I hope the teacher didn't mark it wrong. *[via]*]]>

I hope the teacher didn't mark it wrong. *[via]*]]>

LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.

]]>LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.

]]>Twenty years ago, Texas Instruments released the TI-83 graphing calculator, a stupidly expensive piece of old technology that most high schools still require their juniors and seniors buy for around $100. Why? Because. That's why. From Mic.com:

Pearson textbooks feature illustrations of TI-series calculators alongside chapters so students can use their TI calculator in conjunction with the lesson plan. The calculators also have a significant learning curve, and moving students over to new technology is a risky proposition when success in the classroom is so tied to the technology being used.

TI calculators have been a constant, essential staple in the slow-moving public education sector. Students and teachers are so used to generations of students learning the familiar button combos and menu options that TI provides a computer program that perfectly resembles the button layout of the TI-83.

However, even if teachers wanted to be bold and bring in better technology, they would end up right back at square one because of that infamous force in American education: standardized testing.

College Board and other companies that administer the country's standardized tests have approved lists of calculators. TI-series devices are ubiquitous — mobile apps are nowhere to be found.

"I'm actually at the point now where when I do parent conferences, I tell the parents it's in their students' best interest to buy one, because the device will become necessary," Bob Lochel, a math teacher in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, told Mic. "But you feel dirty, because you're telling parents they need to buy a device, and I know I can teach without it."

"Remember Your Old Graphing Calculator? It Still Costs a Fortune — Here's Why" *(Mic.com)*

Twenty years ago, Texas Instruments released the TI-83 graphing calculator, a stupidly expensive piece of old technology that most high schools still require their juniors and seniors buy for around $100. Why? Because. That's why. From Mic.com:

Pearson textbooks feature illustrations of TI-series calculators alongside chapters so students can use their TI calculator in conjunction with the lesson plan. The calculators also have a significant learning curve, and moving students over to new technology is a risky proposition when success in the classroom is so tied to the technology being used.

TI calculators have been a constant, essential staple in the slow-moving public education sector. Students and teachers are so used to generations of students learning the familiar button combos and menu options that TI provides a computer program that perfectly resembles the button layout of the TI-83.

However, even if teachers wanted to be bold and bring in better technology, they would end up right back at square one because of that infamous force in American education: standardized testing.

College Board and other companies that administer the country's standardized tests have approved lists of calculators. TI-series devices are ubiquitous — mobile apps are nowhere to be found.

"I'm actually at the point now where when I do parent conferences, I tell the parents it's in their students' best interest to buy one, because the device will become necessary," Bob Lochel, a math teacher in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, told Mic. "But you feel dirty, because you're telling parents they need to buy a device, and I know I can teach without it."

"Remember Your Old Graphing Calculator? It Still Costs a Fortune — Here's Why" *(Mic.com)*

"Let's be bold -- let's join the rest of the world and go metric," said Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee when he announced his bid for the Oval Office. CNN interviews John Bemelmans Marciano, author of Whatever Happened to the Metric System?, about why the US is the only industrialized nation not to use the metric system in business, or most other fields. *(Above, U.S. Office of Education public service announcement from 1978.)* From CNN:

"People say the metric system makes sense," Marciano says, "But in nature we don't think about dividing things by 10, do we? We think of halves and feet and thirds."

Acres, for instance, were based on the amount of land a man could plow in a day.

"Throughout history we have measured things by ourselves," Marciano says. "We are really losing something with metric."

And another thing: People think the metric system has something to do with science. It doesn't, Marciano says, except that it is used in science and every scientist will probably put forth a convincing argument for why it's silly not to be metric.

"That's the biggest misconception," Marciano says. "The metric system has everything to do with capitalism. It's all about a selling system."

"Refusing to Give an Inch" *(CNN)*

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?: How America Kept Its Feet *(Amazon)*

]]>

"Let's be bold -- let's join the rest of the world and go metric," said Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee when he announced his bid for the Oval Office. CNN interviews John Bemelmans Marciano, author of Whatever Happened to the Metric System?, about why the US is the only industrialized nation not to use the metric system in business, or most other fields. *(Above, U.S. Office of Education public service announcement from 1978.)* From CNN:

"People say the metric system makes sense," Marciano says, "But in nature we don't think about dividing things by 10, do we? We think of halves and feet and thirds."

Acres, for instance, were based on the amount of land a man could plow in a day.

"Throughout history we have measured things by ourselves," Marciano says. "We are really losing something with metric."

And another thing: People think the metric system has something to do with science. It doesn't, Marciano says, except that it is used in science and every scientist will probably put forth a convincing argument for why it's silly not to be metric.

