely self-contained text that assumes no prior knowledge of discrete mathematics
  • Designed to turn students into logic designers in one semester
  • Features an extensive website with teaching slides, links to Logisim and a DLX assembly simulator, as well as other supplements
  • Each chapter includes concepts illustrated through extensive applications, examples and problems

Social Media Intelligence

Social Media Intelligence
In the world of Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, water-cooler conversations with co-workers and backyard small talk with neighbors have moved from the physical world to the digital arena...

This book can help anyone facing the challenge of making sense of social media data to move beyond the current practice of social media monitoring to a more comprehensive use of social media intelligence.
  • Discusses a wide range of applications with examples and case studies drawn from consumer brands, political campaigns and celebrity image management
  • Rich in both the theoretical foundations and the practical applications related to social media behavior and marketing
  • Uses the science of opinion to better understand social media behavior, metrics and strategy

Photo: Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels
Take a break, relax and have a cup of coffee!

Source: Cambridge University Press

The Best Science Books To Read This Summer | Listen - Science Friday

They say a vacation is only as good as the book you bring with you. And these days it feels like there are as many ways to consume science writing as there are fields of science. 

Photo: Science Friday
Whether you’re a fan of historical nonfiction, graphic novels, poetry or short essays, this year’s panel of summer science books experts has the one you’re looking for to take with you on your journey.

Alison Gilchrist is a graduate student researcher at CU Boulder and host of the podcast Buff Talk Science, and editor in chief of Science Buffs. Caren Cooper is an associate professor of public science at NC State University and author of Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of DiscoveryStephanie Sendaula is associate editor for Library Journal Reviews. They join Ira to talk about what they have chosen for their best summer science reads.

Source: Science Friday

How indie bookshops are fighting back | Books - The Guardian

Independent bookshops are thriving because they understand readers’ tastes better than an Amazon algorithm  by Damian Barr, writer, columnist, and playwright.

Golden Hare in Edinburgh – winner of this year’s Independent Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards.
Photo: Alamy
As global temperatures rise at the rate political standards fall, the news that independent bookshops are reviving gives rare cause for celebration. Last year the number of indies on UK high streets grew for the second year running – by 15 to 883, according to the Booksellers Association. As a reader, writer and literary salon host, I’m delighted. As a person genuinely worried that Donald Trump believes The Handmaid’s Tale is a how-to book, I’m relieved.

This resurgence is partly thanks to Independent Bookshop Week, which started on Saturday and runs to 22 June. Across Britain and Ireland indies are doing what they do best: hosting readings and signings, cooking up literary lunches and generally feeding curiosity. Bookshop crawls are quite the thing now and you can join one locally or engage in literary tourism farther afield. Check the hashtag or just join a convoy of people with Books are my Bag totes – I refuse to wash the Tracey Emin special edition...

Every month, my salon celebrates a different indie. Past favourites include Booka in Oswestry, The Edge of the World in Penzance and Golden Hare in Edinburgh – winner of this year’s Independent Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards. As it is Pride Month we’re showcasing Category Is Books in Glasgow. One of the newest to open its doors, it is owned and run by wife-and-wife team Charlotte and Fionn Duffy-Scott: “We’re a specialist queer bookshop – we only stock books that have LGBTQIA+ characters, narratives, or were created by somebody in the community. We don’t stock anything that we feel is homophobic, transphobic, biphobic, misogynistic, terf-y, racist or fascist.”
Read more... 

Source: The Guardian

9 New Books We Recommend This Week | Book Review - New York Times

Follow on Twitter as @GregoryCowles
Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times by Gregory Cowles, Senior Editor, Books. 

“I have a lot of apps open in my brain right now,” Lin-Manuel Miranda once said. We know the feeling. That quote turns up late in David Epstein’s new book, “Range,” which reassures committed dilettantes that there’s merit in the generalist’s approach to life: When you’re “facing uncertain environments,” Epstein writes, “breadth of experience is invaluable.”

With that in mind, we offer a generalist’s buffet of books for your consideration this week. Start with Epstein’s own, then move on to an account of the ground beneath your feet (“Underland,” by the gifted nature writer Robert Macfarlane) or a novel based on the real-life saint of Sudan, as St. Josephine Bakhita is known (“Bakhita,” by Véronique Olmi). Read about pandemics, or the settlers of the Northwest Territory, or Neville Chamberlain’s ill-advised strategy of appeasing Hitler; read a biography of the con artist who gave rise to the loaded term “welfare queen,” or settle in with a satire about creative writing programs, or enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert’s new historical novel about the world of New York showgirls. Open some apps in your brain. No environment is more uncertain than today’s, after all, so you might as well put Epstein’s theory to the test and broaden your knowledge.

Source: New York Times  

The 10 most anticipated books of the summer, according to Goodreads | Culture -

New York showgirls and murderous smart homes: your summer reading, chosen by Goodreads.

Photo: Riverhead; Tor Books
Summer is here, and for book lovers, that can mean only one thing: It is time for something fun to read. We’ll save our heavy history books and worthy classics for fall! Summer is the season for reading something engrossing, and ideally something as fizzy and accessible as pink champagne...

Here are the 10 new books that the devoted book lovers of Goodreads are most looking forward to loving this summer.  


Quiz: How well do you know Albert Camus? | Philosophy - OUPblog (blog)

The Nobel Prize winner, Albert Camus (1913-1960) is one of the best known French philosophers of the twentieth century, and also a widely-read novelist, whose works are frequently referenced in contemporary culture and politics...

Albert Camus
Photo: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
How much do you know about the life and work of Albert Camus? Test your knowledge with our quiz below.

Source: OUPblog (blog)