by Peter Dizikes

MIT economists find a new reason to think that environment, not innate ability, determines how well girls do in math class

When Glenn Ellison’s daughters started middle school in a Boston suburb in 2007, Ellison decided to become a volunteer coach of the school’s math team. While his squad was earning a place in the state finals, Ellison noticed something distinctive about his students.

A team of mathematicians from the Engineering and Architecture Schools of the University of Seville has created a method to design underground lines whereby a city's historical buildings are unaffected. The results of the study, which has just been published in the Journal of the Operational Research Society, offer possible solutions for the future underground line 2 in Seville.

New software is under development that doctors hope will help them identify brain tumours in children that will grow aggressively.

Some brain tumours in children remain benign and doctors choose not to operate. But a small percentage of those will suddenly start to grow aggressively.


Doctors have not identified what triggers that aggressive tumour growth, despite the vast array of data they hold on their child patients – demographic, environmental, genetic and clinical data, as well as images such as MRI and CAT scans of the developing tumours.

Bryan RothScientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco have developed and experimentally tested a technique to predict new target diseases for existing drugs.

The researchers developed a computational method that compares how similar the structures of all known drugs are to the naturally occurring binding partners -- known as ligands -- of disease targets within the cell. In a study published this week in Nature, the scientists showed that the method predicts potential new uses as well as unexpected side effects of approved drugs.

Peter Turchinby Colin Poitras

Using a mathematical model to predict population trends based on ancient coin hoards, a UConn biologist and a Stanford University historian have concluded that the population of ancient Rome was smaller than sometimes suggested.

Although the first century BC in Italy has been extensively studied, and much is known about the great figures of the era, including Cicero, Caesar, Virgil, and Horace, some basic facts – such as the approximate population size of the late Roman Republic – remain the subject of intense debate.

Mathematicians from North America, Europe, Australia, and South America have resolved the first one trillion cases of an ancient mathematics problem. The advance was made possible by a clever technique for multiplying large numbers. The numbers involved are so enormous that if their digits were written out by hand they would stretch to the moon and back. The biggest challenge was that these numbers could not even fit into the main memory of the available computers, so the researchers had to make extensive use of the computers' hard drives.

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This news service is provided by Good Samaritan Institute, located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

GSI is a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of medical research by improving communication among scientists.