"That's the biggest misconception," Marciano says. "The metric system has everything to do with capitalism. It's all about a selling system."

"Refusing to Give an Inch" *(CNN)*

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?: How America Kept Its Feet *(Amazon)*

]]>

Are you too young to remember the television series, *The Wonderful World Of Disney*? It ran once a week and you never knew what you were going to get. It may have been a classic Disney film, a live action tour of the Disney parks or a set of animated shorts.

If you've never seen the show, you're probably also unfamiliar with *Donald In Mathmagic Land*.

Sure the art and storytelling was as beautiful as you'd expect from a Disney production, but this piece was different from the others. Somehow it educated as perfectly as it entertained.

The first time I saw it I took mental notes and patiently waited a long, long time for it to air again. Each week I would pray to the programming gods for my wish to come true and one day it did. This time, I was ready with paper and pencil so that I could take actual notes.

During the cartoon I learned about Pythagoras, the golden ratio and the history of music. But to me, the most important lesson was on the game of billiards. I grew up with a pool table and I played a lot more than any kid should. I read my parent's books on the game, I drained the local library of what they had on the subject but this cartoon taught me more about the table and angles than any book ever could.

I think it was because in the story, Donald Duck himself was learning and playing the game with me. Because it took so long between viewings, Donald and I were evolving together.

And here's the thing...I guarantee that if you are not already an advanced pool player, you will become better just by watching this masterpiece. For me, it turned on a giant light bulb over my head.

See Michael, a passionate collector of artifacts and designer of unique puzzles, at Boing Boing's three-day extravaganza, the Weekend of Wonder, running Sept. 18-20. A weekend of workshops, tech demons and wild performances, there'll be plenty of fun surprises!

I remember running downstairs with my notes to try out the new concepts I had just learned. The angles of the game were no longer a complete mystery after experiencing this magical cartoon. I also found that the new knowledge could be applied to other games that dealt with spheres and angles like racquetball, squash and wallyball. In fact, getting better at that game had an upward spiral effect on other aspects of my life. That game, during difficult times was my best friend.

Once you've seen this animated short you will think about billiards in a whole new way. You may even see shots and angles in your sleep...not that I do.

If you haven't experienced Donald In Mathmagic Land, you don't have to hope and pray for it to be the episode of the week. Just go to Youtube and watch it now.

And if you ever want to play a few games, just look me up.

I'll be the guy at the table with the talking duck.

]]>

Are you too young to remember the television series, *The Wonderful World Of Disney*? It ran once a week and you never knew what you were going to get. It may have been a classic Disney film, a live action tour of the Disney parks or a set of animated shorts.

If you've never seen the show, you're probably also unfamiliar with *Donald In Mathmagic Land*.

Sure the art and storytelling was as beautiful as you'd expect from a Disney production, but this piece was different from the others. Somehow it educated as perfectly as it entertained.

The first time I saw it I took mental notes and patiently waited a long, long time for it to air again. Each week I would pray to the programming gods for my wish to come true and one day it did. This time, I was ready with paper and pencil so that I could take actual notes.

During the cartoon I learned about Pythagoras, the golden ratio and the history of music. But to me, the most important lesson was on the game of billiards. I grew up with a pool table and I played a lot more than any kid should. I read my parent's books on the game, I drained the local library of what they had on the subject but this cartoon taught me more about the table and angles than any book ever could.

I think it was because in the story, Donald Duck himself was learning and playing the game with me. Because it took so long between viewings, Donald and I were evolving together.

And here's the thing...I guarantee that if you are not already an advanced pool player, you will become better just by watching this masterpiece. For me, it turned on a giant light bulb over my head.

See Michael, a passionate collector of artifacts and designer of unique puzzles, at Boing Boing's three-day extravaganza, the Weekend of Wonder, running Sept. 18-20. A weekend of workshops, tech demons and wild performances, there'll be plenty of fun surprises!

I remember running downstairs with my notes to try out the new concepts I had just learned. The angles of the game were no longer a complete mystery after experiencing this magical cartoon. I also found that the new knowledge could be applied to other games that dealt with spheres and angles like racquetball, squash and wallyball. In fact, getting better at that game had an upward spiral effect on other aspects of my life. That game, during difficult times was my best friend.

Once you've seen this animated short you will think about billiards in a whole new way. You may even see shots and angles in your sleep...not that I do.

If you haven't experienced Donald In Mathmagic Land, you don't have to hope and pray for it to be the episode of the week. Just go to Youtube and watch it now.

And if you ever want to play a few games, just look me up.

I'll be the guy at the table with the talking duck.

