Given that I am frequently mystified by the obsession with making lists at the turn of the year, I was pleased to see* the New Yorker’s parody of the same with its list of “100 best lists of all time”. See Continue reading ‘List of Lists’
Archive for the 'mathematics' Category
In celebration and anticipation of the unveiling of the Mosely Snowflake Sponge fractal on the USC campus later today, I’m reposting an old post about an edible fractal that I did back in February 2008. They say they will be serving fractal-themed food in the reception, and so I wonder if this is one of the foods that might feature? Don’t forget to come to the event! Recall that I (jokingly) speculated that when this fractal is completed the universe will end, as its purpose will have been served? Well, it seems that this has not come to pass, so… whew.
Imagine my delight when I spotted this lovely piece of edible mathematics in the Hollywood Farmer’s Market this morning. The stall has several of them of many sizes (this was a very little one) and of several colours. Wonderful. If you don’t know what I mean when I talk about the mathematics, or use the term fractal, look it up. There are several things of note, among which are the wonderful spiral structures that you can see (Fibonacci spirals) all over, and which in various ways, encode the infinite sequence of numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233…. (you get the next one by adding the previous two) called the Fibonacci sequence. Ratios of successive members of the sequence, (e.g., 5/8, 8/13, 144/233, etc) approximate what I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post is definitely my favourite number (if I Continue reading ‘Edible Fractals, and the Snowflake’
Loved the Arithmetic line in his Democratic National Convention speech. Go give it a listen.
Yes, Arithmetic rocks.
Over at HuffPo, my colleague Nick Warner has posted a piece about why we teach algebra to people who supposedly “won’t need it”, and he makes some excellent points. (Recall the silly New York Times piece by Andrew Hacker entitled “Is Algebra Necessary?” that I mentioned a few posts ago.)
I recommend Nick’s piece.
I can’t decide whether to be annoyed or amused by the opinion piece by Andrew Hacker entitled “Is Algebra Necessary?” in the New York Times on Sunday*. Annoyed because it is such an obviously flawed piece of writing, essentially saying that since (in the US) the system is failing to teach lots of people basic mathematics in school, the solution is to stop teaching it rather than figure out what is going wrong with the teaching process, while at the same time very lamely trying to make the case that it has no use anyway. Amused because it’s obviously flawed, and hopefully anyone reading it will laugh – one’s first thought has to be that it is not a serious article, given that it it is published in a respectable newspaper with reasonably educated editors.
But one can’t – shouldn’t – laugh, since there are (sadly) many people (lots of whom Continue reading ‘New York Times Nonsense’
It wasn’t all lecture halls, discussion rooms, and cafeterias for the workshop. The organizers arranged for a boat tour last week, and we all sat on one of those splendid long, wide and low tour boats that you often see on the canals in Amsterdam. It was nicely equipped with a bottle of wine at each table, and the crew members handed us each a glass of sparkling wine as we embarked. Very nice. There was a lot of fun chatter from each table for the whole trip around the canals (so much so that they stopped the attempts to inform us over the PA system about some of the sights we were seeing, since the sound was drowned out by the conversations), covering (from what I could hear) a wide range of topics from well beyond physics to matters concerning topics presented in the workshop.
Sometimes pads of paper and pens appeared. Above is a group (David Tong, Continue reading ‘Working Group’
So last week we had a visit from Kelly Stelle (he’s part of the high energy theory group at Imperial College) who gave us an excellent talk about aspects of supergravity. His work connects to the fascinating ongoing story about finiteness, and the new techniques being used to do the multiloop computations (see a recent Scientific American cover story about some of that – it is misleadingly packaged by the magazine, as usual (preview here), but the article itself, focusing on the computational issues, is nice).
After his talk, I gave him a tour of the campus, and as we passed through the Doheny Library to view the lovely interior, we stopped by the ongoing construction of the Mosely Snowflake Sponge fractal that I told you about here.
They’re making a lot of progress.
We spent a few minutes folding some business cards to contribute some component cubes to the construction, and I took a snap (see photo on left) of Kelly at work. We made two or three cubes each…
Here’s a shot of one of the completed modules Continue reading ‘Fractal in Progress…’
This is another lovely short film* by Cristóbal Vila, this time about numbers and nature. As a big fan of the golden mean and the Fibonacci sequence (and Penrose tilings – you’ve read me go on about all that here before), I love the way this is all pulled together:
*Spotted at Lines and Colors.
