science physics quantum_theory probability math reasoning irrationality social_sciences polling
Quantum Math Could Explain Irrational Reasoning

by Gabriel Popkin, Inside Science

Quantum theory, developed about a century ago to explain the puzzling behavior of elementary particles, could also help explain seemingly irrational aspects of human reasoning.

The mathematics behind this highly successful physics theory has now provided a way to explain why people respond differently to survey questions depending on the questions’ ordering, scientists report June 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Human reasoning is notoriously fickle, inconsistent and full of seemingly obvious fallacies. A prime example of such apparently irrational decision-making is the “order effect”: Researchers routinely find that the sequence in which they ask survey questions affects how people respond to them. In a 1997 Gallup poll, for instance, when surveyors asked people if they thought Bill Clinton was honest and trustworthy, roughly seven percent more respondents answered “yes” if they were first asked whether Al Gore was honest and trustworthy.

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science math physics chiral handedness toys spinning_top math_problems

A Thought-Provoking Toy

by Michael Keller

The spinning top above illustrates an unusual asymmetry where it flips over if spun in a clockwise motion and stays upright when spun counterclockwise. This behavior is a result of chirality, a property in which something displays handedness. When an object or system is chiral, its mirror images can’t be exactly mapped to each other—like your right and left hands. 

Tadashi Tokieda, director of studies in mathematics at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, investigates and invents toys like the one above that exhibit interesting behaviors. He’s also a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where he presented what he calls the world’s first chiral tippy top. See the video with this and other toys that display chirality below.

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math science formula pi pi_day_2014 pendulum archimedes reblog

generalelectric:

Happy Pi Day! Archimedes’ constant and our modern world meet in this GIF by Tyler DiBiasio with photography by Chris Talbot. 

Don’t forget about Pi Day today! At Txchnologist, we’re taking the period of a pendulum (at the standard acceleration of gravity on the Earth’s surface, and where pendulum length equals 894.3 meters and initial angle equals 90 degrees) to think about whether we’ll have a slice of apple or pepperoni to celebrate our beloved constants.  #PiDay

generalelectric:

Happy Pi Day! Archimedes’ constant and our modern world meet in this GIF by Tyler DiBiasio with photography by Chris Talbot

Don’t forget about Pi Day today! At Txchnologist, we’re taking the period of a pendulum (at the standard acceleration of gravity on the Earth’s surface, and where pendulum length equals 894.3 meters and initial angle equals 90 degrees) to think about whether we’ll have a slice of apple or pepperoni to celebrate our beloved constants.  #PiDay

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tech strategy cyber conflict computing sabotage models math
Mathematical Model Estimates Cyber Attack Timing

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by Charles Q. Choi 

As the Stuxnet computer worm attack on Iranian nuclear centrifuges made clear, the world’s growing reliance on advanced technologies means that nations are all potential targets of cyber sabotage. Now researchers propose a model for what the best strategies might be for when to launch these attacks, findings that could help authorities handle such conflicts and know what to expect from opponents. 

A number of recent international conflicts have already revealed how nations can be vulnerable to cyber attacks. For instance, weeks before bombs started falling on the country of Georgia in 2008, a series of cyber attacks on the nation’s Internet infrastructure overwhelmed and disabled numerous servers and websites. The event  may be the first time a known cyber attack coincided with a shooting war. In 2013, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said cyber attacks are first among the threats the United States faces today.

Policy researchers Robert Axelrod and Rumen Iliev at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor wanted to analyze the strategic implications of high-tech conflicts. They focused on the timing of such events, and on resources one could use for surprise attacks.

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