]]>

“Enjoy the parabolic envelopes that form while those bright, sparkling, parabolic curves are etched into the sky tonight.” —Visualizing Math.
]]>

“Enjoy the parabolic envelopes that form while those bright, sparkling, parabolic curves are etched into the sky tonight.” —Visualizing Math.
]]>

YouTuber Mathologer shares his technique for reassembling a Rubik's Cube inside a glass container. The secret? Magnets! (more…)]]>

YouTuber Mathologer shares his technique for reassembling a Rubik's Cube inside a glass container. The secret? Magnets! (more…)]]>

It's not just the students: despite my own background in mathematics (I teach linear and abstract algebra), I sometimes find myself uncertain about advising my students about their data analysis and also in conflict with some colleagues about what counts as being statistically valid. Typically, I turn to statistical textbooks and other colleagues for advice.

An article in the April 16, 2015 edition of *Scientific American* boldly claimed that research psychologists are wringing their hands over the inadequacy of the statistical tools they have been using. It seems that the use of *p* values as gold standard tests for significance has gone into disrepute as a consequence of over-reliance and inadequacy in determining the quality of the results. This is where Alex Reinhart comes in.

Reinhart is a physicist turned statistician who has set out to write a book whose aim is to improve the quality of statistical education and understanding that researchers need to have. Statistics Done Wrong is not a textbook. It is a highly informed discussion of the frequent inadequacy of published statistical results and confronts the sacred cow: the *p* value. Here is what he has to say on page 2.

Since the 1980s, researchers have described numerous statistical fallacies and misconceptions in the popular peer-reviewed scientific literature and have found that many scientific papers -- perhaps more than half -- fall prey to these errors. Inadequate statistical power renders many studies incapable of finding what they're looking for, multiple comparisons and misinterpreted

pvalues cause numerous false positives, flexible data analysis makes it easy to find a correlation where none exists, and inappropriate model choices bias important results. Most errors go undetected by peer reviewers and editors, who often have no specific statistical training, because few journals employ statisticians to review submissions and few papers give sufficient statistical detail to be accurately evaluated.

Astonishing to my eyes was his conclusion that

The methodological complexity of modern research means that scientists without extensive statistical training may not be able to understand most published research in their fields.

Reinhart advises users of statistics to replace point estimates (*p* values) with confidence intervals (estimates of uncertainty). He discusses statistical power, (a way of determining the degree of confidence associated with statistical tests using the null hypothesis). He discusses and illustrates with clear and uncomplicated examples such things as the effects of sample size and reasonable estimates of bias (suggestive of the Bayesian approach).
(more…)

It's not just the students: despite my own background in mathematics (I teach linear and abstract algebra), I sometimes find myself uncertain about advising my students about their data analysis and also in conflict with some colleagues about what counts as being statistically valid. Typically, I turn to statistical textbooks and other colleagues for advice.

An article in the April 16, 2015 edition of *Scientific American* boldly claimed that research psychologists are wringing their hands over the inadequacy of the statistical tools they have been using. It seems that the use of *p* values as gold standard tests for significance has gone into disrepute as a consequence of over-reliance and inadequacy in determining the quality of the results. This is where Alex Reinhart comes in.

Reinhart is a physicist turned statistician who has set out to write a book whose aim is to improve the quality of statistical education and understanding that researchers need to have. Statistics Done Wrong is not a textbook. It is a highly informed discussion of the frequent inadequacy of published statistical results and confronts the sacred cow: the *p* value. Here is what he has to say on page 2.

Since the 1980s, researchers have described numerous statistical fallacies and misconceptions in the popular peer-reviewed scientific literature and have found that many scientific papers -- perhaps more than half -- fall prey to these errors. Inadequate statistical power renders many studies incapable of finding what they're looking for, multiple comparisons and misinterpreted

pvalues cause numerous false positives, flexible data analysis makes it easy to find a correlation where none exists, and inappropriate model choices bias important results. Most errors go undetected by peer reviewers and editors, who often have no specific statistical training, because few journals employ statisticians to review submissions and few papers give sufficient statistical detail to be accurately evaluated.

Astonishing to my eyes was his conclusion that

The methodological complexity of modern research means that scientists without extensive statistical training may not be able to understand most published research in their fields.

Reinhart advises users of statistics to replace point estimates (*p* values) with confidence intervals (estimates of uncertainty). He discusses statistical power, (a way of determining the degree of confidence associated with statistical tests using the null hypothesis). He discusses and illustrates with clear and uncomplicated examples such things as the effects of sample size and reasonable estimates of bias (suggestive of the Bayesian approach).
(more…)

If you like math, puzzles or winter sports, you need to play *Sinerider*, a sledding game where you transform the slope with math equations.

If you like math, puzzles or winter sports, you need to play *Sinerider*, a sledding game where you transform the slope with math equations.

