Just in time for Valentines Day, Wolfram Research releases Mathematica Home Edition for $295 (chocolates not included), a small fraction of the full professional edition price: Get it now your own and make your valentines with Mathematica! Find the true mathematical expressions of your love! (Or test out that new sexual geometry without injuring yourself  just kidding.)
Read all about it at MacWorld, MacNN, and Business Week.
My son Peter is really thrilled that decorating Easter eggs with Mathematica, something that he thought up, is used on the announcement page as an example.
(See also my post Who Among You are Geek Enough to Decorate Your Easter Eggs in Mathematica?)
Jeff Hamrick of the Wolfram Research Special Projects Group has done a blog post giving instructions for using Mathematica to analyze the US Presidential Election. He shows how to pull polling data into Mathematica and how to use some of the Mathematica 6 data libraries to create your own Red State/BlueState maps.
I think this is very interesting stuff because, for those of you with Mathematica out there, you don't have to rely on how other people choose to analyze and map this data. If you have questions of your own you can introduce your own data and draw your own maps. I will be very curious to see what people come up with.
Did the dog eat that box of chocolates you bought? Or is your love on a higher plane of existence than can be expressed by mere candy, champagne, diamonds, lingerie, sonnets, teddy bears, flowers, and fine dining?
Then Wolfram Research has just what you need: Equations for Valentines from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project!
(What other Valentine comes complete with source code?)
(Via Walking Randomly and the Wolfram Blog.)
UPDATE: See also A Valentine's Day Surprise.
Stephen Wolfram has written a few thousand words on the structure of universes which is, as might be expected, quite interesting. My favorite passage is this one:
A good friend of mine has kept on encouraging me not to throw away any even vaguely plausible universeseven if we can show that they're not our universe. He thinks that alternate universes have to be good for something.
I certainly think it'll be an interestingalmost metaphysicalmoment if we finally have a simple rule which we can tell is our universe. And we'll be able to know that our particular universe is number suchandsuch in the enumeration of all possible universes.
As a science fiction editor, I know what alternate universes are good for!
Yifan Hu at Wolfram Research has come up with a computer model of the I35 bridge that shows how the bridge could have collapsed with the failure of only 3 pieces. He explains:
The picture below shows the computed stresses in a simple 2D model of the I35W bridge, with red meaning more stress. (I got the geometry from news pictures.) There are definitely aspects of the model that are not realistic. For example, the weight of the trusses themselves isn't included. And, of course, it's in 2D.
So what happens if one of the trusses weakens?
It's easy to include this in the computation by adding an upper bound on the stress in that truss. That just adds another inequalitywhich FindMinimum has no problem with.
One can actually compute all this in real time inside Manipulate. Here's an animation of the result:
One sees that when the truss with maximal stress weakens (shown in yellow), the stress spreads out to other parts of the bridge. If one weakens the next truss, then the stress propagates further. And when one weakens yet another truss, then the constraints can't be satisfied at all any moreso there is no static equilibrium for the bridge, and the bridge cannot stay standing.
See it HERE.
In a short essay "The Space of All Possible Bridge Shapes," composed in response to the Minneapolis bridge collapse, Stephen Wolfram suggests design principles that could lead to stronger bridges:
. . . it's been known for a while that the best networks don't have that kind of simple structure. In fact, they almost seem in some ways quite random.
Well, what about bridges? I strongly suspect that there are much better truss structures for bridges than the classic ones from the 1800sbut they won't look so simple.
I suspect one can do quite well by using simple rules to generate the structure. But as we know from NKS, just because the rules to generate something are simple, it doesn't mean the thing itself will look simple at all.
Two students at our NKS Summer School (Rafal Kicinger and Tom Speller) have investigated creating practical truss structures this wayand the results seem very promising.
So what should the bridges of the future look like? Probably a lot less regular than today. Because I suspect the most robust structures will end up being ones with quite a lot of apparent randomness.

I've posted a bunch of photos from the Wolfram Technology Conference 2006. Enjoy!
I have been retained by Wolfram Research to run the Wolfram Science Conference Blog for NKS2006 which started this morning. I will be crossposting some of all of what I post there.
This is my first conference post made this morning. —KC
Good morning. I'm blogging live from my wellappointed hotel room at the Fairmont in Washington, DC. NKS2006 starts this morning with the allday NKS minicourse by the Wolfram Science staff, plus a reception this evening, where art inspired by NKS will be on display.
I got here yesterday and have been taking the hotel services for a test drive in advance. The Fairmont found me a very nice babysitter named Hazel whom I will be using for the duration of the conference. Also, they told me how to get a nearby rental car which I used to take the kids on an excursion to Chesapeake Bay yesterday. I have also pretested the hotel bar and the Juniper restaurant: pleasantly quiet, good food and drink priced as you would expect for a hotel like this.
My sister and her husband came over yesterday evening with their kids: I'm told the hotel pool is very nice, though lacking much of a shallow end for small children and that their pizza ordered from room service arrived about when room service said it would (within about 35 minutes).
A bit after 9, I encountered Stephen Wolfram in the elevator who said he expected we would all have a lot of fun this weekend.
While it may look like I've been slacking off and letting my blog go to seed, actually, I've been working very hard back here on the other side of the monitor.
Important announcement: I will be doing a separate blog for the Wolfram Research NKS 2006 Conference, held in Washington, DC June 15th  18th. (For the uninitiated, NKS stands for New Kind of Science, named for Stephen Wolfram's book.) It is a paid blogging gig, funded by Wolfram Research. URL to be announced. But I expect that it will be way cool, given the subject matter. WATCH THIS SPACE for further info.
On another subject, i gave a long interview to a reporter from the financial press on the subject of digital cartography this morning. There was a lot to say. By the end of the interview I was quite exhausted.
Anyway, I've got a lot of oranges in the air right now, and expect shortly to resume giving you a taste of them from time to time. Just now they are flying a little too fast. Lots of good stuff going on. More later.