Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Wild About Math bloggers 1/21/11

[ The 1/28 edition is at Equalis. Here's last week's edition. ]

Welcome to another edition of Wild About Math Bloggers!

Alex Bellos introduces us to Lee Sallow's fascinating work with Geomagic squares.

[Sallow] realised that you could create a much more versatile magic square, which he calls a geomagic square. Instead of containing numbers, it contains shapes, and that the combination of shapes that you get in each row, column and diagonal can be pieced together to make the same master shape.

Built on Facts has a nice introduction to the zeta function and on its relationship to prime numbers. Hat tip to Shecky.

James Tanton has a new video: Fractions take up no space: Rationals Have Measure Zero. It's a great video that demonstrates in a very understandable way that rational numbers make up a very small (infinitely small) piece of the number line.

If you've not seen George Hart's web-site, check it out. Hart is chief of content at the Museum of Mathematics. There are great geometric sculptures at the site. Hat tip to Mathematics under the Microscope.

There's a nice writeup of Vi Hart (George Hart's daughter) in the New York Times. Here are some great snippets from the article:

Ms. Hart — her given name is Victoria, but she has long since dropped the last six letters — has an audacious career ambition: She wants to make math cool.
. . .
She calls herself a full-time recreational mathemusician, an off-the-beaten-path choice with seemingly limited prospects. And for most of the two years since she graduated from Stony Brook University, life as a recreational mathemusician has indeed been a meager niche pursuit.
. . .
Then, in November, she posted on YouTube a video about doodling in math class, which married a distaste for the way math is taught in school with an exuberant exploration of math as art .
. . .
At first glance, Ms. Hart’s fascination with mathematics might seem odd and unexpected. She graduated with a degree in music, and she never took a math course in college.
. . .
Working by herself, practically embracing a camera on a tripod, she created a video of her doodling seemingly from the point of view of the doodler.

“I want a real first-person view,” she said, “because I want people to feel they can do this. People can. It’s mathematics that anyone can do.”

The ensuing attention has come with job offers and an income. In one week in December, she earned $300 off the advertising revenue that YouTube shares with video creators. She is also happy that, unlike in her early efforts, which drew an audience typical of mathematics research — older and male, mostly — the biggest demographic for her new videos, at least among registered users, are teenage girls.
. . .
Ultimately, she hopes she can be a Martin Gardner for the Web 2.0 era. Mr. Gardner, who died last year at age 95, wrote mathematics columns for Scientific American and other publications. “I want to be the ambassador of mathematics,” she said.

And, here's a new video by Vi, Mobius Story: Wind and Mr. Ug.

Dan at math4love has a great essay: What we talk about when we talk about math. Here's an excerpt that particularly speaks to me:

Talk to a mathematician (recreational or professional), and youʼll more than likely find a reservoir of love, a sheer exuberance of the mind unleashed, and the delight they take in just playing. When we do mathematics, we are playing. We do it because we love it. And just like the point of play is to continue playing (to not rush to the conclusion of the game too quickly; in other words, not to simply win but rather to simply play), the point of mathematics, at least mathematics done well, is not to simply rush to the answer and be done with it, but to explore and savor the surprises along the way.

I'll leave you with Dave Richeson's fun post at Division by Zero: Music is math: ten songs about mathematics. One I particularly love is I will derive.

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  1. Great post! I’m planning to show these videos to my math team next week.

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