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posted by frogan on May 28, 2007 - 29 comments

Aptitude Schmaptitude! *While the state of mathematical incompetence in this country has been much lamented, most famously in Paulos's brilliant 1988 book Innumeracy, it is still tacitly accepted . . . Being incompetent in math has become not only acceptable in this widely innumerate culture, it has almost become a matter of pride. No one
goes around showing off that he is illiterate, or has no athletic ability, but declarations of innumeracy are constantly made without any embarrassment or shame. *

posted by jason's_planet on May 3, 2007 - 140 comments

posted by jason's_planet on May 3, 2007 - 140 comments

The Narrow Road : in which a professional mathematician guides you through pure mathematics (and touches on tangential issues).

posted by phrontist on May 1, 2007 - 10 comments

posted by phrontist on May 1, 2007 - 10 comments

Win £500 from the Royal Society of Chemistry (or a place on a Chinese science undergraduate course) if your math skills are up to it.

posted by hoverboards don't work on water on Apr 25, 2007 - 25 comments

posted by hoverboards don't work on water on Apr 25, 2007 - 25 comments

Math Team Solves the Unsolvable E8

"If you thought writing calculations to describe 3-D objects in math class was hard, consider doing the same for one with 248 dimensions. Mathematicians call such an object E_{8}, a symmetrical structure whose mathematical calculation has long been considered an unsolvable problem. Yet an international team of math whizzes cracked E_{8}'s symmetrical code in a large-scale computing project, which produced about 60 gigabytes of data. If they were to show their handiwork on paper, the written equation would cover an area the size of Manhattan."

posted by ericb on Mar 19, 2007 - 67 comments

"If you thought writing calculations to describe 3-D objects in math class was hard, consider doing the same for one with 248 dimensions. Mathematicians call such an object E

posted by ericb on Mar 19, 2007 - 67 comments

Images of Aggregation "These works come from a study of organic natural forms and their relationship to simple mathematical rules." See videos, and also, Images of Flow. [via]

posted by dhruva on Mar 11, 2007 - 9 comments

posted by dhruva on Mar 11, 2007 - 9 comments

Alain Connes has a blog. Terry Tao also has a blog. Two Fields medalists blog on open problems, their views on mathematics, and Tomb Raider. Timothy Gowers doesn't have a blog, but does have a compendium of informal essays on topics like Why is multiplication commutative? If you prefer pictures to words: Faces of Mathematics.

posted by escabeche on Mar 10, 2007 - 15 comments

posted by escabeche on Mar 10, 2007 - 15 comments

Zelda and the Golden Ratio. A fascinating examination of the music from Nintendo's Zelda games, and the recurring appearances of 0.618, the bisection point on a line at which the relationship of the shorter segment to the longer one is the same as that of the longer section to the whole line.

posted by jbickers on Mar 7, 2007 - 24 comments

posted by jbickers on Mar 7, 2007 - 24 comments

Everything you know about Pythagoras is wrong (except the bit about the beans). Less the golden-thighed Einstein of the Ancient World and more the L. Ron Hubbard of Magna Graecia. [Last link has some rude words]

posted by Kattullus on Feb 22, 2007 - 41 comments

posted by Kattullus on Feb 22, 2007 - 41 comments

What if Euclid had been Japanese? There are traditionally stated and proved theorems *about* origami. And MetaFilter has previously explored modular origami (as well as the boring old artistic kind), which has a geometric foundation. However, origami itself is a powerful mathematical framework that allows one to, for instance, solve the famously insoluable problem of trisecting an angle. More generally: Traditional geometry solves quadratic equations, origami solves cubic ones. (Many more mathematical items about and using origami can be found in the excellent mathematics teachers' book: Project Origami: Activities for Exploring Mathematics, most of which are unfortunately not findable online).

posted by DU on Feb 13, 2007 - 9 comments

posted by DU on Feb 13, 2007 - 9 comments

Dr. Jeannine Mosely finishes building a level-3 Menger sponge from business cards. You can also build your own, though Dr. Mosely warns, "[a] level 4 sponge would require almost a million cards and weigh over a ton. I do not believe it could support its own weight — so a level 3 is the biggest sponge we can hope to build." (related)

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 2, 2007 - 19 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 2, 2007 - 19 comments

Mathematicians in the 1940s became curious about Fair Division, thus birthing an entire branch of mathematics concerned with cutting cakes. Recently, this man came up with a new method, purported to be the most fair yet. Hard to disbelieve, coming from the topologist who has mastered shoelaces, although arguably he's missing the point.

posted by eparchos on Jan 15, 2007 - 28 comments

posted by eparchos on Jan 15, 2007 - 28 comments

The "Darwinian paradox" of homosexuality presents the conundrum of how a potential genetic basis for homosexual behavior could provide a survival benefit to offpsring and extend through generations, when sexual reproduction would seem to place strong selection pressure against such a "gene". Recently developed mathematical models (PDF) from researchers Sergey Gavrilets and William Rice not only show how a "gay gene" might proliferate within a population, but also provides testable hypotheses, including predictions of "widespread bisexuality" (subscription req'd).

