Arnold’s view of Russian vs. American mathematicians

October 10th, 2015

The late, colorful Russian mathematician Vladimir Igorevich Arnold [pictured here] discussed how certain nations are famed for the way their mathematicians go about mathematicianing. This is from an interview he gave to S.H. Lui (and published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, in 1997):

QUESTION: Do you notice any differences in the way people from different cultures do mathematics?

ARNOLD: I was unaware of these differences for many years, but they do exist. A few years ago, I was participating in an International Science Foundation (ISF) meeting in Washington, DC. This organization distributes grants to Russian scientists. One American participant suggested support for some Russian mathematician because “he is working in a good American style.” I was puzzled and asked for an explanation. “Well,” the American answered, “it means that he is traveling a lot to present all his latest results at all our conferences and is personally known to all experts in the field.” My opinion is that ISF should better support those who are working in the good Russian style, which is to sit at home working hard to prove fundamental theorems which will remain the cornerstones of mathematics forever!


David Brooks joins the Hair Club for Science Journalists (LFFFHCfSJ)

October 10th, 2015

David Brooks has joined the Luxuriant Flowing, Former, or Facial Hair Club for Science Journalists (LFFFHCfSJ), the newest sibling club of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS). He says:

This photo of me from the late 1970s demonstrates both unkempt luxuriant flowing hair (all white American males under age 25 in the 1970s had ugly unkempt hair – it was a rule) and excellent dietary habits.

David Brooks, LFFFHCfSJ
Science Journalist
Concord (NH) Monitor,
Concord, New Hampshire, USA


The Effect of Music on the Efficiency of Surgical Closures

October 9th, 2015

Pig-Foot-and-Music“Time” as they say “is money.” Especially relevant perhaps, in a plastic surgery operating theatre, in which running costs can reach $66 a minute. And where, for example, “A 10% reduction in operative time per hour equals savings of $396 per hour.” What might help to speed-up surgeons’ performance (without of course compromising accuracy and efficiency)? Music perhaps? To find out, an experimental study was performed by Shelby R. Lies MD, and Professor Andrew Yuan Zhang MD, of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch.

“The purpose of our study is to evaluate the effects of playing music on plastic surgery residents performing layered wound closure on a simulation model using pigs’ feet.”


“The pigs’ feet were stored and separately presented to three blinded faculty plastic surgeons [the following day] for grading. The quality of repair was graded on a 1-5 scale. Factors taken into consideration by the faculty for the final summative grade included apposition of wound edges, evenness in superficial to deep plane, step-offs, overlapping, any gaping with manual spreading perpendicular to repair, suture knot visibility or unraveling, uniform appearance, and the amount of eversion.”


“Our study showed improved efficiency of repair in a simulated wound model while residents listened to music of their preference. There is an overall reduction of operative time of 8% in all residents. The reduction improved to 10% in upper-level residents. The quality of the repair also improved slightly in the music-listening group. In the current health care environment, where cost reduction is center stage and operative time is money, every second counts.”

see: ‘Prospective Randomized Study of the Effect of Music on the Efficiency of Surgical Closures’ Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 2015, Vol 35(7).

Also see: Background music can cause confusion in the operating theatre (new study)


PotPet – potted plants which follow you and ask for water

October 8th, 2015

“PotPet acts autonomously like pets: it automatically moves to sunny places or approaches people when it requires water.“

Details of ‘PotPet: Pet-like Flowerpot Robot’(from Ayumi Kawakamim Koji Tsukada, Keisuke Kambara and Itiro Siio at Ochanomizu University, Tokyo) were published in Proceedings of 5th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction, January 22–26, 2011, Funchal, Portugal.

Tsukada shared the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize for acoustics, for inventing the SpeechJammer.

Also don’t miss: Justin Shull’s terrestrial shrub rover.

Lucas Brouwers joins the Hair Club for Science Journalists (LFFFHCfSJ)

October 8th, 2015

Lucas Brouwers has joined the Luxuriant Flowing, Former, or Facial Hair Club for Science Journalists (LFFFHCfSJ), the newest sibling club of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS). He says:

I am a science writer from the Netherlands, specialized in biology and evolution. Once, I was the proud owner of a beard. Jealous friends lured me into a barber shop under the pretense that we would visit a razor museum. It was over in seconds. For the first time in years, I felt the tingling chill of fresh air flowing around my chin. The beard grew back. Naturally.

Lucas BrouwersLFFFHCfSJ
Science Journalist
NRC Handelsblad
Amsterdam, The Netherlands