Thursday, April 30, 2009

Invisibilty Cloak a reality.

Well, almost. Scientists at Cornell and Berkeley have created a 'cloak' that can bend (certain wavelengths of) light around an object, effectively making it invisible. Unfortunately it's only a few thousandths of a millimetre in size. Read more about it on the bbc, or even read the original article in Nature.

Science Speaks

Congratulations to Julie O' Donovan who won this year's Science Speak Competition in the R.D.S. on Monday for her talk 'Collections of Spherical Obstacles that Brownian Motion can Avoid'. I'm sure U.C.C. are delighted to win again. Personally thrilled a mathematician won, particularly after a theoretical physicist ( Suzanne Mc Endoo from U.C.C. ) won last year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

U.S. Voting Rights Act

The Voting Rights Act in the United States is due to come under review in the supreme court shortly. Currently there is a provision whereby some states and/or counties are required to get pre-approval for changes in voting procedures. Typically the jurisdictions included are those who had a history of racial discrimination. Section 5 of the act, as mentioned, is designed to prevent changes that would impinge on the rights of any section of voters. Objections have been lodged against this, despite evidence that it has been an effective preventative measure. Read more about it.

Personally I think that discrimination based on race is still rife in the United States, only now it happens for several different races. In addition the poverty gap is immense and the polarisation of social classes has been noticed as a basis for discrimination. I agree that the Section 5 of the act as it stands, applying to only a handful of areas, is highly divisive. However I believe that, rather than discarding it, they should extend the provision to all states, counties and jurisdictions and reinforce the multi-faceted nature of the anti-discrimination act.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Writing in the new age, a terrifying prospect.

Follow the link, read it all and you will understand the terror that fills so many of us when we think about young people nowadays. My youth not withstanding.

I was reading 'Confessions of a Science Librarian' and found this:

Check out the syllabus for ENG 371WR: Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era:

As print takes its place alongside smoke signals, cuneiform, and hollering, there has emerged a new literary age, one in which writers no longer need to feel encumbered by the paper cuts, reading, and excessive use of words traditionally associated with the writing trade...


Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets glimmer with a complete lack of forethought, their Facebook updates ring with self-importance, and their blog entries shimmer with literary pithiness. All without the restraints of writing in complete sentences. w00t! w00t!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Projective Geometry

Learning a lot about Projective Geometry at the moment. Even gave a talk on it to the maths society. It's really interesting and fun, unfortunately I think geometry is a little too literal minded for my abstract take on everything. The idea is to generalise to geometries on rings and then use these to create low density parity check codes in an analogous way to how they are created using geometries over finite fields. Watch this space! (but not too enthusiastically)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009