New study improves 'crowd wisdom' estimates

Aaron Leventman estimates how many beads are in the jar. Credit: Scott Wagner via Santa Fe Institute In 1907, a statistician named Francis Galton recorded the entries from a weight-judging competition as people guessed the weight of an ox. Galton analyzed hundreds of estimates and found that while individual guesses varied wildly, the median of…

Can you solve it? The hipster bicycle race

Hi guzzlers, Today, a spring selection of bite-sized brain food. 1) Two hipsters, Atticus and Abe, were arguing about whose electronic bicycle was the slowest. They decided to race them along a 100m track. They agreed that the bike reaching the finish line last would be the winner. The guys got on their bikes on…

Why prime numbers still fascinate mathematicians, 2,300 years later

Primes still have the power to surprise. Credit: Chris-LiveLoveClick/shutterstock.com On March 20, American-Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands received the Abel Prize, celebrating lifetime achievement in mathematics. Langlands’ research demonstrated how concepts from geometry, algebra and analysis could be brought together by a common link to prime numbers. When the King of Norway presents the award to…

Sustained bacterial outbreak in mosquitoes limits spread of life-threatening diseases

Medical practitioners, such as those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, frequently utilize mathematical models when determining how to best control the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. Diseases such as chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria, and Zika virus can be life-threatening, and no effective vaccine currently exists. While most mitigation strategies aim to eliminate popular…