Ever heard of the Mosely Snowflake Sponge? There is one being constructed on campus here at USC right now! (The image on the left is the poster for the event.) The fractal was discovered by engineer Jeannine Mosely, and she did a similar construction (of a different fractal, the Menger Sponge) some years ago out of folded business cards (see here for some great images!), and the same thing is being done here. You can learn more about the project here. Margaret Wertheim, of the Institute for Figuring, is running this project, with the help of Tyson Gaskill. Everyone is invited to join in. You can just show up and fold a few cubes as you pass by. I took a picture and made encouraging remarks on this visit. (My defense is that I’d just given an hour and a half presentation, it was getting late into the night, and I was tired.)
There’s Margaret and Tyson working on constructing it, alongside a colleague of theirs Continue reading ‘A Snowflake on Campus’
A lovely short film* by Cristóbal Vila, celebrating Escher and a number of lovely mathematical ideas and objects that you might know and love:
*Spotted at Lines and Colors.
Ah. This is just perfect. I actually looked into my Institute For Advanced Study news magazine this time around and noticed a gem I’d like to share. Edward Witten gave a lovely talk entitled Knots and Quantum Theory for a (sort of) general audience, and there is video of it available. Ever wondered why mathematicians study knots? Why do physicists care? What do they bring to the table? Well, this could be a talk for you to take out a bit of time to watch.
Not long ago I wrote a post about Ed, his huge influence on the field of theoretical physics, and some of his role in my own development as a physicist during my time Continue reading ‘Knots from a Master’
You might not have heard of him, so I thought I’d mark the passing, on Tuesday, of the mathematics teacher Jaime Escalante. (Photo on right by Robert Gauthier.) He was an extraordinary teacher who passionately believed in the abilities of the many East Los Angeles students from disadvantaged and traditionally ignored backgrounds that he taught, enduring the ridicule of his colleagues to press on with the job of teaching them as well as he could, challenging them to reach impressive heights of mathematical ability, especially considering given the circumstances. Some people Continue reading ‘Inspiration and Dedication’
Aha. It’s one of those moments in mathematics press coverage that the journalists love, since all the stereotypes about how weird people working on abstract things can be are able to be brought out and highlighted, and words like genius, prodigy, recluse, eccentric, etc, get thrown about in equal measure.
Yes, Grigory Perelman has being turning down stuff again. You may recall him refusing the Fields Medal four years ago. Now he is refusing the Clay Mathematics Institute’s million dollar payout. Perelman proved the Poincaré conjecture a while back (see this older BBC article about that, along with a non-technical mention of the content of the conjecture – see also here, a related post the picture above right is from), which is on the Clay’s list of Big Problems whose collective heads have a bounty on them. He’s apparently a bit eccentric and the press love it, so most articles I’ve seen are mostly taken up with stuff like the following I saw in the Guardian:
Ack! I just noticed that it is Pi Day. Late in the day, so I’ve missed the key time of day for the whole shebang. Bah. Those of you in time zones further West of me still have time. Go for it. See my post from last year for more…
Terry Gross interviewed Scott Patterson and Ed Thorp on NPR’s Fresh Air. I heard it yesterday. It was very interesting to listen to Thorp in particular, a mathematician, describing his curiosity about how to construct a system for beating various gambling games, and going from there to the stock market, in effect becoming one of the earliest of the “quants”,
Thorp and the people who use such systems have come to be known as “quants” — it’s a reference to the quantitative-analysis techniques they employ — and their stories are told in Scott Patterson’s new book The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It.
You can hear the interview here, and read an extract from the book. Very interesting are the questions about what they think really went wrong in the market crash of Continue reading ‘Mathematics in Your Business’
The next Categorically Not! is this coming Sunday May 31st. The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events. (Image above right is from the excellent Categorically Not! – Really? event back in April 2006, described in an earlier post here. It was all about illusion, with examples from the world of optical illusions, and from literature.)
The theme this month is Awesome. Here’s the description from K C Cole:
Pi Minute is also sometimes celebrated on March 14 at 1:59 p.m. If [Pi] is truncated to seven decimal places, it becomes 3.1415926, making March 14 at 1:59:26 p.m., Pi Second (or sometimes March 14, 1592 at 6:53:58 a.m.).
