Tag Archives: wisconsin state journal

The experts list, or: how can a journalist find out how to compute pi to high precision?

A reporter at the Wisconsin State Journal called me the other day with a really good question.  He had heard that pi had been computed to ten trillion decimal places.  And he wanted to know:  how could you possibly measure a circle that precisely?

So how did he know to call me?  Because I’m on the experts list, which UW-Madison’s public relations office set up to give journalists the opportunity to consult a Wisconsin professor on just about any subject.  Topics of current news interest get promoted to the front: on today’s front page we’ve got the professor who can talk about Kim Jong-Il, the professor who can talk about the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Arizona immigration law, and the professor who can talk about the Scott Walker recall.  (I have a feeling that last guy is going to be on the front page for a while.)

Such a simple idea, but such a good one!  The UW-Madison ought to be a resource for Wisconsin journalists — and everybody else in Wisconsin, for that matter.  Good for the PR office for making it as easy as possible to reach faculty who want to face the public and share what they know.

Oh:  here’s the article about pi in the WSJ, by Dave Tenenbaum.  I thought it came out well!

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Prof’s skills add up to Hollywood gig!

So opines Doug Moe in the Wisconsin State Journal, which has a nice interview with me in tomorrow’s paper. Look closely and you’ll see that Ken Ribet has a photo credit!

In case anyone’s coming here from the WSJ and wants to read some of the things mentioned there: you can buy my book here. You can read my Slate columns here, including my thoughts on Barry Bonds and the placebo effect. The best pizza in Berkeley (or anywhere) is Cheeseboard, and the best ice cream in Cambridge (or anywhere) is Christina’s, as described in The Restaurant Hall of Fame.

To a guy like me, for whom “get this paper done in a hurry” means “within the next three months,” Moe’s output of five punchy columns a week is really startling. If you’re not already reading him, check out his recent columns on the surprising difficulty of street-naming and vanity plates too hot for the DOT.

Despite Moe’s lightning speed, his article gets the facts right. Well, except one: I do not “nurse” my coffee. Cold coffee is gross.

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