Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Wild About Math blogs 5/27/11

Welcome to Wild About Math blogs!

This is the last edition. If you'd like to put on your own personal Math blog carnival I recommend you follow the large list of blogs at Mathblogging.org and let us all know about the articles you like. I thought I had a pretty big list of Math blogs in my RSS reader; their list is much bigger. You can subscribe to parts or to all of their list via RSS and you can even follow the twitter feeds of a bunch of Math bloggers.

I discovered some really wonderful BBC Math radio shows. See here.

Math Teachers at Play Carnival #38 is up at Mathematics and Multimedia.

I've been spending time at the Math Pickle site, greatly enjoying the simple yet deep and difficult to solve Math puzzles and games there. The "inspired people" page is particularly noteworthy. There are some familiar faces on the page, Martin Gardner, Vi Hart, and James Tanton to name a few. And, there are a bunch of people I don't know much about who I'll have to read up on. Here's one inspired person from the list:

Leo Moser seems to have been the first person who advocated unsolved problems being used in K-12 education. He asked many tough problems with child-like zeal: “What’s the area of the smallest house that a unit worm can live comfortably?” meaning what shape can cover a worm no matter how he curls up?

And, also from the Math Pickle site, is a video of a fun division game with some deep stuff going on beneath the surface.

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Wild About Math blogs 5/20/11

Summer is coming to Santa Fe. Welcome to another edition of Wild About Math Blogs!

Check out the Mathematics and Multimedia Carnival #11 at Love of Learning Blog.

My Playing With Mathematica Blog is doing well. For a new blog, in a niche space, to have nearly 100 subscribers and over 100 article views per day in only three weeks is quite cool! If you're getting up to speed on Mathematica or even if you're a Mathematica whiz I think you'll like the blog.

I really like this essay at Without Geometry, Life is Pointless: Teaching Problem Solving, Part 1: Starting with a Good Problem. Here's the first of five characteristics:

The problem is accessible. It minimizes vocabulary and notation (and vocabulary and notation that does exist should simplify, not complicate). It should only be as precise as necessary. The problem should have multiple entry points, and include ways to collect data of some sort. It should have multiple methods that promote different learning styles and celebrate different ways of being smart. It may have multiple valid solutions.

Brent Yorgey, one of my very favorite Math bloggers, has a nice little proof by induction of a neat property of numbers in the Fibonacci series. This is a good example of proof by induction for those new to the technique.

The Wolfram Blog has a fascinating story: Former Microsoft CTO Uses Mathematica to Explore the Science of Modernist Cuisine.

Ever wondered how to grill the perfect steak? Or how well dunking food into an ice bath stops the cooking process? Nathan Myhrvold used Mathematica to answer these questions, and many others.

Myhrvold, the first chief technology officer at Microsoft, has had a longtime interest in cooking and has a background in science and technology. When he started using new techniques like sous vide, in which food is slowly cooked in vacuum-sealed bags in water at low temperature, he discovered that many chefs don’t know much about the science behind cooking. He decided to change that with a massive cookbook that was released in March. In 2,438 pages, Modernist Cuisine covers a wide range of cooking techniques and their scientific backgrounds, including heat transfer and the growth of pathogens. (It has recipes, too.)

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Wild About Math blogs 5/13/11

Welcome to the post-Mother's Day edition of Wild About Math Blogs!

Carnival of Mathematics #77 has been posted at Jost a Mon.

Scientific American just republished a wonderful article they originally published in 1961: The Mathematician as an Explorer. Hat tip to Shecky.

Murray at squareCircleZ has a very thought provoking article: Is there a place for invention in math?

Each time one prematurely teaches a child something he could have discovered for himself, that child is kept from inventing it and consequently from understanding it completely.

Statistics lovers might enjoy this little gem from xkcd:

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Wild About Math blogs 5/6/11

Hello, everyone! Here's this week's blog roundup.

My new blog, Playing With Mathematica, is doing well. In only a week the blog has gotten 45 subscribers and 1,000 page views. Plus, I've been getting a good number of comments and participation from Mathematica wizards. There are three interactive notebooks on the site. My aim is to have two new notebooks each week. Come check it out.

Oxford University Press sent me a review copy of the revised and updated edition of their book, The Number Sense, by Stanislas Dehaene.

