Jean-Luc Thiffeault recently was featured in the Washington Post's Wonkblog on his paper exploring the mathematical history of taffy pullers. (Link to paper: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1608.00152v1.pdf)
In the Washington Post article, Thiffeault describes moving from exploring taffy as part of fluid dynamics lectures to exporing where taffy machines came from and how they've evolved to be mathematical models of efficiency in mixing, if only to introduce enough complexity to avoid another's patent. Thiffeault even thought about how to make his own more efficient model, as evidenced by his prototype for his improved taffy puller. (Link: https://youtu.be/pd_KMGs2nZQ). Rest assured, Thiffeault isn't going to ditch his job to make a living pulling taffy, noting "Making candy is really difficult...The process was a revelation into how complicated it is."
The Global Attractor Conjecture (GAC) is one of the oldest and best studied problems within Reaction Network Theory, and is closely related to the Boltzmann equation. Indeed, the most general setting for the GAC can be traced back to Boltzmann's work on the H-theorem in the 1870s.
Since its formulation in the early 1970s, the GAC has resulted in a flurry of research activity, dozens of papers discussing various special cases, and a litany of false proofs. (The result is so intuitive that even Horn and Jackson, the authors of the groundbreaking 1972 paper "General Mass Action Kinetics", errantly believed they had already proved it!)
In his recent manuscript, "Toric Differential Inclusions and a Proof of the Global Attractor Conjecture", Professor Gheorghe Craciun proposed a proof of the conjecture in full generality. The manuscript represents the culmination of nearly a decade of work, and involves ideas from dynamical systems, differential inclusions, polyhedral geometry, and algebraic geometry.
A few years before Gheorghe's work, David Anderson used a different approach to prove an important special case of the conjecture.
A recent SIAM News article discusses Gheorghe's proof and a recent Workshop to examine it further at San Jose State University in March 2016.
Gheorghe will give a Colloquium talk on this work on September 23, 2016. https://www.math.wisc.edu/wiki/...
Jun Yin was just awarded the Morningside Silver Medal of Mathematics at the opening ceremony of the 7th international Congress of Chinese Mathematicians in Beijing! The medal is awarded every three years to exceptional mathematicians of Chinese descent under the age of 45.
Congratulations to Jun for this very well deserved award!!
Description and a list of past recipients can be found here