Skip to main content

Stories by Jennifer Ouellette

The Sciences

Physics Week in Review: April 13, 2013

"The annals of theoretical biology are clogged with mathematical models that can be ignored or, when tested, fail." Biologist E.O. Wilson set off a mini-firestorm with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal topped by a provocative headline claiming "Great scientists don't need math." The actual text was a bit more nuanced than that; Wilson's main point, supporters say, was to encourage students not to be discouraged from pursuing a career in science just because they struggle with math.Stepping up to the plate to bat for Wilson's team, Ashutosh Jogalekar wrote, "In many fields math is a powerful tool, but only a tool nonetheless; what matters is a physical feel for the systems to which it is applied."Others didn't see it this way, most notably Berkeley mathematics professor Edward Frenkel, who wrote an impassioned response for Slate...

April 13, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette
The Sciences

Meet the Mandelbulb

Fans of British fantasy author Piers Anthony's Mode series may recall that the second book, Fractal Mode , speaks of a strange world that represents a perfect three-dimensional model of the famous (to mathematicians, anyway) Mandelbrot Set -- a stunning geometrical shape that results when you take a particular equation and apply it to a number, and then to the result, and then to each subsequent result after, ad infinitum .I've written about chaos and fractal patterns before, most notably in the work of painter Jackson Pollock...

April 8, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette
The Sciences

How Dry I Am: When Is That Sponge Cake Past Its Prime?

I adored Twinkies as a kid, vastly preferring them to Ding-Dongs or SnowBalls, and my folks used to give me a box every Christmas. Jokes about eternal shelf life notwithstanding, I gobbled the spongy crème-filled cakes down greedily, naively confident that Twinkies would always be in stock for next Christmas.So even though I no longer gorge myself on Twinkies, I totally understood when the announcement late last year that Hostess was filing for bankruptcy gave rise to howls of anguish around the Internet over the prospect that many of the company’s tasty snacky-cakes would no longer be available to consumers – including Twinkies...

March 22, 2013 — Jennifer Ouellette
Scroll To Top