Mathematicians’ Continuing Fascination with Cakes

October 23rd, 2019

If you had to choose one of the many papers written by mathematicians about cakes, and you had to choose that one at random, you might choose this one:

Better Ways to Cut a Cake,” Steven J. Brams, Michael A. Jones and Christian Klamler, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, December 2006, vol. 53, no. 11, pp. 1314-21. (Thanks to Penny Grace for bringing this to our attention.) The authors explain:

“In this paper we show how mathematics can illuminate the study of cake-cutting in ways that have practical implications. Specifically, we analyze cake-cutting algorithms that use a minimal number of cuts (n – 1 if there are n people), where a cake is a metaphor for a heterogeneous, divisible good, whose parts may be valued differently by different people.”

When does the present end – and the future begin? [study]

October 21st, 2019

Questions along the lines of “When does the future start?” have perplexed scholars for . . . some time. For example, do people tend to think that The Future begins immediately* after The Present, or is its arrival more ‘smeared out’? [see illustrations]

Steps towards answering this puzzle have recently been taken by Professor Hal E. Hershfield (Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles) and Professor Sam J. Maglio (University of Toronto Scarborough & Rotman School of Management) – who ask (in a new paper for the Journal of Experimental Psychology.) “When Does the Present End and the Future Begin?”

“The current research was [thus] borne out of conversations surrounding decisions that are made over time, and the realization that although there is no shortage of work that has focused on these topics, the basic question of when the present gives rise to the future had not yet been explored.”

Across six experimental studies which used an Amazon Mechanical Turk pool of participants (each paid $30), the investigators found that :

[Thus,] people are capable of thinking about the division between the present and the future, and where they draw it provides a compelling glimpse into how they navigate and decide through time.”

See : Hershfield, H. E., & Maglio, S. J. (2019). When does the present end and the future begin? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication (a full copy of which, at the time of writing, was found here).

* BONUS assignment [optional] How fast is ‘immediately’ ?

Also see: Time flies – but how quickly?

Research research: by Martin Gardiner

Method to Improve Rats’ Skill at Driving Cars [research study]

October 18th, 2019

Driver education for rats—and how to improve it—is the subject of this new study:

Enriched Environment Exposure Accelerates Rodent Driving Skills,” L.E. Crawford, L.E. Knouse, M. Kent, D. Vavra, O. Harding, D. LeServe, N. Fox, X. Hu, P. Li, Clark Glory, and Kelly G. Lambert [pictured here], Behavioural Brain Research, epub 2019. The authors, at the University of Richmond, Virginia, explain:

“In the current study, following preliminary research establishing that rats could be taught to drive a rodent operated vehicle (ROV) in a forward direction, as well as steer in more complex navigational patterns, male rats housed in an enriched environment were exposed to the rodent driving regime. Compared to standard-housed rats, enriched-housed rats demonstrated more robust learning in driving performance and their interest in the ROV persisted through extinction trials.”

Peppermint Odor in Sports

October 16th, 2019

Although few organized sports focus on the smell of peppermint, a study published almost two decades ago zeroed in on the practice.

The study is: “Enhancing Athletic Performance Through the Administration of Peppermint Odor,” Bryan Raudenbush, Nathan Corley, and William Eppich, Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, vol.23, 2001, pp. 156-60. The authors, at Wheeling Jesuit University, explain:

“Forty athletes undertook a series of physical tasks under conditions of no-odor or peppermint odor. The peppermint odor condition resulted in increases in running speed, hand grip strength, and number of push-ups, but had no effect on skill related tasks such as basketball free-throw shots.”

Hula-Hoops as electrical generators [studies]

October 14th, 2019

“We designed and implemented a human-powered generator which could provide large electricity by using and measured a human metabolic energy expenditure needed to operate it.“

– explain researchers Yoon-Ho Lim, Jeong-Jin Yeo, Mun-Ho Ryu and Yoon-Seok Yang of Chonbuk National University, Korea, who have, between them, developed a hula-hoop inspired human-powered electric generator.

Their experimental generator was able to provide 700 mW average output electricity. Further research, they say, will test its first application as an indoor and outdoor lighting appliance.

See: A Hula-Hoop Inspired Human-Powered Electric Generator and Estimation of Conversion Efficiency based on Quantitative Assessment of Metabolic Energy Expenditure Journal Of Engineering, Universitas Mercu Buana Yogyakarta, Vol. 19, pp. 125 – 130

Also see : A Hula-Hoop Energy-Harvesting System IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, Vol 47, #10, October 2011.

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!