Explorations of a Recreational Mathematician
December 3, 2010 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Let's say you're me and you're in math class, and you're supposed to be learning about factoring. Trouble is, your teacher is too busy trying to convince you that factoring is a useful skill for the average person to know with real-world applications ranging from passing your state exams all the way to getting a higher SAT score and unfortunately does not have the time to show you why factoring is actually interesting. It's perfectly reasonable for you to get bored in this situation. So like any reasonable person, you start doodling.

Vi Hart doodles binary trees, stars, snakes, knots, and elephants in math class, and still manages to learn something.

Don't like doodles? Okay, then may she interest you in some edible polyhedra, fractals, and hyperbolic planes?

Not hungry? Perhaps you'd prefer balloons or beads?

You're more of a music person than a math person? Okay, then allow Vi to help you make musical instruments out of paper.

And if you want both? She's got that covered to.
posted by ErWenn (27 comments total) 122 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whoah! They let students bring video cameras with them to class?? Holy moly that doesn't seem smart.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:47 AM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


She's not only not in class in that video she's not in class at all that I can see. It's hypothetical.

That said, this is an awesome series and her blog has a lot of other math stuff too.
posted by DU at 8:49 AM on December 3, 2010


Goodgriefshetalksveryfastindeed.
posted by afx237vi at 8:53 AM on December 3, 2010


I thought this was a high school student narrating. And the further I watched the more upset I became at how clever and talented this kid was. The artistic talent, the mathematical adeptness. It was kind of bugging me. Until I clicked the "about me" part of the site.

My only thought was "She's my age. And cute." For some reason that made it all better.
posted by strangememes at 8:54 AM on December 3, 2010


This is why my parents limited the number of notebooks they would buy me in a given semester.
posted by sarahnade at 9:02 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's pretty easy to figure out how to slice a cube with a plane to get a regular hexagon. Last summer I was obsessed with slicing cubes by planes, and I worked out the probability that a random plane (which intersects the cube) would give a triangle, quadrilateral, pentagon, or hexagon (1/3, 5/12, 1/6, and 1/12, respectively). That is dependent on a particular measure for the space of planes intersecting the cube, of course, but it's a reasonable one.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:04 AM on December 3, 2010


fist time ever I liked math
posted by Namlit at 9:08 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Namely, if I got things right and recall correctly: if you generate real numbers a, b, and d with a uniform distribution, the set of parameters for which the plane ax+by+z+d=0 intersects the cube is a convex polyhedron with six faces. The regions which correspond to 3-sided, 4-sided intersections and so on can be decomposed into tetrahedra whose volume is easy to compute and gives the fractions above.)
posted by Wolfdog at 9:14 AM on December 3, 2010


It's pretty easy to figure out how to slice a cube with a plane to get a regular hexagon.

You don't even have to slice it. Just hold it up so a corner points straight towards your eye and squint.
posted by DU at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


These are what I draw during meetings. That way if someone asks me 'Whatcha drawing?" I can start telling them, and pretty soon they leave me alone again. Works every time!
posted by echo target at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2010


The music of the HP Septet on the same site is also pretty good. The author of the site composed and conducted the pieces.
posted by jedicus at 9:29 AM on December 3, 2010


Haha, the Everything page, which contains a link to all the main pages of her site, contains a link to the Everything page. WOAH
posted by echo target at 9:34 AM on December 3, 2010


Haha, the Everything page, which contains a link to all the main pages of her site, contains a link to the Everything page. WOAH

Google has a couple funny jokes like this built into their search results. Search for anagram. Search for recursion.
posted by Babblesort at 9:59 AM on December 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


I love this, this was how I doodled in math class, and many other clasees. except without the narration. I still do it in meetings, and some times over lunch break in CAD.... :) Fun
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:18 AM on December 3, 2010


The whole "math class is deadly dull, amirite" shtick is annoying, but those are some great doodles, and her throwaway comments about the underlying mathematics are spot on.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:12 AM on December 3, 2010


Not 100% hypothetical, in one of the videos she shows old sketches from her Italian and Math classes.
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:49 AM on December 3, 2010


Okay, then allow Vi to help you make musical instruments out of paper.

That must be one kick-ass macro.
posted by benzenedream at 12:18 PM on December 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


strangememes: "My only thought was "She's my age. And cute." For some reason that made it all better"

Have to agree with you on that one. I always like it when I find normal looking people who are into weird math stuff.
posted by theichibun at 12:25 PM on December 3, 2010


Step 1: Complete the following steps...
Step 2: Open Infinity Elephants in a new tab.
Step 3: Wait 30 seconds.
Step 4: See Step 1.
Step 5: Profit.
posted by tybeet at 1:43 PM on December 3, 2010


If you want to go crazy, get all 4 videos playing at once from the doodling link and just listen to her voice. I couldn't last a minute.

Make sure you don't stop after the first video from the doodling link, if you're watching them. I though the following 3 were much better and plan on trying her snake/rope/knot technique.
posted by Bort at 2:31 PM on December 3, 2010


Fricking.
Awesome.
posted by rouftop at 2:40 PM on December 3, 2010


My head is spinning. Wonderfully.

Also, I followed one of her links to a different page showing you how to cut a bagel into two linked halves whose cut faces are Möbius strips. I now need infinite cream cheese to spread on my breakfast.

The fact that that page is by one George Hart, who turns out to be Chief of Content at the new Museum of Mathematics in New York, and former professor at Stony Brook, and who also (i) shares a surname with and (ii) is about 'dad' age for the creator of Mathematical Doodling, makes me feel a little less lame for not having gone beyond GCSE (extension paper!) maths.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 6:01 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, I spent quite a bit of time on that bagel thing trying to derive the surface area of the slice. I'd link to my blog entries on it but I got the answer wrong. At least twice.
posted by DU at 6:16 PM on December 3, 2010


It makes me happy to see other people who enjoy learning for fun like this. I'm also kind of blown away by the whole exuberance and broad reach of everything.

Did anyone see her Starcraft art?

Awesome!
posted by freecellwizard at 11:58 AM on December 4, 2010


Love the totally unremarked Le Petit Prince references in the doodle videos. Also, I am now coveting one of those music box thingums (don't miss the Möbius strip piece).
posted by eritain at 3:27 PM on December 4, 2010


Snakes on a plane!
posted by pashdown at 8:23 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hated math (the whole math class sucks amirite resonated with me) but i loved this. It confirms my suspicion that i don't really hate math, I just hated the way I was taught math. This is brilliant.
posted by ukdanae at 2:39 PM on December 6, 2010


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