Whereupon We Rediscover The Glowing Jewels of Mathematical Education
May 23, 2013 7:23 AM   Subscribe

The series of Project Mathematics tapes regularly brought the house down at the annual SIGGRAPH video show; these mathematical animations were glowing jewels among the over-produced, techy-commercial animations usually shown at SIGGRAPH. -- Edward Tufte via edwardtufte.com
I wonder where these jewels might be found ...

All told there are 9 videos, animated by James F. Blinn and produced by Tom M. Apostol at the California Institute of Technology, even through the VHS haze of the 1980's these videos still glow with insight and clarity.
  1. Similarity eduondemand.org
  2. The Theorem of Pythagoras archive.org eduondemand.org
  3. The Story of Pi youtube.com eduondemand.org
  4. Sines and Cosines, Part I youtube.com eduondemand.org
  5. Sines and Cosines, Part II youtube.com eduondemand.org
  6. Sines and Cosines, Part III youtube.com eduondemand.org
  7. Polynomials eduondemand.org
  8. The Tunnel of Samos eduondemand.org
  9. Early History of Mathematic Unknown URL
The eduondemand links are behind a login wall, but free.
"Now, there are a lot of Jim Blinn stories, and I'll tell you what mine is. It was at a session in the 1980's when he was explaining this bug that had ruined one frame in an animation sequence. So he showed us how to fix the bug by holding up the film and cutting out the frame with a pair of scissors." -- Walt Bradsford, SIGGRAPH 98 Keynote
posted by tarpin (8 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
I've never seen these, but I immediately recognized Apostol because:Apostol also provided academic content for an acclaimed video lecture series on introductory physics, The Mechanical Universe.

TMU and in particular the animated mathematical parts were AMAZING. This post is going to rule. I can't wait to clock on something.
posted by DU at 7:48 AM on May 23, 2013

What I don't understand are not more extensive topology videos, well maybe I guess the lack of good 7D glasses.
posted by sammyo at 7:51 AM on May 23, 2013

DU, according to wikipedia, Blinn also worked on the animations for Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Quite a venn-diagram we've got going here. ;-)
posted by tarpin at 7:59 AM on May 23, 2013

My favorite thing that James Blinn is probably responsible for is the scene in the program about integration of The Mechanical Universe where the integral of the Utah Teapot is 42, which is all kinds of awesome wrong in exactly the right way.
posted by oonh at 8:20 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh man, The Mechanical Universe. We used to love the days our teachers would cop out and show us those in class. They were great. We called them "Physics From God" thanks to the deep voiced narrator and magical mathematical visualizations.
posted by maryr at 9:16 AM on May 23, 2013

A few of us were walking through a mall near Pasadena in the mid 80s and passed by an arcade. There, standing a few feet behind the guy playing, was Jim Blinn, all tall and hippy-haired, staring at the game. I wish I had been less awe-struck and had gone up and asked him to tell me what he was seeing.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:49 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

benito.strauss, This is what I imagine ...
posted by tarpin at 2:21 PM on May 23, 2013

"You can use the controls on your VCR to pause or back up and review a scene."
posted by mikelieman at 6:08 AM on May 24, 2013

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