The first Pi Day celebration was held at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988, with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, and then consuming fruit pies; the museum has since added pizza pies to its Pi Day menu. The founder of Pi Day was Larry Shaw, a now retired physicist at the Exploratorium who still helps out with the celebrations.
This year it is officially National Pi day too, according to the U.S. Congress!
Be sure to do some pi-ous things, ok? (Making pies, walking in circles at 1:59 pm (at Continue reading ‘Pi Day!’
I like David Bacon’s musings about the sorts of arithmetic being thrown around a lot in the turbulent financial news these days. He starts out:
I wonder how many people this week realized that “ten percent down” followed by “ten percent up” does not equal “no change.” [...]
Tonight’s Categorically Not! event was rather good fun, and interesting too. There were three excellent presentations under the theme “Ambiguity”. (See here.) K. C. Cole did a great job in bringing these people together (and of course in acting as M. C. on the night).
Bart Kosko did a great job talking principally about “fuzzy” mathematics, contrasting it with more binary (if you like) systems of logic. I think that his overview was great, and he talked about all the grey areas in logic and questions of epistemology where a “fuzzy” system is needed. (The question of whether a door is open or closed is on the Continue reading ‘Unambiguously Good’
The next Categorically Not! is on Sunday June 8th. The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events.
The theme this month is Ambiguity. Here’s the description from K C Cole:
Nature loves ambiguity, even if human nature doesn’t. What exactly is a species? Where exactly is that subatomic particle? When did life begin? How do genes influence behavior? Why does music move us? What does that poem mean? What color is white? Is that guy flirting with me, or not? The answers are often far more indeterminate than we’d like to think. Heck, we still don’t know why the chicken crossed the road. Or what the meaning of is is.
Bart Kosko, USC Professor of Engineering, attorney and author of best-selling books Fuzzy Thinking, Noise, and Heaven in a Chip will tell us how fuzzy math Continue reading ‘Categorically Not! – Ambiguity’
The next Categorically Not! is on Sunday March 9th (upcoming). The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events.
The theme this month is Puzzles! Here’s the description from K C Cole:
What isn’t a puzzle? The universe, life and everything are essentially puzzles that, to borrow from Einstein, “beckon like a liberation.” Designing buildings, choreographing dances, cooking meals and getting along with other people all involve solving puzzles (as, of course, does figuring out what’s right in front of your eyes—not to mention putting together a program such as Categorically Not!) A love of puzzles and the challenge of solving them is deeply embedded in human nature.
Gwen Roberts, Scott Kim, Gavin Scott.
Our March 9th Categorically Not! features puzzlemaster Scott Kim, who’s Continue reading ‘Categorically Not! – Puzzles!’
Not long ago David Morrison (UCSB) came to the mathematics department here at USC to give a colloquium.
This was a treat for me for many reasons. Here are three:
- It’s always good to see Dave. He’s one of the people I’ve known in the field was since my very first postdoc when I was learning to survive in the big bad world on my own after graduate school. I mostly could not understand a word he or anyone there else said in those days (IAS Princeton, right in the belly of the Continue reading ‘Beyond Einstein: Fixing Singularities in Spacetime’
Imagine my delight when I spotted this lovely piece of edible mathematics in the Hollywood Farmer’s Market this morning. The stall has several of them of many sizes (this was a very little one) and of several colours. Wonderful. If you don’t know what I mean when I talk about the mathematics, or use the term fractal, look it up. There are several things of note, among which are the wonderful spiral structures that you can Continue reading ‘A Delicious Fractal’
This short video is simply lovely. It illustrates (with perfectly chosen music) an important set of mathematical transformations dear to many of us, the MÃ¶bius transformations. It is by Douglas Arnold and Jonathan Rogness of the University of Minnesota. It’s a pleasure to watch, whether you work in a mathematically related field or not. Try it:
Also worth looking at (for a host of other reasons) are the comments on the video from Continue reading ‘MÃ¶bius Transformations’
Last night’s Categorically Not! – Inside Out event was just great. The three topics contrasted really nicely, were very well presented as individual topics in their own right, and there were resonances between the different topics through the main umbrella theme – “Inside Out”.
