New Colleagues

Ah! The joy of new colleagues! I have somehow forgotten to tell you one piece of the great news that we had here at USC Physics and Astronomy recently. We got three new faculty, and one of them is here in action (I’ll tell you about the others later), telling us about the physics behind the 2006 Physics Nobel Prize. This is Cosmologist/Astrophysicist Elena Pierpaoli:


She’s one of those people who works closely on (among other things) the data from […] Click to continue reading this post

Manifold Yau

Well, here’s yet another discussion of Yau to gobble up. It is a New York Times article by Dennis Overbye on Yau, his life and work*. I’ve no idea why this was written, or what the timing was. I’d like to believe that it was just because it is a good subject -because it is- and that it is worthwhile to do an article about a Mathematician of considerable stature in the field, and about the ins and outs of the world of Mathematics -because it is. But I can’t help but wonder if this would have seen the light of day if there was not the big argument going on about the New Yorker article and Yau’s displeasure with its contents. […] Click to continue reading this post

Irrational Memories

Back when I was young enough to care to try to list such things, I had a favourite number. Really, really faourite. I lived and breathed that number for a while. Today’s session in the freshman seminar “The Art and Science of Seeing and the Seeing and Science of Art”, about which I have blogged here and here, was all about it. Rather than do chapter and verse about it (don’t get me started!), I will instead leave you with the image that I ended with…

… and let you tell me and other readers – if you like – what you think the number is, what it means to you, and perhaps share whatever you like (or hate) about it.

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Yau Fights Back?

Well… yikes! Remember my article on the New Yorker piece on the Fields Medal, the Poincare Conjecture, and the mathematicians Perelman and Yau? Remember that I said:

I cannot comment upon whether the hero of the story (Grigory Perelman) is as heroic as painted, or whether the villian of the piece (Shing-Tung Yau) is really as villainous. The anecdotes that are used to do the painting may well be able to be supplemented by other anecdotes that tell another story, as is sometimes the case. I simply don’t know.

Well, it seems that Yau is quite sure that it is not going to stop there. There was a letter sent to the New Yorker and the authors of the article (apparently) on his behalf by legal counsel. It is discussed and can be found on a web page under Yau’s name. The page is in the form of a press release, and I quote: […] Click to continue reading this post

On The Potential of Women Scientists and Engineers in Academia

Today, the National Academies released their long awaited report on the potential of women scientists and engineers in academia. The title is “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering”, and it can be obtained here. This is a hugely important topic, and they seem to have done quite an extensive amount of work on this. Here are some quotes from the press release, and then I’ll make some comments of my own at the end:

“Women are capable of contributing more to the nation’s science and engineering research enterprise, but bias and outmoded practices governing academic success impede their progress almost every step of the way,” said Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “Fundamental changes in the culture and opportunities at America’s research universities are urgently needed. The United States should enhance its talent pool by making the most of its entire population.”

Much the same can be said (and has been said in, e.g., my earlier blog posts on CV) about the largely untapped talent pool of minorities in general, of course. Quoting further [ … ] Click to continue reading this post

Visions and Voices

This year, there’s going to be even more to do on the USC campus to broaden your mind, and several events which link USC with off campus venues such as theatres, museums, and performing arts centers. The (then) new Provost, Max Nikias, announced his “Arts and Humanities Initiative” in his … Click to continue reading this post