Link: Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Proofiness’ : NPR

19 September 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Proofiness’ : NPR.

Clearly, I need to buy and read this book.  By analogy with Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” (the quality of stuff that feels true in the gut), Charles Seife coins “proofiness” to describe statements that feel like evidence, that feel decisive.  The author’s story about the museum tour guide (by far the best story I know involving the number 65,000,058) is a personal favorite, one that I tell often.  This is really a story about how the human mind intuitively deals with numbers and numerical information, and the intuitive weaknesses that exposes.

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Link: When Intuition And Math Probably Look Wrong – Science News

22 August 2010

When Intuition And Math Probably Look Wrong – Science News.

Great article on probability, math, intuition.  Wish I hadn’t read it just after my Probability classes ended.


Link: Alice In Wonderlands Secret Ingredient: Math

13 March 2010

It may not be common knowledge that Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, was “in real life” a mathematician.   (I like the story of how the queen, so taken was she with the Alice stories, wrote to Carroll expressing interest in any future writing he might do; she was rather nonplussed to receive a textbook on symbolic logic.)

Keith Devlin, NPR’s resident mathematician (wish I had that job…) talks a little about Lewis Carroll the mathematician, and the influence of mathematics on parts of the Alice story.

Alice In Wonderlands Secret Ingredient: Math : NPR.


Link: Margaret Wertheim on coral, crochet, and hyperbolic geometry

26 February 2010

Every once in a while I drop by TED.com to watch a TED talk (if you’ve never heard of TED talks, feel exhorted to check out the sight), and I usually pull up something on technology or world issues.  It finally dawned on me that typing “math” in the search box might be worth doing.  And was it ever.

The first math-related TED talk I saw is by Margaret Wertheim, speaking on the beautiful math of coral.  The combination of natural science, theoretical mathematics (specifically hyperbolic geometry), and the craft of crochet makes for something one-of-a-kind.


Link: Mathematical Poetry

12 February 2010

I recently stumbled across the Mathematical Poetry blog, which explores the interplay between mathematical concepts and artistic creation in a way not quite like anything I’ve ever seen.

An interesting place for readers of this blog to start might be these delineations.


Link: Math Mutation Podcast

7 February 2010

I recently discovered the Math Mutation podcast, which might be of interest to many of you.

According to the tagline, Math Mutation explores fun, interesting, or just plain weird corners of mathematics that you probably didn’t hear in school.

At the time of my writing this, there are 120 episodes, but don’t be intimidated.  Each is only a couple minutes long, lasting just long enough for the host to show you a little gem of mathematics or mathematical thinking.

In such a short format, a certain amount of oversimplification is inevitable, and much that is fascinating gets left unsaid.  But the amount he manages to say in such a short time is commendable, and it’s always enough to get you thinking.

Better, each episode comes with some useful links, so if something grabs your attention you’ll have some leads on where to get more information. Even if the links aren’t enough, the podcast reliably gives you enough information to successfully google for more.

So if you want to see the weirder side of math in a user-friendly setting aimed an extremely wide spectrum, and you like your ideas in bite-size portions, help yourself to a Mutation or two.


Rubik’s Hypercubes

10 January 2010

Tired of your mundane three-dimensional Rubik’s cube? Want a hands-on activity to help you make sense of the fourth dimension? Download Magic Cube 4D. The interface is really quite intuitive (and that’s saying something considering how un-intuitive the fourth dimension is).

Oh, and if you consider 4-dimensional Rubik’s Cubes too easy to be worth your time, perhaps you’d prefer Magic Cube 5D.