Science writers Sandy Blakeslee and her son Matt Blakeslee did a sort of tag team presentation, taking turns to build up several aspects of the subject (covered in their new book “The Body Has a Mind of Its Own”) of one’s sense of self and that all-so-important division between inside (ourself) and outside (the rest of the universe) that we make with our minds. It’s very dynamic, of course – you extend it a lot when you use tools, from a fork when eating to the car you’re driving in (everyone grunted in recognition when Sandy mentioned how you have the instinct to duck when driving under a low ceiling in a parking garage….). One of the things that I think resonated most with the audience is the description of the work on showing how many celebrated “out of body” experiences that people get have a foundation in Continue reading ‘Inside Out from the Inside’
Part of K C Cole’s teaser for tomorrow’s Categorically Not! – Inside Out said:
Sometimes the results are surprising: circles in the plane canâ€™t be turned inside out, but spheres in 3-dimensional space can be.
This is all the license I need to show you* this wonderful 21 minute video showing exactly that (and explaining some rather beautiful mathematics along the way):
Direct link to the Google Video (for larger viewing) here.
The next Categorically Not! is a Blue* one! It’s on Sunday October 28th (tomorrow). The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). Itâ€™s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if youâ€™re in the area.
Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events. (Above right: The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Paul Stein demonstrating “small differences” on the violin, in the event with that theme.)
The theme this month is Inside Out. Here’s the description from K C Cole:
[Post reconstruction in progress after 25.10.07 hack (comments and images to follow)]:
From the Nobel Prize site, the final one of the year:
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2007 jointly to Leonid Hurwicz (University of Minnesota, MN, USA), Eric S. Maskin (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, USA), and Roger B. Myerson (University of Chicago, IL, USA), for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory”.
No, I did not really know what mechanism design theory was either. Some of it sounds rather interesting, in fact. The website has a breakdown of the key contributions and ideas here. Once again, I found that NPR had a really nice radio chat about the prize. You can hear that here. In that audio file, you can learn the origin of this post’s title…. if you cannot already guess.
Well, it was a weekend of an unexpected character. Fantastic outside, but I did not see as much of it as I’d have liked. I was working on a script, you see. It needed to be worked on immediately and at the last minute because the work of turning it into the final product that will get seen started this weekend, and so I wanted to make as many comments and suggestions as I could before it was too late. It’s science – don’t worry. Also, it is rare to get to work on something that I know will get made (most things get shelved and never see the light of day), so that was sort of fun. I won’t tell you what it is (sorry) since I’m not actually a writer on the project, but I got the chance to look at the whole thing and make a lot of comments and suggestions, rephrasings, alternative lines, and so forth. All in a good cause. I think it will be out next year.
Yes, I know. “I was working on a script…” Sounds rather like I’ve finally caved in and succumbed to living in Los Angeles completely, working on a script like everyone else Continue reading ‘Not Following the Script’
Yesterday was (depending upon who’s counting) the 16th anniversary of that thing we call the World Wide Web becoming a public entity. The Web is not to be confused with the Internet, which is much older, of course1. I’m talking about Tim Berners-Lee’s idea and implementation thereof. (I should not neglect to mention that this was done at CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Europe.) His original posting (on the newsgroup alt.hypertext) proposing the structure can be viewed here, and here’s an extract:
The project started with the philosophy that much academic information should be freely available to anyone. It aims to allow information sharing within internationally dispersed teams, and the dissemination of information by support groups.
The WWW world consists of documents, and links. Indexes are special documents which, rather than being read, may be searched. The result of such a search is another (“virtual”) document containing links to the documents found. A simple protocol (“HTTP”) is used to allow a browser program to request a keyword search by a remote information server.
The web contains documents in many formats. Those documents which are hypertext, (real or virtual) contain links to other documents, or places within documents. All documents, whether real, virtual or indexes, look similar to the reader and are contained within the same addressing scheme.
To follow a link, a reader clicks with a mouse (or types in a number if he or she has no mouse). To search and index, a reader gives keywords (or other search criteria). These are the only operations necessary to access the entire world of data.
What am I going to do to celebrate?
