Math in Movies, iOS, Bing, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, November 28, 2016


New-to-me, but apparently on the Web for at least ten years: a database/list of movies featuring mathematics or mathematicians. “About ten years ago, on a whim, we began to collect movies containing mathematics. Now, as a consequence of that whim, we own a library of more than 800 movies on DVD, VHS, 16 mm, Laserdisc, and some strange thing called a CED video disc. The movies range from those expressly about mathematicians, to those that, for whatever reason, just happen to have a snippet of humorous mathematical dialogue. Over the years, we have found that it is not only professional mathematicians who find the fun in this cinematic mathematics. Just about everybody is charmed by Meg Ryan explaining Zeno’s paradox in I.Q., Danny Kaye singing about Pythagoras’s theorem in Merry Andrew, Lou Costello explaining to Bud Abbott why 7 x 13 =28 in In the Navy, and so on. Our book is an attempt to identify, organize, and engagingly present this fascinating and funny material.”


If you have an Apple phone and you’re having battery problems, you’re not alone. “Apple launched iOS 10 back in September to mostly positive reviews, but with the recent release of a 10.1.1 update, something has gone wrong. A growing number of users are reporting that their battery is no longer functioning correctly, and there’s no obvious reason as to why.”

Bing wants to get holiday hours right. “Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, Bing announced it was helping business owners display the correct hours of operation via their local search listing on Bing.”


You know all those stories about how college admissions officers are busily reviewing all the social media of college applicants, and you could be torpedoing your chances to get somewhere good? Harvard begs to disagree. “A Harvard student may have invented Facebook, but the Admissions Office remains skeptical of the value of reviewing social media profiles in applications to the College. Recently, articles in media outlets such as the New York Times and Forbes have speculated whether it can be advantageous to include social media as a component in college applications. But Harvard admissions officers rarely consider the social media pages of applicants during its review process, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said.”

Engadget reviewed Google Home. “Google Home is a great way to show off just how smart Google is, but it doesn’t feel like an essential experience yet. That’s mainly because it lags behind the Echo in terms of support for third-party services. That makes Echo a smarter buy if you want to control smarthome devices — but Home is a perfectly viable option for those who use lots of Google services.”


Oh, yuck, iCloud calendar spam. “Many iCloud users have recently reported an influx of spam in the form of iOS calendar events and iCloud Photo Sharing invitations. While the delivery mechanism is different, the calendar and photo-sharing invitations traffic in the same old suspect offers for cheap goods as the junk mail and text messages that came before. Unlike those older forms of spam, which can be filtered, blocked or deleted, invitation spam usually offers Accept, Decline (or Maybe) as your options — all of which notify the spammer that your account is live and ready for more unsolicited offers.”


MIT: Creating videos of the future. “With the limitless number of ways that objects can move, teaching computers to predict future actions can be difficult. Recently, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have moved a step closer, developing a deep-learning algorithm that, given a still image from a scene, can create a brief video that simulates the future of that scene.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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