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jan 14, 2007 - 68 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jan 14, 2007 - 68 comments

Mysterious number 6174. An excellent recreational math article.

posted by fatllama on Jan 13, 2007 - 34 comments

posted by fatllama on Jan 13, 2007 - 34 comments

Dr James Anderson, from the University of Reading's computer science department, claims to have defined what it means to divide by zero. It's so simple, he claims, that he's even taught it to high school students [via Digg]. You just have to work with a new number he calls Nullity (RealPlayer video). According to Anderson's site The Book of Paragon, the creation, innovation, or discovery of nullity is a step toward describing a "perspective simplex, or perspex [ . . . ] a simple physical thing that is both a mind and a body." Anderson claims that Nullity permits the definition of transreal arithmetic (pdf), a "total arithmetic . . . with no arithmetical exceptions," thus removing what the fictional dialogue No Zombies, Only Feelies? identifies as the "homunculus problem" in mathematics: the need for human intervention to sort out "corner cases" which are not defined.

posted by treepour on Dec 7, 2006 - 63 comments

posted by treepour on Dec 7, 2006 - 63 comments

Autodidactic goodies on a budget: Free computer books and online lectures, seminars and instructional materials from a variety of renowned institutions.

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 21, 2006 - 19 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 21, 2006 - 19 comments

Platonic Realms is an online math academy. It features a searchable encyclopedia with extended articles on things from Cantor's Theorem to Zeno's Paradox of the Tortoise and Achilles. You'll also find minitexts, such as "Coping with Math Anxiety" and "The Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher". Last but not least, a searchable math quotes database.

posted by owhydididoit on Sep 9, 2006 - 4 comments

posted by owhydididoit on Sep 9, 2006 - 4 comments

Grigory Perelman, awarded the Fields Medal for his work on the Poincare Conjecture, talks to the New Yorker.

posted by Gyan on Aug 29, 2006 - 17 comments

posted by Gyan on Aug 29, 2006 - 17 comments

Proofs and Pictures: The Role of Visualization in Mathematical and Scientific Reasoning [video] "The picture is a telescope for looking into Plato's heaven." -- James Brown [cached]

posted by Chuckles on Aug 20, 2006 - 27 comments

posted by Chuckles on Aug 20, 2006 - 27 comments

Grisha Perelman, where are you? Perelman has quite possibly solved one of mathematics biggest mysteries, Poincaré’s conjecture, but has since disappeared.

posted by kliuless on Aug 15, 2006 - 32 comments

posted by kliuless on Aug 15, 2006 - 32 comments

Among his collected works, in the few, short years before mathematician Alan Turing was driven to suicide, he published *"The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis"*, theorizing how a standing wave-like distribution of "cannibal" and "missionary" chemicals might explain how plants and animals develop their shape and pigmentation. Blogger Jonathan Swinton focuses on this more obscure aspect of Turing's research, and reviews some of his posthumous and unpublished efforts — including one of the earliest known examples of digital computation applied to the field of biology.

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 7, 2006 - 10 comments

posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 7, 2006 - 10 comments

The Zero Saga contains a great deal of information about the concept of zero, and its relation to other numbers and concepts in mathematics. It was linked in Good Math, Bad Math; which contains a variety of other informative articles on the numbers that capture our imaginations. (**Note:** You may want to skip past part 4 of the Zero Saga, as it contains replies to the site, and as such should probably be at the bottom of the page. But, to compensate, the comments on Good Math are better than most blogs I've read.)

posted by Eideteker on Aug 3, 2006 - 11 comments

posted by Eideteker on Aug 3, 2006 - 11 comments

The Moving Sofa Constant. We have noticed you have a small personal problem with sofas. You move them and get them stuck in hallways. But it's nothing a little math won't fix.

posted by storybored on Jul 21, 2006 - 29 comments

posted by storybored on Jul 21, 2006 - 29 comments

Minimum Sudoku. It is believed (though not proven) that the minimum number of entries in a Sudoku grid that will lead to a unique solution is 17. Gordon Royle of the University of Western Australia has collected 36,628 "minimum Sudoku" grids. Additional reading: an article in American Scientist on determining the difficulty of a Sudoku problem; Wikipedia article on the mathematics of Sudoku; the Sudoku Programmers' Forum on Sudoku mathematics.

posted by Prospero on Jul 19, 2006 - 29 comments

posted by Prospero on Jul 19, 2006 - 29 comments

Math gets a patent.

