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Archive for the ‘Math’ Category

I know it’s a little late to post this article, but it’s a good one:

 

“A Life of Algebra and Adventure: Geoffrey Langlands has dedicated 20 years to education in Pakistan”

Declan Walsh

August 10, 2009 — The Guardian

Major Geoffrey Langlands outside the school he founded in the Hindu Kush mountains. Photograph: Declan Walsh

Major Geoffrey Langlands outside the school he founded in the Hindu Kush mountains. Photograph: Declan Walsh

Much has occurred, and much has changed, since Geoffrey Langlands, a young maths teacher-turned-army commando, landed on the shores of British India on a troop carrier in 1944. Since then the intrepid Englishman has lived a life of algebra and adventure. He has scraped through several wars, been kidnapped in Waziristan, educated world-famous cricketers, and taken tea with princesses, several prime ministers and a ruthless dictator.

Some things, however, never change. Every morning the retired major, who turns 92 in a few months, rises at dawn in his cottage in Chitral, in the upper reaches of the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan‘s North West Frontier province. He puts on a blazer, tie and polished shoes. Then he sits down to breakfast served by his loyal servant, Sufi. It is always the same: porridge (“Quaker Oats, of course”), a poached egg (the poacher bought from Selfridges) and two cups of Lipton tea. He leafs through a newspaper, which has arrived via the valley’s irregular plane service and is a few days old. Then it is out of the door, through the gate and up a winding hill to the school he founded and to which he has dedicated the last 20 …

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Here’s a funny article about zombies, math, and infection. It’s actually very interesting to see how math can be applied to zombie attacks. And the fact that the mathematical model that the students created can also be applied to the spread of real diseases in the real world is pretty cool.

Before I went to the Alpha science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing workshop this summer (check out my post about that), I didn’t have much of a regard for zombie fiction or zombies in general. Today, I still think that zombie stories can get pretty stupid, but when I went with the other kids at Alpha to the Confluence science fiction convention one of our teachers, David Barr Kirtley, did a late night reading of his short story “The Skull-Faced City” — a sequel to his story “The Skull-Face Boy,” which appeared in John Joseph Adams‘ anthology The Living Dead (the short story collection is currently on the World Fantasy Award ballot). “The Skull-Faced City” turned out to be a really good story — the thing just worked, and worked so well. It fit exactly with all the writing stuff Kirtley taught us about at the Alpha workshop.

After that, I felt a strong desire to write my own zombie story — though I’m not yet sure what about. But I will write one. Someday.

So this zombie article sparked my interest, as I’ve developed a recent appreciation for the elegance of math. And maybe for zombies too.

 

Inside Higher Ed — August 21, 2009

“Students Model Zombie Attack”

Historically, zombie attacks have been the dominion of science-fiction fanatics and Hollywood producers, not scholars. But in a paper scheduled to be published this year, three Canadian graduate students expose the popular sci-fi trope to some long-awaited academic scrutiny.

For the paper, set to be included in the book Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress, Philip Munz and Ioan Hudea of Carleton University, in Ottawa, and Joe Imad, of University of Ottawa, used advanced mathematical modeling to examine the chances of mankind surviving a typical zombie epidemic.

Munz said he conceived the study last fall as a term project, and recruited classmates Hudea and Imad (the two universities share a math program) before pitching the idea to assistant professor Robert J. Smith? — who, fortuitously, is a fan of zombie cinema (and whose taste for the unconventional may be evident in his decision to legally add a question mark to his last name).

“It kind of came as a crazy idea on my part while doing math homework with a movie on in the background,” Munz said.

That movie was Shaun of the Dead — a parody of the 1978 cult classic Dawn of the Dead and of zombie films in …

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