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The nonsense math effect

This week, the Freakonomics blog covered research by Stockholm University’s Kimmo Eriksson, which found that including a mathematical equation in the abstract of a research paper made scholars from different fields judge the research to be ‘of higher quality’, even though the equation is unrelated to the work and also complete nonsense. The study included 200 participants, although the amount by which the equation increased the perceived ‘quality’ of research varied between disciplines, and in fact caused a slight decrease for people working in mathematics or science subjects.

Via Tim Harford on Twitter.

The Aperiodical’s Possibly Annual Awards for Mathematical Achievement

Christian Perfect: 2012 was an alright year. At the very least, all of it happened, which is better than some had predicted. And since 2012 did happen, we are obliged by the Laws of Something to give out some awards.

Katie Steckles: Of course, the most noteworthy thing which happened in 2012 was the creation of an amazing mathematical blogging website, but I don’t mean to go on too much about that. Anyway, we’ve gathered together some candidates for some categories we made up, and will decide on our favourites via the process of arguing.

CP: Allons-y!

2013: I can be the year of stuff too!

In case you were bored of hearing that amazing ‘mathematical’ fact number coincidence, don’t worry – 2013 is mathematical for other reasons. Even though we’ve run out of Alan Turing Centenary year, and the slightly-under-mentioned Poincaré Centenary year, apparently 2013 is both The International Year of Statistics (Statistics2013) and the year of scientific collaboration project Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013. Watch out for upcoming events related to both!

Möbius house

Mobius HouseSince the Möbius band is such a cool object, it follows that anything made from a Möbius band or in the shape of a Möbius band is therefore also supercool. Also: the bigger, the better. So how about a Möbius house?

Korean architects Planning Korea have come up with a scale model and computer generated images of an amazing house based on the one-sided wonder, which uses the face of the Möbius strip as the roof and walls, with the front and back of the house covered in glass windows. It would take twice as long to paint the outside of your house (it’s also the inside), but otherwise you’d be sitting pretty. I do hope that’s a Möbius shed visible in the background, and a probability tree in the garden.

If you’re looking for something to sit on in your non-orientable domicile – presumably, while wearing your Conjoined Möbius Hat – there’s always this chair, which was incorrectly identified as being a Möbius strip by NotCot, and features a distinctly Möbiusy-looking wooden frame with coloured hanging net, to throw yourself into at the end of a long day of one-sided arguments and twisted stripping (don’t ask).

Via Alex Bellos on Twitter.

Mathematical Christmas Cracker Jokes

Katie, telling a joke At this time of year, lame and/or groan-worthy jokes come to the fore, and are completely acceptable, and in some cases encouraged, provided they’re preceded by a bang noise and read out from a tiny piece of paper.

Rummaging around on my computer today, I found a set of mathematical Christmas cracker jokes I wrote for a party thrown for a group of mathematicians a couple of years ago, where I hacked apart a set of crackers and replaced the toys with tiny slide rules, the paper hats with ones cut into fractal curves along the top, and the existing terrible jokes with terrible mathematical ones. I thought I’d share them with you all, since they’re more likely to be appreciated by maths fans.