Sigma Xi Innovation

Sigma Xi

Here is a proposal I have for Sigma Xi. We form a separate profit-seeking corporation with the dues-paying members as shareholders. Call it something like Sigma Xi Innovation (SXI). The mission of SXI would be to provide guidance to its shareholders in the development of ideas from the STEM group of disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to successful commercial products and services. SXI would provide, through its qualified experts/shareholders, staff, and outside-contracted persons — all the necessary counsel to complete the transition from nascent idea to going concern. Continue reading

S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan awarded National Medal of Science

Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan

Centre of Mathematics for Applications friend and Abel laureate S. R. “Raghu” Srinivasa Varadhan has recently been awarded the National Medal of Science by United States President Barack Obama. Raghu is Professor of Mathematics and the Frank Jay Gould Professor of Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University. The National Medal of Science is the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States to scientists, engineers, and inventors.

The citation accompanying the award reads in part: “[Professor Varadhan is honored for] his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior, which has revolutionized this field of study during the second half of the twentieth century and become a cornerstone of both pure and applied probability. The mathematical insights he developed have been applied in diverse fields including quantum field theory, population dynamics, finance, econometrics, and traffic engineering.” Continue reading

Antonio Pita for Sigma Xi President

Sigma Xi

This is my endorsement of the candidacy of Antonio Pita for President of Sigma Xi, and I urge you to vote for him. Antonio, who is a close friend and has been my mentor within Sigma Xi, is best qualified for this position, one of the most visible and influential in the scientific enterprise.

First of all, Antonio is a front rank engineer and scientist. Within this year he has been granted patents on an industrial process to manufacture glass free of bubbles. This is an astounding achievement, to improve a process which has been with humankind since pre-history. Continue reading

The Euro crisis, and solution — so simple

One Euro

It is often noted that the carpenter approaches any problem as a nail, so he takes out his hammer to hit it. So here comes my description of the Euro crisis, and its solution. As I do stochastic analysis these days, I bring my toolkit, Brownian motions and all.

As any mother chasing her two-year-old around the airport knows, a path of a stochastic process can be erratic, with lots of surprises. So it is with economic variables. Any sequence of numbers, be they stock market prices, temperatures at noon, or the course of the Gross Domestic Product of Greece, if they contain uncertainty about what the next number will be, is a stochastic process. Continue reading

Asteroid hits Norway! — unlikely

Ceres through Hubble telescope

We have lots to worry about nowadays, but getting hit by an asteroid in Norway is not one of them. Consider the facts. Norway has only about 0.075% of the earth’s surface area, including the oceans. That would give the country a very small chance of getting hit, even considering that an asteroid might make an impact straight down anywhere on earth. The chance is actually less than than that, though, because an asteroid would arrive to the earth’s apparent disk traveling in the plane of the ecliptic.

Assuming that the impact point would be uniformly distributed over the apparent disk, Norway makes a smaller target than even its tiny area would indicate, because it is situated in the far north. Oslo’s location is about 60 degrees north latitude, making the apparent north–south image only about one-half what it would be if located at the equator, owing to the curvature of the earth away from an asteroid’s inbound path. And much of Norway is well north of Oslo, even north of the Arctic Circle. Continue reading

Up and running on mobile!

Apple iPhone

Now the current events essence of my site is conveniently available to mobile devices — smart phones, iPads and iPods, digital cameras, GPS locators, and anything else that can receive web content and that you can stuff into your pocket. This enhancement of the site — for all you techies out there — is accomplished through the installation of a single amazing plug-in.

Available now is my News Page, including all personal and professional posts, and also a Personal page, along with my Contact information. Jump on board and enjoy this content, and, of course, if you want the full experience, go to my site on your computer. And please leave your comments. I enjoy reading them, and frequently take your advice to heart for improving my site. See you again soon.

Café Fedora

Café Fedora

Café Fedora in Oslo’s Frogner neighborhood is an absolutely wonderful café based on a 1920s and 1930s American theme. Husband and wife owners Anthony and Nicole are the ideal couple to present this format as they are American and promote the theme in a very friendly and professional manner. The food is fabulous. I love the chicken Caesar salad, and keep returning to it time and again. My wife enjoys the quiche-of-the-day offering, and recently I tried — as the very first customer — the buttermilk biscuits and gravy. Fabulous! I say, just like in the Old South.

The Key lime pie (original recipe from Key West, Florida) just floats across the tongue with a citrus explosion, and the pecan pie, well, it’s to die for. In fact, if you follow the buttermilk biscuits and gravy with the pecan pie you’ll think you’ve died and gone to, well, Atlanta. Needless to say, in order to have this highest of quality across the board Anthony and Nicole procure the freshest of produce and finest of all other ingredients, and combine them in an artful and satisfying way. Continue reading

The Norway terror: What could have been done better?


It has been a month today since the horrible events in the government quarter of Oslo and on Utøya. Last evening a memorial service was held in the Oslo Spektrum featuring addresses by King Harald and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and a reading of the names, with displayed pictures, of all the victims. It was indeed an impressive and solemn occasion, the last, perhaps, of such major gatherings of the sad and the bereaved, at least for awhile. Continue reading

The Anders Behring Breivik code matter


As widely reported, the Manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik contains coded information which may lead to geographic locations in major European cities. Further, the Manifesto may contain other coded information, which by speculation could identify conspirators or possibly the existence of armed and timed explosive devices. The speculation, if true, would have the obvious dire consequences.

At present, Norwegian security analysts, assisted on invitation by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others, are intensively investigating the Manifesto for coded expressions and their translations to plain language. In this endeavor knowledge of speculated content is important, though providing an obvious bias to the decoding effort. For a simple example, consider that one suspects that a code says, “The sky is blue.” One then looks for patterns containing the coded words for “sky” and “blue.” Upon supposedly finding them the decoding soon follows. However, suppose the true coded message is, “Tomorrow it will rain.” That message will be missed completely. If the analyst had been looking instead for the words “tomorrow” and “rain,” then perhaps he would have found the true message. The failure, in the first instance, is to accept a false hypothesis, an error known as a Type II error in the world of hypothesis testing. (A Type I error would have been to reject, “The sky is blue,” assuming that had been the true coded message.) Continue reading

Hanne Orvik and Steinar Jessen, RIP

Government Quarter Attack

Hanne Orvik was a childhood friend of my wife Bente. As children and neighbors they played together and went to school together, until they eventually went to separate schools at age 14. They were best friends. Keeping in touch, they knew of each other’s doings for the next 15 years. Then through life’s circumstances they drifted apart, but surely would have welcomed each other warmly on any occasion, even after many more years had passed. Continue reading