Google beats the CDC at their own game

Check this out! Google has been using search results to measure the severity of flu outbreaks around the United States. Google describes the phenomonon as follows. We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms… We compared our query counts with data…

Google scholar trick makes it more useful

Google Scholar is a resource for using Google to search for scholarly publications. I have not used the site much because, in my experience, it has been more of a frustration than an aid in research. When I used Google Scholar in the past I quickly found a link to the paper, but when I…

Red and blue election maps

I thought I’d made my last election-related post for a few years, but here’s one more. This is the red and blue 2008 election map we have gotten used to seeing for the past week. Mark Newman, a pysicist at the University of Michigan made a collection interesting election maps using software called Cart. Cart…

How did the pollsters do?

A few weeks ago I wrote about Fivethirtyeight.com, the website run by Nate Silver which made political predictions based on aggregating existing polls. You may want to check out a blog post by Carl Bialik, The Numbers Guy at the Wall Street Journal, in which he looks the accuracy of Nate Silver’s and other pollsters’ predictions. Here’s…

Google Books replaces the index

Indexes can be great tools for finding specific information in books. However, as we all know, they are often maddeningly incomplete. I was constantly frustrated when I was in graduate school studying for my analysis prelim exam. Royden’s Real Analysis (our text) had a terrible index. I ended up hand writing dozens of entries into…

Honda Civic plays the William Tell Overture

American Honda paid for a viral marketing campaign in Lancaster, CA for the Honda Civic. They cut grooves in the road so that when a car drives over the road at 55 mph (in a Honda Civic, presumably), it will play Rossini’s William Tell Overture (yes, that’s the Lone Ranger theme song). The “debut” of…

Folding a golden rectangle

Recently I wrote about the mathematics of cutting and folding paper and about the golden ratio, . Here’s a video that brings these two ideas together. We see how to create a golden rectangle (a rectangle for which the ratio of the sides is ) by folding a piece of paper. [via Anthony Brand’s maths…

Fractals on NOVA

I was shocked yesterday afternoon. I turned on the television to see what was on for my kids (PBS, of course) only to see, not Bob the Builder or Word World, but the Cantor set being constructed right before my eyes. It turned out that it was a new NOVA special called Hunting the Hidden…

Knuth stops writing checks

For years Donald Knuth would write checks for $2.56 (one hexidecimal dollar) to anyone who found an error in one of his books. Needless to say, most of these checks went uncashed. Unfortunately, he has decided to stop writing these checks. On his website he writes: due to an unfixable security flaw in the way…

Princeton University Press blog

A few days ago I discovered that Princeton University Press, publisher of my book, has created a blog. I’ve been enjoying reading the posts and watching/listening to the media, such as my editor Vickie Kearn’s interview of Andrew Gelman, who asks “What’s the matter with Connecticut?”