"The field of invention relates generally to performing division operations using processing components and, more specifically but not exclusively relates to techniques for performing efficient software-based integer division using reciprocal multiplication."

posted by The Jesse Helms on Jul 13, 2006 - 33 comments

"The field of invention relates generally to performing division operations using processing components and, more specifically but not exclusively relates to techniques for performing efficient software-based integer division using reciprocal multiplication."

posted by The Jesse Helms on Jul 13, 2006 - 33 comments

Mapping the StarMaze A tale of mathematical obsession: "Before I can explain my decades-long quest to map the starmaze I must acquaint you with a small puzzle...I have a habit of seeing everything (cities, organizations, computers, networks, brains) as a maze, so I named this puzzle the starmaze....The first problem I ran into was that there were a lot of rooms...I invented wacky names for each room...But something funny happened...In that instant I finally grasped that the starmaze was arranged on the edges of a nine-dimensional hypercube..."

posted by vacapinta on Jun 4, 2006 - 38 comments

posted by vacapinta on Jun 4, 2006 - 38 comments

The Dot and the Line. (by Norman Juster) Read the book. Watch the movie.

posted by jrb223 on May 20, 2006 - 20 comments

posted by jrb223 on May 20, 2006 - 20 comments

Charles Babbage's Difference Engines. One built in 1853. A subsequent design completed in 1991. And again in Lego. Both designs recreated in Meccano parts. [more inside]

posted by slimepuppy on Apr 26, 2006 - 11 comments

posted by slimepuppy on Apr 26, 2006 - 11 comments

"...the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is..." "Yes? Yes!?" "...42."

via Dyson, Montgomery, Princeton, a cup of tea - as presented by Seed Magazine.

posted by loquacious on Mar 28, 2006 - 41 comments

via Dyson, Montgomery, Princeton, a cup of tea - as presented by Seed Magazine.

posted by loquacious on Mar 28, 2006 - 41 comments

The Value of Algebra: "*Gabriela, sooner or later someone's going to tell you that algebra teaches reasoning. This is a lie propagated by, among others, algebra teachers.*"

posted by daksya on Feb 16, 2006 - 190 comments

posted by daksya on Feb 16, 2006 - 190 comments

Notable properties of specific numbers: From Planck time to milli-millillions and myriads.

posted by Rothko on Feb 5, 2006 - 16 comments

posted by Rothko on Feb 5, 2006 - 16 comments

posted by goatdog on Dec 16, 2005 - 14 comments

An awkward resemblance to a certain eigenface might get you pulled aside in Las Vegas. Prof. Hilbert is probably spinning in his grave.

posted by Rothko on Dec 12, 2005 - 24 comments

posted by Rothko on Dec 12, 2005 - 24 comments

Mathematical proofs *in sanus*, with some visualization from Martin Wattenberg's The Shape of Song. "The music here...is a raw and unadorned representation of the mathematics itself, involving few human preconceptions beyond a basic mapping needed to accommodate the Western tonal scale."

posted by Rothko on Dec 4, 2005 - 13 comments

posted by Rothko on Dec 4, 2005 - 13 comments

How to Draw a Straight Line - Until 1873, virtually all mathemeticians and engineers agreed that it was impossible to build a linkage that could convert circular motion to perfectly straight motion. In that year, Lipmann Lipkin rediscovered the Peaucellier cell which had been quietly created a decade earlier. Although much simpler to build, it was predated by Pierre-Frederic Sarrus' non-planar solution. Nowadays, though, linkages can do some extremely complex things. (via)

posted by Plutor on Nov 28, 2005 - 25 comments

posted by Plutor on Nov 28, 2005 - 25 comments

Beyond Discovery - illustrations of the path from research to human benefit

posted by Gyan on Oct 22, 2005 - 7 comments

posted by Gyan on Oct 22, 2005 - 7 comments

A View from the Back of the Envelope - approximations and the fun behind them.

