Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible

23Oct/100

Wild About Math bloggers 10/15/10

[ I publish a weekly article at Equalis of some interesting gems I've found in the Blogosphere during the past week. I have an agreement with Equalis that I can republish those articles one week after they've published them. So, here's my article from a week ago. Enjoy! ]

Welcome, everyone, to another week of Wild About Math Bloggers.


I just hosted edition #4 of the Mathematics and Multimedia Carnival. From the Carnival, I particularly enjoyed "The Death of the Amateur Mathematician." What does it take to contribute to mathematical knowledge? What does it take to be an amateur mathematician?

Now there are hardly any successful amateur mathematicians although many people still dabble in their spare time in mathematics. In this case, I define a "successful" mathematician as someone who has in some way advanced the pool of mathematical knowledge. The lack of amateur mathematicians is largely due to the fact that in order to be able to advance mathematics, one has to know quite a lot of mathematics, more than is really possible for the typical person. I can't pick up a few books and suddenly be at the edge of what is known, instead I need years of training before I will reach that point, especially in the field of mathematics. Most of what we teach at the high school level, for example, is mathematics that was invented more than 300 years ago.

We have essentially hit the limit for what an amateur mathematician is capable of producing. We should expect only highly specialized mathematicians will produce new knowledge in the area of mathematics for the rest of our future as a species. This limit will eventually increase so that eventually no one will be able to add to the field of mathematics.

Another Carnival article I particularly enjoyed is John Cook's "Variations on Factorial!."

Double factorials often arise in integrals and power series and make it possible to state equations succinctly that would be verbose otherwise. For example,

Maria at the Homeschool Math Blog blogs about the American Math Challenge.


The actual event will take place over 48 hours, beginning on October 26, 2010 at 9 a.m. EST. This is a FREE online Challenge where U.S. students of all ages and skill levels compete against each other in a series of one-minute mental math games, as well as self-challenged curriculum-based activities.

October 18 will open a "practice competition week" open to all registrants.

Denise at Let's Play Math tells us that Sunday (10/10/10) was power of tens day. Denise has a number of links to resources for studying powers of ten. Nice!

Here's a challenging geometry problem from Math Genius. Hat tip to Shecky.

John Cook at The Endeavour has an interesting discussion of the probability that a number is prime.

For those of you who are interested in a sneak peek at some functionality of Mathematica 8, take a look at Mathematica 8 – Control Theory Sneak Peek.

Ed Pegg Jr, at the Wolfram Blog, does a little bit of nice reminiscing of Martin Gardner in anticipation of Celebration of Mind.

Last but not least, Xah's Math Blog introduces us to Detexify:

Detexify is a tool that lets you draw a math symbol and it shows you the code for LaTeX. The tool is created by Daniel Kirsch. At http://detexify.kirelabs.org/classify.html.

I had a lot of fun drawing Math symbols with my mouse and letting Detexify figure out what I drew.

Until next week, be well.

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