Since everyday I celebrate the WWW by using it a lot, to commemorate the event I think I’m going to pay a visit to the (real, physical) library, then read a good old-fashioned book for a while, and then hand-write a letter. I used to write so many letters, long ago, and from time to time I try to stop everything and pick up a pen and write one. I got in the mood the other day while in Aspen, and went and found some letter-writing paper and envelopes, curled up on a sofa, and wrote for a Continue reading ‘Reading, Writing, and ’Rithmetic’
Danica McKellar (the actress who played Winnie in that show The Wonder Years that many of you might remember) has been working to try to encourage young girls to go more for “Cute and Smart”, as opposed to “Cute and Dumb”. Bottom line: Less Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton, and more…. well, Danica. (I’m sure there are other Tinseltown examples here… can I have some help?).
Danica sets an excellent example of why the two (being considered attractive on the one hand, and smart on the other) are not mutually exclusive, while not suffering from the “geek” or “nerd” label that is attached by the entertainment industry to certain groups of people who enjoy using their brains a lot. She trained as a mathematician, in fact, doing her undergraduate work at UCLA so well that she did rather good published research work (NPR piece here Update: It is actually more of a theoretical physics problem, it appears.). This is from someone who struggled with the subject in sixth grade. Why is she in the news? She’s written a new book “Math Doesn’t Suck”, the aim being to encourage girls to avoid the (social) barriers to getting into mathematics. Excellent title. (I wonder if they’ll change it to “Maths Doesn’t Suck” if they publish it in Britain? “Suck” British kids have adopted from the USA cultural juggernaut, but “Math”? Not yet.)
Actually, looking at her website, I see that the full title appears to be “Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail”, which is more of a mouthful, a bit less zippy, but oh well. It’s all very Clueless, in a good way. Here’s a link to the book’s site, and it is due out tomorrow.
There’s an article1 on her recent Newsweek quote at CNN, from which I grabbed this:
“When girls see the antics of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, they think that being fun and glamorous also means being dumb and irresponsible,” the 32-year-old McKellar told Newsweek for editions to hit newsstands Monday.
“But I want to show them that being smart is cool,” she said. “Being good at math is cool. And not only that, it can help them get what they want out of life.”
"The book hones in on middle schoolâ€™s trickiest points-â€“â€“like fractions, ratios, and percentagesâ€”and presents them in a style thatâ€™s appropriate for the cool kidsâ€™ lunch table. Figure out your â€œtypeâ€ in boys and youâ€™ll understand greatest common factors. All of those iced lattes celebrities drink make multiplying fractions tasty. Plus, savvy shopping requires killer decimal skills."
In other news, I learned2 that particle physicist Lisa Randall (author of the popular book with the curious title “Warped Passages”) appears in Vogue this month. Lisa Continue reading ‘Showing a Different Way’
To a first approximation, this will not be funny at all to any of you:
I giggled at it, I will confess. I can never get enough insertions of gerbes into a sentence. There’s just something about the total abstractness of the mathematical Continue reading ‘A Bundle of Laughs?’
Not long after I told you about the TASI school and the excellent online lecture resource they were rapidly building, I heard* about a school in Utah that might be of interest, especially if you’re interested in the fruitful interface between mathematics and string theory. The title: “Derived Categories”, and it ran for two weeks with lectures on mathematical aspects and stringy aspects. The main reason I’m telling you Continue reading ‘Mathematics and Strings’
No, not another flower from my garden. This is a two dimensional projection (originally hand drawn in the 1960s by Peter McMullen, of a polytope that lives in eight dimensions, known as the Gossett polytope 421. Click here to be taken over to the American Institute for Mathematics (AIM) site for more information about it. (This image was computer generated by John Stembridge, and you can get higher resolution there for use on your T-shirts and so forth.)
What does this all pertain to? A new result from a team of mathematicians. They’ve done what some are calling the mathematician’s equivalent of mapping the genome of a Lie group, the one called E8. Groups pertain to symmetries. Symmetries are Continue reading ‘E8′
On Wednesday night, accompanied by Tameem, a student of mine, I wandered across campus to attend the “Mathematics in Music” event. I blogged about it earlier. I don’t really want to talk about the event itself in this post. It was a nice enough recital of three pieces. I don’t know why, but the promised “mathematics” was disappointingly virtually non-existent. I’m not exaggerating, I’m afraid.