posted by Gyan on Oct 18, 2005 - 25 comments

posted by Gyan on Oct 18, 2005 - 25 comments

Not Lost After All Given recent posts proving and disproving various meanings of the ongoing numbers references on the television program Lost, I figured that some of you would be interested that a person over on Flickr seems to have a much better explanation: they're simply geographic coordinates.

posted by luriete on Sep 30, 2005 - 67 comments

posted by luriete on Sep 30, 2005 - 67 comments

Norman Wildberger's New Trigonometry Dr Norman Wildberger has rewritten the arcane rules of trigonometry and eliminated sines, cosines and tangents from the trigonometric toolkit. The First chapter of his new book, Divine Proportions, is online (.pdf).

posted by Kwantsar on Sep 25, 2005 - 21 comments

posted by Kwantsar on Sep 25, 2005 - 21 comments

Jim Loy's Mathematics Page is (among other things) a collection of interesting theorems (like Napoleon's Triangle theorem), thoughtful discussions of both simple and complex math, and geometric constructions (my personal favorite); the latter of which contains surprisingly-complex discussions on the trisection of angles, or the drawing of regular pentagons.

Similarly enthralling are the pages on Billiards (and the physics of), Astronomy (and the savants of), and Physics (and the Phlogiston Theory of), all of which are rife with illustrations and diagrams. See the homepage for much more.

If you like your geometric constructions big, try Zef Damen's Crop Circle Reconstructions.

posted by odinsdream on Sep 14, 2005 - 8 comments

Similarly enthralling are the pages on Billiards (and the physics of), Astronomy (and the savants of), and Physics (and the Phlogiston Theory of), all of which are rife with illustrations and diagrams. See the homepage for much more.

If you like your geometric constructions big, try Zef Damen's Crop Circle Reconstructions.

posted by odinsdream on Sep 14, 2005 - 8 comments

Know less than nothing!? *What could negative knowledge possibly mean? In short, after I tell you negative information, you will know less...* "In this week's issue of Nature, however, Michal Horodecki and colleagues present a fresh approach to understanding quantum phenomena that cannot be grasped simply by considering their classical counterparts." [via slashdot :]

posted by kliuless on Aug 8, 2005 - 26 comments

posted by kliuless on Aug 8, 2005 - 26 comments

Athanasius Kircher was the 17th century's Jesuit version of the *über*geek. His scholarly attentions were drawn to egyptology, astronomy, magnetism, languages, optics, music, geology, mathematics and many many other pursuits. The "dude of wonders" invented novel machines such as the mathematical organ and magnetic clock, established one of the first museums, published about 40 academic works (with beautiful accompanying illustrations) and was globally revered as one of his time's greatest intellectuals. He is also the main link in the Voynich manuscript mystery. [**MI**]

posted by peacay on Aug 7, 2005 - 12 comments

posted by peacay on Aug 7, 2005 - 12 comments

Fractal animation videos. Tune in. Turn on. Drop in on a dripping skirling-swirling pulsating orgy of self-transforming recursive math. Some with fractal music. (Non-embedded mpeg-1 and mpeg-2 files, like God intended.)

posted by loquacious on Aug 7, 2005 - 15 comments

posted by loquacious on Aug 7, 2005 - 15 comments

Gödel and the Nature of Mathematical Truth : A Talk with Verena Huber-Dyson

posted by Gyan on Jul 29, 2005 - 77 comments

posted by Gyan on Jul 29, 2005 - 77 comments

Godel's theorems have been used to extrapolate a great many "truths" about the world. Torkel Franzen sets the record straight in his new book Godel's Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse. Read the introduction (PDF). If you want, check out his explanation of the theorems.

posted by Gyan on Jun 29, 2005 - 65 comments

posted by Gyan on Jun 29, 2005 - 65 comments

The Logic of Diversity "A new book, *The Wisdom of Crowds* [..:] by The New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki, has recently popularized the idea that groups can, in some ways, be smarter than their members, which is superficially similar to Page's results. While Surowiecki gives many examples of what one might call collective cognition, where groups out-perform isolated individuals, he really has only one explanation for this phenomenon, based on one of his examples: jelly beans [...] averaging together many independent, unbiased guesses gives a result that is probably closer to the truth than any one guess. While true — it's the central limit theorem of statistics — it's far from being the only way in which diversity can be beneficial in problem solving." (Three-Toed Sloth)

posted by kliuless on Jun 20, 2005 - 6 comments

posted by kliuless on Jun 20, 2005 - 6 comments