Although they happen fairly frequently, it is always interesting when a leap day appears and that most elusive all dates, Feb. 29th, appears on calendars here, there, and everywhere. Of course, the establishment of the current rule under the Gregorian calendar is an amazing bit of scientific analysis dating from back in the later half of the 16th century. Despite its premier in 1582, the adoption of the Gregorian calendar universally only occurred in 1929 when China was the last country to agree to use it. The most curious thing about the leap day rule is that most people think it occurs every four years. The correct rule is that a leap day occurs every four years unless the year is divisible by 100 (e.g. 1900) excepting it be divisible by 400 (e.g. 2000). Who knew that such a small month could have such a big impact.
Speaking of a big impact here is the column lineup for this week.
Under the Hood continues with its analysis of the classical mechanics scattering from a inverse square law force. This week the focus is on numerical integration of the equations of motion and the validation of theory against numerical experiment. The results show the wonderful predictive power of conserved quantities.
Does anyone remember Sokal’s Hoax? It seems Peter Dreier does and this week he’s decided to come clean with a hoax of his own. Each of these academic episodes seem to prove P.T. Barnum’s old saying about a sucker being born every minute. Aristotle to Digital also shows what they prove about the ‘logic’ (or lack thereof) of the postmodern school of thought.
How much can a simple textbook example really shed on the hidden or unseen costs in the economy. Well, Common Cents argues that it can say a lot. Read about how an innocent homework problem one the laws of supply, demand, and subsidies can be used as a caution against government intervention in a market.
This week About Comics continues its literary analysis of the recent reboot of the Marvel publication universe. The Everything Dies/Secret Wars storyline has a plot that rivals the great epic stories of the classical Western tradition. And the criticism of it is also starting to take on enormous proportions. Read about the story is built on the foundation that the universe is dying and how it is responding to its evident demise.