ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "mathematics communication"

Roots of Unity

Some Infinities Are Bigger than Other Infinities, and Some Are Just the Same Size

How to count potatoes by pairing them with numbers. Image: Yen Duong.

Warning: contains minor spoilers for The Fault in Our Stars. I recently read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, now a major motion picture that has led to theft in Amsterdam and a shortage of dry eyes in movie theaters around the world. One of the ideas that resonates with Hazel, the 16-year-old narrator [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

How Not to Be Wrong (Book Review)

How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg. Image courtesy of Penguin Press.

How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg. Image courtesy of Penguin Press. How Not to Be Wrong, the first popular math book by University of Wisconsin-Madison math professor Jordan Ellenberg, just hit the shelves. In addition to a Ph.D. in math, Ellenberg has an MFA in creative writing and has been writing about math [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

MoMA to MoMath: a Mathematician’s Picks for Art in New York City

A sculpture made of matches from the Compounding Visions exhibition by Trevor and Ryan Oakes at the Museum of Mathematics. Photo: Adriana Salerno.

I was in New York City earlier this month, and in addition to finally having an excuse to ride the Staten Island Ferry (I gave a talk there), I managed to make it to a few of the excellent museums in the city. I don’t go to art museums to try to find connections with [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

The Math Wars, Lewis Carroll Style

Lewis Carroll in 1863, photographed by Oscar Gustave Rejlander. Image: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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). Though it takes the form of a play, it is a defense of Euclid’s Elements as the best textbook for geometry. Carroll’s introduction lays out his purpose and why [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

Does 1+2+3… Really Equal -1/12?

Divergent series Lucille says, "1+2+3...=-1/12." Video from Fox, gif from fanpop.com.

A Numberphile video posted earlier this month claims that the sum of all the positive integers is -1/12. I’m usually a fan of the Numberphile crew, who do a great job making mathematics exciting and accessible, but this video disappointed me. There is a meaningful way to associate the number -1/12 to the series 1+2+3+4…, [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

Apply Now for an AAAS Mass Media Fellowship

The 2012 Mass Media Fellows at orientation in Washington, DC. Image: Jessica McDonald.

I started writing about math and science in June 2012 thanks to an AAAS Mass Media Fellowship sponsored by the American Mathematical Society. Every year, the fellowship provides opportunities for math and science graduate students to work for mass media outlets such as Scientific American (where I worked), NPR, the Chicago Tribune, and so on. [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

These Hypocycloids Will Make You Happy

A 2-cusped hypocycloid rolling inside a 3-cusped hypocycloid rolling inside a 4-cusped hypocycloid... Image: Greg Egan. Used with permission.

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 [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

A Cuddly, Crocheted Klein Quartic Curve

A cuddly Klein quartic. Image copyright Daina Taimina. Used with permission.

Last week, mathematician and artist Daina Taimina shared her latest creation on Twitter. It’s a model of a surface called the Klein quartic. Isn’t it cute? So what is it? The Klein quartic surface is a 2-dimensional object with 3 holes that has a lot of symmetries. In fact, it has as many symmetries as [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

How the Simpsons (And You) Can Multiply by Seven Using Your Fingers

3 times 7 is...25? What?

When I tutored elementary school math, one of my favorite things to show the kids was how to multiply by 9 using their fingers. (I apologize, but this trick assumes that you have five fingers on each hand. Later you’ll see how to adapt it if you have nonstandard hands.) Here’s how the finger rule [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

When Numbers Are Used for a Witch Hunt

One of the original Victorian Courtrooms at the Galleries of Justice Museum. Image: Fayerollinson, via Wikimedia Commons.

I recently finished the excellent book Math on Trial by Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez. In it, the authors collect examples where statistical errors have possibly altered the outcome of trials. This weekend I’ll be on a panel about using statistics in science writing, and while the book looked at numbers in the courtroom, many [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Dinosaurs

Get Total Access to our Digital Anthology

1,200 Articles

Order Now - Just $39! >

X

Email this Article

X