Keep in mind that it may simply just be my misunderstanding of the intent of the event, but there’s simply next to nothing to report in the way of what was said about mathematical aspects of music. There were plenty of opportunities, but (almost) none were taken. I got out my notebook and pen, all excited at what the presenters might say at various points… and the mathematics never showed up. There were a few extremely elementary remarks about tonal ratios in chords, about scales, keys, and time, and that was it, more or less. This was a bit of a shame, since I suspect that Elaine Chew could have talked at length and with some authority on the matter (given the projects she’s involved in – see e.g. here), but mathematics was almost completely missing in the event – despite the title. I imagine there were what seemed like good reasons for this. I was not party to decisions made behind the scenes, so cannot comment further.
More interestingly on that front was what took place in the minutes leading up to the delayed start of the event. First, although it was a free event, they pointed us to the box office where an attendant printed us two tickets from the computer so that we can show them to someone at the door who wasn’t really looking anyway. Fine. We got into the recital hall, but rather than sitting at the obvious available seats, I suggested that we move to the other side of the room where one can get a better view of the piano keyboard. I’m less than happy when I can’t see what a musician is doing, you see, so I always try to sit with the pianist’s view of the piano. So we did that, and found two seats. While we chatted and looked around us at the growing assembly, I spotted a friend and colleague of mine, the composer Veronika Krausas. She was in the company of someone who she introduced as Brian Head, who is a composer, performer (guitar) and music theorist (a “triple threat”, Veronika joked), also in USC’s Thornton school of music. They were looking for seats and there was one on either side of the two we were sitting in, and so they joined us and we chatted some more.
When the event start was about ten or fifteen minutes late -they were trying to get the reassuringly large crown all seated, they announced- Veronika idly looked at her ticket, pointed out that they were numbered, and wondered if we should have been Continue reading ‘Not Improbable’
On Wednesday there’ll be an evening event about Mathematics and Music here at USC. If you are nearby and can make it, consider going along. It’s free! It is part of the Visions and Voices programme I’ve talked about before. The presenter/performer will be Elaine Chew, whose research is at the intersection of engineering and music. Read more about the event here. You can find out more about Professor Chew from her website here.
I love crochet. I spent a huge number of hours doing it when I was young, and only in later years did I realize that the same things that attracted it to me then are the same things that drive and motivate a lot of my research interests. (I many have mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again).
It’s the love of patterns, plain and simple. If your child -of whetever gender- gets Continue reading ‘Hooking Up Manifolds’
This is a test of LaTeX on the site*.
The first equation I shall try is the following (for more on unpacking this equation and its meaning, see this post and links therein):
Yay! It works. I have implemented it in the comments too. So now we can have a new, sharper tool for our discussions and arguments.
Well, what else can it be? It is not April 1st, so my only explanation is that it is an Onion article that somehow was picked up by the BBC. What do you think? It reads exactly like one, right down to the picture of the pleasant bearded academic at the board, the well-scrubbed English schoolchildren, and the quotes from the children. The only thing missing is the page with the three heads (whose names and occupations change every week) making comments on the story. (Be sure to watch the video links of the demo too!)
This is the sort of science/mathematics reporting that I usually expect to read in the Continue reading ‘BBC Publishes Onion Article?’
I don’t know whether you caught this already, but if not, do consider listening to the 2nd November edition of BBC Radio 4′s “In Our Time”. It is about PoincarÃ©, his work, and the famous conjecture. From their website’s page on the programme:
The great French mathematician Henri PoincarÃ© declared: â€œThe scientist does not study mathematics because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing and life would not be worth living. And it is because simplicity, because grandeur, is beautiful that we preferably seek simple facts, sublime facts, and that we delight now to follow the majestic course of the stars.â€
PoincarÃ©â€™s ground-breaking work in the 19th and early 20th century has indeed led us to the stars and the consideration of the shape of the universe itself. He is known as the father of topology â€“ the study of the properties of shapes and how they can be deformed. His famous Conjecture in this field has been causing mathematicians sleepless nights ever since. He is also credited as the Father of Chaos Theory.
So how did this great polymath change the way we understand the world and indeed the universe? Why did his conjecture remain unproved for almost a century? And has it finally been cracked?
It is a particulalry good programme this time. This is a programme that focuses mostly on philosophy, and is often accused of being only rather superficial when it comes to covering the more hardcore and up-to-date science, but not this time. The guests are Continue reading ‘PoincarÃ© In Our Time’