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John Baez's Favorite Numbers
April 22, 2010 12:17 AM   Subscribe

My Favorite Numbers by John Baez
posted by vostok (24 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe this would be good as a comment to the thread directly preceding? About numbers?
posted by stoneweaver at 12:22 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


33rd Of August
People's Union #1
Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
Ballad Of Sacco And Vanzetti/Part Two
Children Of The 80's

Wait. Did you say John Baez? Who the fuck is John Baez?
posted by pracowity at 12:40 AM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


He lost me at "quasiperiodic planar patterns with pentagonal symmetry of a statistical nature"
posted by iamkimiam at 12:45 AM on April 22, 2010


which he obtained before Abel declared that "divergent series are the invention of the devil".

I've started my day with a new respect for the divergent series.
posted by three blind mice at 1:02 AM on April 22, 2010


John Baez is actually a cousin (or something like that) of Joan Baez, and a math-physicist at UC Riverside. His 'This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics' blog/column overflows with intersting things...
posted by kaibutsu at 1:02 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


null terminated : do read the pdf slides of the 24 talk. Baez sketches out a brief history of Euler's approach and Édouard Lucas's challenge.

Here's a page on the challenge from Baez's column.
posted by vostok at 1:28 AM on April 22, 2010


Next up: Barb Dylan's Favorite Colors
posted by pracowity at 3:28 AM on April 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


If you're a mathematician doing a calculation and you get the answer 248, it means something completely different than if you get 247 — because the number 248 shows up in all sorts of amazing places, while 247 is just dull.

247 and 248 are both dimmed by the enormous halo surrounding 256. You can't get a good number with 20 of that thing.

One of the first hints of this fact was Euler's bizarre "proof" that

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + … = -1/12

which he obtained before Abel declared that "divergent series are the invention of the devil". Euler's formula can now be understood rigorously in terms of the Riemann zeta function, and in physics it explains why bosonic strings work best in 26=24+2 dimensions.


What.
posted by DU at 4:29 AM on April 22, 2010


That's a "what" of "I need to know more about this formula and it's rigor" not a "what" of "lolmathclassishard".
posted by DU at 4:30 AM on April 22, 2010


Oh, it's in the pdf but hidden after an irrelevant slide.
posted by DU at 4:32 AM on April 22, 2010


It has to do with the zeta function.
posted by King Bee at 5:52 AM on April 22, 2010


The one thing that has proven to be most frustrating in studying any mathematics is the fact that Euler is pronounced like 'oiler.' This gets more interesting given the fact that I love Hockey, and imagining the very possibility that a team from Edmonton could be called the Eulers.

Also: liking the Morning Mathematics on MeFi today.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:04 AM on April 22, 2010


Pretty much every math department softball team in history has been called "the fighting Eulers."
posted by gleuschk at 6:25 AM on April 22, 2010


This looks cool, but I'll have to ask my daughter to explain it.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:28 AM on April 22, 2010


The Fighting Galoises always manage to get get into a brawl and fall apart after a few great first innings. The Commuting Abels are all switch-hitters. The Gaussians though will fucking clean your clock every which way.
posted by kmz at 6:35 AM on April 22, 2010


i too like 8. but i think it was in relation to 'herbie the lovebug' movie growing up.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 6:52 AM on April 22, 2010


John Baez is actually a cousin (or something like that) of Joan Baez, and a math-physicist at UC Riverside.

Albert Baez was also a physicist, father to Joan Baez and Mimi Fariña, and uncle to John.
posted by Killick at 7:00 AM on April 22, 2010


I hate eight. Eight sucks. I have always hated eight. The only thing I like about eight is that I really enjoy writing it in the two-stacked-circles style.

I like six! Six is one of my favorites. It is a perfect number and a triangular number and it is the number of legs on a bee and it is the number of my favorite Final Fantasy game.

Actually, maybe I'll reconsider eight, because it is my shoe size and a good number of slices for a pizza, and I like octopi, though I have never liked spiders. I am also not a fan of octagons, except that's where they have UFC fights, and I find that amusing. So eight is okay after all.

I have very little understanding of what John Baez is talking about, but I'll credit him with teaching me to like eight anyway.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:38 AM on April 22, 2010


I like e. Am I trying too hard? Should I prefer e?
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:32 AM on April 22, 2010




I only went through the first batch of slides and my mind is already blown. That last continued fraction equation makes me want to read a continued fractions textbook, and I forget the last time I experienced that sensation. Thank you John Baez and thank you vostok. I am going to take a short rest before I have a go at the second batch of slides.
posted by bukvich at 11:13 AM on April 22, 2010


Pretty much every math department softball team in history has been called "the fighting Eulers."

Not long after Serge Lang died, some people in my department joked about starting a soccer team called "Lang's Soccer"; I mean, really, how do we know Lang didn't write a book about soccer?
posted by madcaptenor at 5:22 PM on April 22, 2010


Actually, the most frustrating thing about pronunciation of mathematicians is that Euler is pronounced "Oiler" but Euclid isn't pronounced "Oiclid".
posted by madcaptenor at 5:27 PM on April 22, 2010


Monstrous Moonshine. I have a good book on number theory that I need to spend a few months trying to understand before I can figure out where to start understanding it.

There's probably another step or two in there before I can start understanding what's going on. Let's go shopping.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:39 PM on April 22, 2010


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