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Model suggests factors affecting size and shape of platelet blood cells

A collaboration between mathematicians and biologists has discovered “why platelets, the cells that form blood clots, are the size and shape that they are”, a better understanding of which “could have wide implications [for] healing wounds and in strokes and other conditions”.

Modelling obesity

(No, this story is not about plus-size fashion week)

The New York Times has published an interview with Carson C. Chow, an applied mathematician who models the factors causing obesity in the human body. He claims that the main cause of America’s obesity problem is the overproduction of food.

Dr. Chow has written a post on his blog about the interview, adding some more detail about what exactly he does and backing up his claim that availability of food causes obesity. He also points a commentor asking for more scientific details about his research to the obesity category on his blog, where he talks about his papers.

Interview: A Mathematical Challenge to Obesity

Model predicts prevalence of left-handedness in sports populations

Research has been published describing a mathematical model that successfully predicts the ratios of left-handers to right-handers in different sports.

Bacteria may “play” Prisoner’s Dilemma

The American Chemical Society (ACS) are reporting research presented at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the ACS about game theory in bacteria. The research investigated chemical signals exchanged between cells, which the press release calls “chat”. The press release reports that:

Faced with drought, radiation, over-crowding or other harsh environmental conditions, B. subtilis engages in quorum sensing, with individual microbes releasing chemical compounds that enable it to check out how their neighbors are responding to the unfavorable environment. Members of a colony of B. subtilis may decide to respond to the stressful environment in one of two ways.

Advance in snowflake growth simulation

Scientific American are reporting that “a team of mathematicians has for the first time succeeded in simulating a panoply of snowflake shapes using basic conservation laws, such as preserving the number of water molecules in the air”.

This explains that previous simulations often simulate the crystal surface using interlocking triangles, but that:

the triangles often deform and collapse in simulations, leading to singularities that bring the simulation to an abrupt halt… Garcke’s team got around this difficulty by devising a method to describe the curvature and other geometric information about the snowflake surface so that it could be appropriately encoded into a computer.

Math/Maths 88: Entertaining, or illegal?

A new episode of the Math/Maths Podcast has been released.

A conversation about mathematics between the UK and USA from This week Samuel and Peter spoke about: Haptic Math App; model of how buds grow into leaves; Mathematical Model Explains How Hosts Survive Parasite Attacks; Sperm Can Do Calculus; Hit game shows like Deal or No Deal and Play Your Cards Right could be forced off air after gambling watchdog claims that they break the law; Mathematical Horoscopes; National Numeracy; Afraid of Your Child’s Math Textbook? You Should Be.; Awards for statistical excellence in journalism; and much more.

Get this episode: Math/Maths 88: Entertaining, or illegal?