Michael Detlefsen (Notre Dame) and Andrew Arana (KSU): Purity of Methods. From Plus, the fact is mathematics has been moving on somewhat shaky philosophical ground for some time now; Steve Humble on creating your own mathematical mysteries; and what makes an object into a musical instrument? Mathematicians have embarked on a three-year project to create their own version of the periodic table that will provide a vast directory of all the possible shapes in the universe across three, four and five dimensions. From PUP, the first chapter from The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010; and the introduction to Loving and Hating Mathematics: Challenging the Myths of Mathematical Life by Reuben Hersh and Vera John-Steiner (and more). Research finds that hidden fractals may suggest an answer to an ancient math problem. Does mathematical training increase our risk tolerance? New math theories reveal the nature of numbers. A review of Maths 1001: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Mathematics in 1001 Bite-sized Explanations by Richard Elwes. A study finds math skills rely on language, not just logic. Where the next dictator will fall: The mathematics of complex systems could be used to predict political instability. A review of Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem by Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan. A new paper first defines "mediocracy" as "a society in which people with little (if any) talent and skill are dominant and highly influential" — and then gets down to the hardcore algebra. The mathematics of being nice: Our ability to cooperate is the secret of humanity's success, says Martin Nowak, who tackles some of biology's biggest questions using mathematics. John Milnor wins the the Abel Prize, "Nobel of maths", for his manifold works (and more). Here is a case of a mathematician committing a shocking act of violence. It’s March Math-ness: Basketball tournament pools are games of chance, statistics, and game theory — here’s how to increase your odds.
Penny Crofts (UTS): Brothels: Outlaws or Citizens? From Vice, a special issue on fashion, including Walter Mercado on the celestial importance of style. From Public Discourse, Patrick Lee, Robert P. George and Gerard V. Bradley on marriage and procreation — the intrinsic connection (and part 2). From Mother Jones, will Japan's disaster halt a US nuclear renaissance? Boosters aren't backing off yet, but a change in public opinion could threaten the industry's rebirth; and is the government's nuclear regulator up to the job? Japan's nuclear crisis turns the spotlight on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's spotty record. From Quadrant, Rob Nugent on the decline of reading in an age of ignorance. Who’s winning in the sexual market? Michelle Rafferty comes up with a chart to sort all the data out. Martin Lewis on confusion about Syria’s Alawites. It's already clear that the earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan is the latest tragic example of our inability to predict when it matters most — what can the Edge community bring to the table? Tools for Thinking: David Brooks on how science offers some help in the everyday as we navigate the currents of this world. How to be happy: A review of Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will and This Is Water: Some Thoughts Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace. From Lacan.com, Shahriar Vaghfipour on how psychoanalysis works. We can't do without our private places to read and think, says novelist Philip Pullman. From The Hedgehog Review, Zygmunt Bauman on privacy, secrecy, intimacy, human bonds — and other collateral casualties of liquid modernity. Here are 12 vintage style posters pointing out political absurdities. Save it for HBO: A review of The Fugitive in Flight: Faith, Liberalism and Law in a Classic TV Show by Stanley Fish. Anis Shivani on the death of the New York Times Book Review and why that is a very good thing for books. Misinformation is as close as your inbox: New research suggests e-mail is an all-too-effective way of spreading false political rumors. Pamela S. Karlan on the health care challenge threatens all regulation.
From U.S. Intellectual History, Andrew Hartman on the Culture Wars: Notes towards a working definition (and more and more and more and more). Robert Westbrook reviews The Age of Fracture by Daniel T. Rodgers (and more and more and more). Is 2011 the dawn of America's new optimism? Charles Simic on the new American pessimism. Peter Dale Scott on the Doomsday Project, deep events, and the shrinking of American democracy. What we have seen in North Africa and the Middle East is that a dictatorship can be taken down; what we are seeing in the US is that a stable democracy can be chipped away at as well. From The Economist, a debate on whether America's political system is broken. Is America ungovernable? If you want to see the future of America, look at Europe of the 192s and 30s. A review of Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right by Dominic Sandbrook (and more). From Time, are America's best days behind us? Fareed Zakaria investigates (and a response by Joseph Nye); and David Von Drehle on why you shouldn't bet against the United States; and more on how to restore the American Dream. Why America will stay on top? An interview with Paul Johnson. Sam Roggeveen on America should be aware of its own decline. A review of Bruce Ackerman's The Decline and Fall of the American Republic. Is America in a race to the bottom, or are we going through what the Austrian born economist Joseph Schumpeter would call a process of “creative destruction”? Why the fall of American Empire can be a good (and peaceful) thing. David Bromwich on the US as a superpower bypassed by history. A panel on The End of Arrogance: America in the Global Competition of Ideas by Steven Weber and Bruce W. Jentleson. Joseph Grosso on the mythology of American exceptionalism. Stuff of Legend: American exceptionalism is a flawed idea, but Obama should still use it. How did "American exceptionalism" become a conservative shibboleth? Comic-book hero Captain America makes his film debut later this year; his big-screen appearance — and that of other superheroes — reveals the US’s new unease.