Can strings be the ultimate constituents of the universe–more fundamental than matter or energy, and even than space or time? If they’re not made of matter or energy, what are they, then?
Last month, I wrote about the -Base, a website that serves a similar function to the book Counterexamples in Topology. I'm teaching a topology class this semester, and it's been fun to revisit some good counterexamples.
On Monday, the Onion reported that the “Nation’s math teachers introduce 27 new trig functions.” It’s a funny read.
I spent about a month in the UK earlier this summer, and that meant I took a lot of train trips. I love riding trains: the feeling of endless possibility I get when I look at the departure boards, the countryside rolling by, the fantastic people-watching, the two-hour delay between Edinburgh and Manchester because a [...]
This year for Math Poetry month, I read Proportions of the Heart: Poems that Play with Mathematics, a collection of poems by Emily Grosholz.
Last week, life took me through Princeton, and I seized the opportunity to drop in to see resident English mathematician John Horton Conway.
My last column outlined points I made in a February 18 debate at my school, Stevens Institute of Technology, about whether religion and science are compatible.
From her earliest memories, Catherine Good was good at math. By second grade she was performing at the fourth grade level, sometimes even helping the teacher grade other students’ work.
Later this month, people will be gathering at museums and schools around the world to build giant Menger sponges as part of a global fractal extravaganza called MegaMenger.
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of women in science, technology, engineering, and math. If you’d like to read about women in math for the occasion, you're in serious danger of coming across an article about Hypatia, Emmy Noether, Sophie Germain, or Sofia Kovalevskaya.
In 1879, Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, published an odd little book called Euclid and his Modern Rivals (available for free at the Internet Archive).
The World Cup is back, and everyone's got a pick for the winner. Gamblers have been predicting the outcome of sporting contests since the first foot race across the savannah, but in recent years a unique type of statistical analysis has taken over the prediction business.
Whether you write it 6/28 or 28/6, today is a perfect day. A perfect number is a number that is the sum of its factors besides itself, and 6 (1+2+3) and 28 (1+2+4+7+14) are the first two perfect numbers.
Evelyn Boyd Granville, the second African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, turns 90 today (May 1, 2014). I first heard her name in a talk by Patricia Kenschaft about African American mathematicians.
For Halloween, I wrote about a very scary topic: higher homotopy groups. Homotopy is an idea in topology, the field of math concerned with properties of shapes that stay the same no matter how you squish or stretch them, as long as you don’t tear them or glue things together.
A few months ago I wrote about some mystifying mathematical and geographic tiles I encountered at the National Tile Museum in Lisbon, Portugal.
On Wednesday, four mathematicians will receive the prestigious Fields Medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in Seoul.
A year ago today, I published my first post on this blog! A lot has happened in that year, and I have had tons of fun with Roots of Unity. My favorite number is six, so here are my six most popular posts of the past year.
Daniel Tammet has memorized Pi to the 22,514th digit. He speaks ten different languages, including one of his own invention, and he can multiply enormous sums in his head within a matter of seconds.
Unless you’re holding a baby or a scalpel, drop everything and read this blog post about hypocycloids by John Baez. (And if you’re holding a scalpel, please put away whatever device you’re reading this on and pay attention to your surgery!) In addition to a lovely exposition by Baez, the post features some gorgeous animations [...]