Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Wild About Math bloggers 12/17/10

[ The 12/24 Christmas Eve edition of Wild About Math Bloggers! is at Equalis. Here's the 12/17 edition. ]

Fun happenings in the blog world this week. Enjoy.

Robert at Casting Out Nines writes about "Rebuilding the Antikythera Mechanism out of Lego." The Antikythera is an ancient calculator that was used, with striking accuracy, to predict celestial events.

If you've not yet discovered Vi Hart's math doodles (or the rest of Vi's site) you're in for a great treat. Vi exemplifies really well how Math can be great fun. Hat tip to Denise at Let's Play Math! and to the Natural Math list. I particularly enjoyed, beyond the doodles, the page on how to cut apples into platonic solids!

Bachelor's Degree has a list of 20 Incredible TED Talks for Math Geeks. Nice!

Presh at Mind Your Decisions tells about a fun prediction game. Watch the video below and see if you can figure out how the game works.
You can watch this video to learn the secret.

Gary Davis at Republic of Mathematics has a nice exploration about the distribution of digits in the base 3 representation of powers of 2.

Ed Pegg Jr, at the Wolfram Blog, explores the use of Mathematica in computing odds for a non-transitive coin flipping game.

Patrick at Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks shares some notes about his experience at a great education conference in Qatar. There are definitely some innovative things happening in education.

Gene Chase at Random Walks has a nice essay: The Important Theorems are the Beautiful Ones. A nice and quick read if you've ever wondered what makes a theorem beautiful.

Finally, I'll leave you with this interesting little story from Futility Closet:

During the Russian revolution, the mathematical physicist Igor Tamm was seized by anti-communist vigilantes at a village near Odessa where he had gone to barter for food. They suspected he was an anti-Ukrainian communist agitator and dragged him off to their leader.

Asked what he did for a living, he said he was a mathematician. The sceptical gang leader began to finger the bullets and grenades slung round his neck. ‘All right,’ he said, ‘calculate the error when the Taylor series approximation to a function is truncated after n terms. Do this and you will go free. Fail and you will be shot.’ Tamm slowly calculated the answer in the dust with his quivering finger. When he had finished, the bandit cast his eye over the answer and waved him on his way.

Tamm won the 1958 Nobel prize for physics but he never did discover the identity of the unusual bandit leader.

From: John Barrow, “It’s All Platonic Pi in the Sky,” The Times Educational Supplement, May 11, 1993