Laura Kipnis Says She Faced Another Title IX Investigation, This Time for Her Book

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September 20, 2017 by Andy Thomason

Laura Kipnis Says She Faced Another Title IX Investigation, This Time for Her Book

Laura Kipnis, the Northwestern University professor whose Chronicle article titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” sparked a chain of events that led to a Title IX investigation of her, faced another inquiry, The New Yorker reports. That one was prompted by the publication of her book Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, she said.

In her initial essay in The Chronicle, Ms. Kipnis argued that a culture of protection rather than empowerment around sexual issues on campuses was wrongheaded. The response to that essay included the filing of a Title IX complaint against Ms. Kipnis, alleging, in part, that the essay had had a chilling effect on complaints, and an investigation was opened. She chronicled the proceedings in another Chronicle essay, “My Title IX Inquisition,” and was cleared of wrongdoing.

But over the summer, The New Yorker reports, Ms. Kipnis faced another university investigation, prompted by the publication of her new book. The allegations, according to the magazine, were similar to those of the first complaint. In a statement to the university, Ms. Kipnis wrote that “these complaints seem like an attempt to bend the campus judicial system to punish someone whose work involves questioning the campus judicial system, just as bringing Title IX complaints over my first Chronicle essay attempted to do two years ago.”

She was cleared of violating university policy, the magazine says. Northwestern did not respond immediately to The New Yorker’s request for comment.


Carbon dating reveals earliest origins of zero symbol

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Carbon dating reveals earliest origins of zero symbol

  • 15 September 2017

Carbon dating shows an ancient Indian manuscript has the earliest recorded origin of the zero symbol.

The Bakhshali manuscript is now believed to date from the 3rd or 4th Century, making it hundreds of years older than previously thought.

It means the document, held in Oxford, has an earlier zero symbol than a temple in Gwailor, India.

The finding is of “vital importance” to the history of mathematics, Richard Ovenden from Bodleian Libraries said.

The zero symbol evolved from a dot used in ancient India and can be seen throughout the Bakhshali manuscript.

Other ancient cultures like the Mayans and Babylonians also used zero symbols, but the dot the Bakhshali manuscript developed a hollow centre to become the symbol we use today.

It was also only in India where the zero developed into a number in its own right, the Bodleian Libraries added.

Earlier research had dated the Bakhshali manuscript to the 8th and 12th century, but now carbon dating has shown it to be centuries older.

Bodleian Libraries said scholars had previously struggled to date it because it is made of 70 leaves of birch bark and composed of material from three different periods.

The manuscript was found by a farmer in a village called Bakhshali, in what is now Pakistan, in 1881 before being acquired by the indologist Rudolf Hoernle, who presented it to the Bodleian Libraries in 1902.

The creation of zero was one of the “greatest breakthroughs” in mathematics, Prof Marcus Du Sautoy of the University of Oxford said.

Cryptography sets the tone… A story of string instrument making in the 19th century

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Cryptography sets the tone… A story of string instrument making in the 19th century

1 February 2017

Pierrick Gaudry, CNRS researcher in the Caramba team has broken the codes in the accounting registers of major Parisian instrument makers from the 19th century. This deciphering reveals the value of string instruments and provides more knowledge of the history of the instrument-making business.

Jean-Philippe Echard, the curator of the music museum in Paris, found three accounting registers covering a period of nearly 150 years in some archives. These had been kept by the various successors of the great Parisian string instrument maker Nicolas Lupot who founded his workshop in 1795.

These accounts have become yellowed by time but have references to nearly 250 instruments. These were mainly violins bought by the instrument makers with a view to selling them on to their clientele of musicians.

For each instrument, 4 prices were entered – the violin’s purchase price, the desired selling price, the reserve price (the minimum price the instrument maker would accept) and the actual sale price.

The instrument makers coded the purchase price and the reserve price to keep them confidential by replacing numbers with letters. The coding enabled the instrument maker to have the book open in front of clients without the latter knowing his profit margins.

Jean-Philippe Echard therefore contacted Pierrick to ask him to decipher these codes. “In that era, communications were multiplying and coding messages had become fashionable”, explains Pierrick.

Pierrick usually uses powerful calculators for his research but in this case to decipher the codes he just needed a sheet of paper and a pencil. It turned out to be a monoalphabetic substitution cipher. The instrument maker replaced a figure by a letter basing this on a ten-letter word. After trying out a few hypotheses, Pierrick discovered that this code was based on the French word “harmonieux” (harmonious), with the “h” standing for 1 and the “x” for 0 (this was sometimes replaced by “z” as the figure 0 was often used).

Why was the word “harmonieux” chosen? The soundboard – ‘table d’harmonie‘ in French – is the front surface of a violin or any string instrument. It receives the vibration to be amplified, usually via the bridge of the instrument.

Following this discovery, an article was submitted to and accepted by the journal “Cryptologia” which features the historical aspects of cryptography.

This deciphering work revealed numerous secrets about the value of string instruments and more generally on the history of the instrument-making business but also showed that cryptography is not just based on working with computers. It existed long before computers in fact and even involves many other disciplines. The main thing is to make them work together in harmony.

The article can be read on Hal

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