Our understanding of how the human brain performs mathematical calculations is far from complete, but in recent years there have been many exciting breakthroughs by scientists all over the world. Now, in The Number Sense, Stanislas Dehaene offers a fascinating look at this recent research, in an enlightening exploration of the mathematical mind. Dehaene begins with the eye-opening discovery that animals--including rats, pigeons, raccoons, and chimpanzees--can perform simple mathematical calculations, and that human infants also have a rudimentary number sense. Dehaene suggests that this rudimentary number sense is as basic to the way the brain understands the world as our perception of color or of objects in space, and, like these other abilities, our number sense is wired into the brain.

I've not had a chance to read it but I see that the old edition has a number of reviews on Amazon and almost every single one is four or five stars. (The updated edition is too new to have many reviews.)

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Wild About Math blogs 4/29/11

Welcome to another edition of Wild About Math blogs!

Playing With Mathematica has taken its maiden voyage. If you're a Mathematica lover, or wish you were, check out the new site. I'm engaging the community of Mathematica wizards to help me get up to speed and you benefit because I'll be taking apart Mathematica programs that do neat things and explaining them step by step in a Mathematica notebook. You will need Mathematica to open and interact with the notebooks so I realize that the site won't be for everyone. But, for many people, I believe it will fill an education gap.

math4love has a great article about algorithmic art, including a video of a "human algorithm." The article is of particular interest to me as I dive into Mathematica as I see Math+art as a great medium for exploration. Be sure to follow the links in the article.

Alfred Posamentier is a great writer of popular Math books. I've never seen him or heard him speak, until now.

Hat tip to Shecky.

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Wild About Math blogs 4/22/11

Welcome to another edition of Wild About Math blogs!

I'm about to start a new blog about the intersection of Math+kids+exploration+programming+Mathematica.

I’m about to start a blog about programming with Mathematica as a way for kids (and adults) to get engaged with Math. I’m pretty new to Mathematica and I find myself getting stuck with some of the basics (which will make the new blog all the more valuable.)

If you have experience with Mathematica and can help me with writing some simple animations I would be incredibly grateful and, of course, I will acknowledge you in the blog and (if you like) I’ll link to your site.

In the new blog I’ll be writing how-to articles where I dissect some simple Mathematica code and show readers how to do neat explorations.

If you can help please drop me an email at

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Wild About Math blogs 4/15/11

Here we go with another edition of Wild About Math Blogs!

Check out this impressive April Fool's video on complex numbers.

Hat tip to Dan.

Carnival of Mathematics #76 has been posted at Walking Randomly.

Check out this great sculpture with 80 pencils!

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Wild About Math bloggers 4/8/11

Welcome to the April 8th edition of Wild About Math Bloggers!

What's special about Algebra II? The Washington Post reports that ...

Of all of the classes offered in high school, Algebra II is the leading predictor of college and work success, according to research that has launched a growing national movement to require it of graduates.

Hat tip to Shecky.

Try your hand at this problem that lends itself to proof by induction.

It is known that

is an integer number. Prove that is also an integer number for any integer n.

Discussion and hints: Use mathematical induction. First square the given integer number to show that is also an integer number, thus proving the statement for n = 2 .

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Wild About Math bloggers 4/1/11

Welcome to April!

The 9th Mathematics and Multimedia Blog Carnival is hosted at Virtual Math Tutor. Check out this perpetual motion waterwheel I discovered at the Carnival:

Math Teachers at Play 36 is published at Math Hombre.

Check out the article (and video below) of a 12-year old physics genius. The article title refers to the boy as autistic but, if you read the article, you'll learn that the boy has Asperger's Syndrome. HUGE difference. (Hat tip to Shecky.)

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Wild About Math bloggers 3/25/11

Welcome to Spring!

Conrad Wolfram writes about how the usability of the Wolfram Demonstration site has been greatly improved:

Our "knowledge app" site demonstrations.wolfram.com was completely redesigned to use the inline Mathematica 8 or free Wolfram Player plug-in rather than having to open a separate window (alongside various other changes).

This apparently small plug-in change makes a big usability difference and by the same token, it changed the site workflow quite a bit. It also required the latest version of Player--just releasing too--and itself quite a feat of engineering.

Division by Zero has an exploration of Albrecht Dürer’s ruler and compass constructions.

These constructions are definitely Geogebra-worthy.

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