Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Jason Ermer – Inspired by Math #23

I'm experimenting with including some shorter podcasts with the hour-long ones. I discovered Jason Ermer's Collaborative Mathematics Project, was very intrigued by what Jason is up to and got him to do a quick interview.

If you like this interview, these shorter podcasts, or these interviews overall, please leave your comments and please click on the social media links and help spread the word. Thank you!

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Erica Klarreich – Inspired by Math #22

Erica Klarreich's name came up a couple of times when I asked people who I should interview for the podcast series. So, I looked her up and was impressed with the in depth articles she had written for Scientific American and a number of other publications.

Enjoy this 22nd "Inspired by Math" podcast.

About Erica Klarreich

Adapted from Erica's web-site:
Erica Klarreich has been writing about mathematics and science for a popular audience for more than ten years. A mathematician before she became a full-time journalist, she writes primarily about mathematics, but has also written about a wide range of other scientific fields, including economics, computer science, medicine and biology.

As a freelance journalist based in Berkeley, California, she has written for many publications, including Nature, New Scientist, American Scientist, and Science News, for which she was the mathematics correspondent for several years. She has also served as the Journalist-in-Residence at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. Her work has been reprinted in the anthologies The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010 and The Best Writing on Mathematics 2011.

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Julie Rehmeyer – Inspired by Math #21

Over the years I've enjoyed Julie Rehmeyer's craft of weaving together serious mathematics into stories that engage those of us who enjoy popular math and science. I recently had the chance to interview Julie and discovered that her exuberance for math is just as great as her talent for writing. Listen to the podcast and see if you agree.

About Julie Rehmeyer

Julie Rehmeyer writes about mathematics and science for Science News, Wired, Discover and other magazines. Her work appeared in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2010. Before becoming a math writer, she taught math and the classics at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and before that, she studied algebraic topology at MIT. In her spare time, she's built her own strawbale house, run a marathon, and mentored foster children.

If you'd like to get in touch with Julie, here's her email. She's happy to connect with listeners of her podcast. [Spambot-resistant image provided by: E-mail Icon Generator.]

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An interview with the Chaos Film Makers

I recently interviewed two of the three makers of the computer-animated Chaos movie, Jos Leys and Étienne Ghys. (The third movie maker, Aurélien Alvarez, couldn't join the interview.) My intent was to turn the interview into an "Inspired by Math!" podcast but we were not able to get good audio quality so I had the interviewed transcribed.

This is a two-hour math movie, divided into nine 13-minute sections. It is really well animated and will hold the interest of viewers of all ages. It is a film about dynamical systems, the butterfly effect and chaos theory.

Here are some of the questions we discussed:

  1. What inspired the two of you (and Aurélien) to create Chaos? What is exciting to you about chaos? Also, tell us about your Dimensions film.
  2. Please explain to our listeners what the film is about and who would enjoy it.
  3. Where does your excitement for math and physics originate from? Please share your stories of how you got inspired about physics.
  4. What inspired you to do animation?
  5. Tell us about the process and the technology you used to make the film. And, how long did it take to make it?
  6. What advice would you give to people who want to get into computer animation of mathematical ideas?
  7. First there was Dimensions. Now there's Chaos. What is your next big project?

Click here to enjoy the text of the interview.

You may remember these film makers from their 2008 movie, Dimensions.

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Dave Richeson – Inspired by Math #20

Professor Dave Richeson is one of the most exuberant math people I've gotten to know but I didn't know how exuberant he was until I interviewed him. He's also involved in a bunch of neat projects. It was one of these projects, documented in Dave Richeson's blog article, How I teach topology: an inquiry-based learning approach, that caught my attention since I have a real passion for collaborative learning.

About Dave Richeson

Dave Richeson is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Dickinson College. He graduated from Hamilton College in 1993 with a degree in mathematics and received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Northwestern University in 1998. He came to Dickinson College after a postdoctoral position at Michigan State University. He is passionate about many areas of mathematics, but his research focuses on dynamical systems, topology, the history of mathematics, and mathematics pedagogy. He is the author of Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology, which was published by Princeton University Press. Euler's Gem received the 2010 Euler Book Prize from the Mathematical Association of America and it was selected by Choice Magazine as an "Outstanding Academic Title" for 2009. He is currently writing a book on the four problems of antiquity. He is editor-elect for Math Horizons, a publication of the Mathematical Association of America. He enjoys sharing his enthusiasm of mathematics with others on his blog (Division by Zero, http://divisbyzero.com) and on Twitter (@divbyzero).

About "Euler's Gem"

From the Princeton University Press web-site:

Leonhard Euler's polyhedron formula describes the structure of many objects--from soccer balls and gemstones to Buckminster Fuller's buildings and giant all-carbon molecules. Yet Euler's formula is so simple it can be explained to a child. Euler's Gem tells the illuminating story of this indispensable mathematical idea.

From ancient Greek geometry to today's cutting-edge research, Euler's Gem celebrates the discovery of Euler's beloved polyhedron formula and its far-reaching impact on topology, the study of shapes. In 1750, Euler observed that any polyhedron composed of V vertices, E edges, and F faces satisfies the equation V-E+F=2. David Richeson tells how the Greeks missed the formula entirely; how Descartes almost discovered it but fell short; how nineteenth-century mathematicians widened the formula's scope in ways that Euler never envisioned by adapting it for use with doughnut shapes, smooth surfaces, and higher dimensional shapes; and how twentieth-century mathematicians discovered that every shape has its own Euler's formula. Using wonderful examples and numerous illustrations, Richeson presents the formula's many elegant and unexpected applications, such as showing why there is always some windless spot on earth, how to measure the acreage of a tree farm by counting trees, and how many crayons are needed to color any map.

Filled with a who's who of brilliant mathematicians who questioned, refined, and contributed to a remarkable theorem's development, Euler's Gem will fascinate every mathematics enthusiast.

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Shecky Riemann – Inspired by Math #19

I got to spend a delightful hour today chatting with Shecky Riemann, apparently not his real name, discussing a bunch of math blogging stuff. It was great to interview a peer as this conversation had a lot of back and forth chatting that doesn't happen when I'm interviewing someone in a higher plane! Shecky's Math-Frolic blog is among my very favorites so it was super fun to get to know who the man is behind the monkey picture!

About Shecky Riemann

"Shecky Riemann" is the fanciful pseudonym of a former psychology/communications major (Pomona College/U of Kentucky) and lab-tech (primarily clinical genetics), who's been enamored of mathematics since childhood, and now hails from N. Carolina. Following Martin Gardner's death (2010), he was inspired to create Math-Frolic blog (and now also MathTango) to pay tribute to Gardner and be a cheerleader-of-sorts for those doing, or interested in, mathematics. He's especially intrigued with number theory, geometry, and the philosophical underpinnings of math. He sometimes enjoys hiking, birdwatching, tennis, flea markets, and hand-drumming. Cats, parrots, and shelties adore him.

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