This happened back in November 2016, but is so neat that it needs to be written about on the blog! MCSP Physics Majors Josh Carr, April Raab, Jacob Barfield, Taylor Ferebee, Hanna Lyle and Connor Sampson (left to right in the picture above) attended PhysCon 2016, a quadrennial meeting sponsored by the National Society for Physics Students,  in San Francisco.

The theme of the conference was “Unifying Fields: Science Driving Innovation”, and our majors got to hear talks by such physics luminaries as Eric Cornell, Persis Drell, S. James Gates, and Neil Turok. The picture below shows Jacob meeting Eric Cornell after his talk. In addition, each of our majors presented their research at a poster session, and had a great time exploring San Francisco, including a trip to the SLAC linear accelerator. As seen in the picture above, Hannah and Josh clearly enjoyed their trip to the accelerator. All in all, it was a great opportunity to learn some new science, present their research findings, and explore a new city!


MCSP Students = Bakers?

by rahmoeller on March 15, 2017

How are Math and Baking related? Well, Tuesday, March 14, 2017 was Pi Day, a day entirely devoted to Pi = π ≈ 3.14. And, as mathematicians can also be quite “punny”, we relate “pi” to “pie”. I mean, typically they are both related to circles. Anyway, to celebrate Pi Day, the Roanoke College Math Club has hosted a “Pi” Baking Event for the past 3 years now. Students and faculty come together to bake pies, which we donate to the Salem Food Pantry.

So, on Monday, March 13, eleven students and one faculty member completely took over the Roanoke College Bakery. Of course, the bake shop coordinator Lavelle Glenn was there to first and foremost make sure we didn’t get into trouble, but also help us find what we needed and be in charge of the terrifyingly large ovens. Last year, I forgot to bring the eggs – but Lavelle came to the rescue! Only a baker would have 3 1/2 dozen eggs on hand.

The students peeled 6 bags of apples, measured ingredients, fought with the can openers, mixed ferociously, and created fun designs for the top crusts of the apple pies. Altogether, they prepared 30 pumpkin pies and 20 apple pies.

After preparing all the pies, we had to wait for the pies to bake and cool so that we could package them up nicely in boxes. Did we sit around twiddling our thumbs?? Did we take a nap?? Of course not!! We decorated pie boxes!!

Jan Minton started the tradition of “Pi” Baking Day 3 years ago – now we just need to find an excuse to take over the bakery in the Fall semester. Let me know if you have any ideas!!

I’d like to thank Jan Minton, Lavelle Glenn, Kroger, and the MCSP department for their help, time, and donations. I’d also like to thank the eleven students who gave up an evening to help with the event!

I can’t wait until next year!

Next Pi Day event this week is Thursday, March 16 at 12:15PM in the back quad – come see two MCSP professors get pied in the face! 


Cregger > Cameron

by Roland Minton on March 6, 2017

Roanoke’s Cregger Center has a big “wow” factor. If you ask Mathematica, a software package used extensively at Roanoke, it will verify that the title “Cregger > Cameron” is true.* It may be that Mathematica is making a statement about alphabetical order, but it might be making a value judgment about the spacious new Cregger Center and its Maroon inhabitants compared to Duke University’s cramped, historic Cameron Indoor Stadium and its Crazy inhabitants. However, I prefer to think that Mathematica knows about recent research from Roanoke College’s Stat Crew.

The Crew scraped data for all basketball games this season, for both Division I and Division III (where Roanoke plays). Each team was analyzed as separate home and road teams. For example, Roanoke’s 13 home games were played by “@Roanoke” and its 13 road games played by a different “Roanoke” team. Each half-team is rated using what is known as the Massey Method, which incorporates strength of schedule and results (see the site for a description of this method). A team’s “home court advantage” is then computed as the difference between the team’s home rating and road rating.

Roanoke College had the fifth largest home court advantage in the nation, rating a full 15 points better at home. Duke, on the other hand, rates 2 points better at home. This is less than the national average of 2.8 points home advantage. So the Cregger Center gave a bigger boost to RC than Cameron gave to Duke! For those who are curious, the largest Division I home advantage belongs to Florida State at 15.5 points, while the largest disadvantage belongs to San Diego, which played 11.7 points better on the road than at home.

The Cregger Center is a fantastic facility that offers many advantages to Roanoke College. A large home court advantage for the basketball team is one of them. Go, Maroons!


* This is not modern “fake news” but a more traditional misleading and exaggerated statement. Mathematica is actually evasive when asked directly whether “Cregger > Cameron” is true, but when ordering a list from largest to smallest it will place Cregger before Cameron.


Women physics majors attend CUWiP conference at Virginia Tech

March 2, 2017

Two Roanoke College physics majors,  Morgan Heckman and Rae Galatas, along with physics faculty member Dr. Rama Bala, attended the 2017 Annual Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWip) held at Virginia Tech from Jan 13-Jan 15, 2017.   “The primary goal of the CUWiP conference is to help undergraduate women continue in physics by […]

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I’ve Been Pigged!

February 22, 2017

Well, it’s tough to admit, but on Feb 21, 2017, I was pigged…or, rather, my office was pigged. Why bring this up on a math blog post? Well, you may have heard about the game Pass the Pigs, which can be a very educational game in that it teaches people about probability. This game is very similar […]

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A Sign of Sports Math’s Popularity

February 8, 2017

J.K. Rowling would not be impressed, but Roland Minton was pleased with the throng clamoring for an autographed copy of his new book Sports Math. True, there was only one person in line, but he was very enthusiastic. Sports Math is a textbook for a course in sports science or sports analytics, such as the […]

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Having A Ball

February 3, 2017

Bowling…what a great way to start off the semester! The RC Math Club sponsored a bowling night tonight, and of course, it got a little crazy. It began normally – some students showed off their ability to bowl without getting the ball in the gutter, while others (myself included) just tried to alternate between the two […]

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Stat Crew Goes Live

January 19, 2017

Everybody is getting interested in the Stat Crew! The Crew has been working home basketball games, recording locations of all shots and rebounds and creating reports that evaluate the performance of each player and each five-person lineup. Shown here are Crew members Maria Kuchenbuch, Cameron Eck, and David Moreau, with a guest analyst. At Wednesday […]

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Childers Victorious in Atlanta

January 12, 2017

Roanoke College had a strong presence at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta, with Adam Childers winning an award, four faculty and one student presenting talks, and two other faculty attending. The national meeting, held January 4-7, 2017, is the largest gathering of mathematicians in a year, with over 6000 attendees. David Moreau, a sophomore […]

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Math Lessons and Carols

November 28, 2016

One of the best ways to start the Christmas season is with Lessons and Carols of Christmas, presented by the Roanoke College Choir and Oriana Singers at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. The soaring vocals and warm harmonies bring meaning back to a season cheapened by October decorations and Black Friday madness. Director Jeffrey Sandborg’s choirs […]

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