Stanford design prof John Edmark, as part of his artistic residency at Autodesk, created these 3D printed "blooming" Fibonacci-sequence zoetropes, which seem to grow, writhe, and pulse as they're spun before a camera shooting every 1/4000 of a second.
(more…)]]>

Stanford design prof John Edmark, as part of his artistic residency at Autodesk, created these 3D printed "blooming" Fibonacci-sequence zoetropes, which seem to grow, writhe, and pulse as they're spun before a camera shooting every 1/4000 of a second.
(more…)]]>

But not us. We’re going to grab that thread. We’re going to go to infinity and, indeed, beyond. (more…)

]]>But not us. We’re going to grab that thread. We’re going to go to infinity and, indeed, beyond. (more…)

]]>Readers of my popular mathematics books already know how I feel about numbers and mathematics. Both are portals to other universes and new ways of thinking. In some sense, numbers help us glimpse a realm partly shielded from our minds and brains that have not evolved to fully comprehend the mathematical fabric. This tapestry stretches, in practical and theoretical areas, like a vast spider web with an infinity of connections and patterns. Higher mathematical discussions are a little like poetry. Danish physicist Niels Bohr felt similarly about physics when he said, “We must be clear that, when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry.”

This leads me to my most recent book, The Mathematics Devotional. Every page of this yearlong devotional features a quotation about math, alongside a beautiful artwork relating to mathematics. The quotes range from Pythagoras to Feynman to Churchill. At the end of the book is a brief biographical dictionary that provides additional curiosities. Readers of Boing Boing may enjoy seeing a sampling of images from the book, which are reproduced here. As evident in many of the quotations selected for this book, mathematicians, throughout history, have often approached mathematics with a sense of awe, reverence, and mystery. I hope that both the quotes and artwork that I have collected from a range or artists will inspire readers to learn more about the universe of mathematics and the delights that mathematicians, artists, and computer programmers feel in exploring mathematics.

Going beyond inspiration, the *usefulness* of mathematics allows us to build spaceships and investigate the geometry of our universe. Numbers may be our first means of communication with intelligent alien races. Today, mathematics has permeated every field of scientific endeavor and plays an invaluable role in biology, physics, chemistry, economics, sociology, and engineering. Math can be used to help explain the structure of a rainbow, teach us how to make money in the stock market, guide a spacecraft, make weather forecasts, predict population growth, design buildings, quantify happiness, and analyze the spread of diseases.

Mathematics has caused a revolution. It has shaped our thoughts. It has shaped the way we think. Mathematics has changed the *way* we look at the world.

*Images: Shutterstock*
(more…)

Readers of my popular mathematics books already know how I feel about numbers and mathematics. Both are portals to other universes and new ways of thinking. In some sense, numbers help us glimpse a realm partly shielded from our minds and brains that have not evolved to fully comprehend the mathematical fabric. This tapestry stretches, in practical and theoretical areas, like a vast spider web with an infinity of connections and patterns. Higher mathematical discussions are a little like poetry. Danish physicist Niels Bohr felt similarly about physics when he said, “We must be clear that, when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry.”

This leads me to my most recent book, The Mathematics Devotional. Every page of this yearlong devotional features a quotation about math, alongside a beautiful artwork relating to mathematics. The quotes range from Pythagoras to Feynman to Churchill. At the end of the book is a brief biographical dictionary that provides additional curiosities. Readers of Boing Boing may enjoy seeing a sampling of images from the book, which are reproduced here. As evident in many of the quotations selected for this book, mathematicians, throughout history, have often approached mathematics with a sense of awe, reverence, and mystery. I hope that both the quotes and artwork that I have collected from a range or artists will inspire readers to learn more about the universe of mathematics and the delights that mathematicians, artists, and computer programmers feel in exploring mathematics.

Going beyond inspiration, the *usefulness* of mathematics allows us to build spaceships and investigate the geometry of our universe. Numbers may be our first means of communication with intelligent alien races. Today, mathematics has permeated every field of scientific endeavor and plays an invaluable role in biology, physics, chemistry, economics, sociology, and engineering. Math can be used to help explain the structure of a rainbow, teach us how to make money in the stock market, guide a spacecraft, make weather forecasts, predict population growth, design buildings, quantify happiness, and analyze the spread of diseases.

Mathematics has caused a revolution. It has shaped our thoughts. It has shaped the way we think. Mathematics has changed the *way* we look at the world.

*Images: Shutterstock*
(more…)

Vi Hart and Nicky Case created a brilliant "playable post" that challenges you to arrange two groups of polygons to make them "happy" by ensuring that no more than 2/3 of their neighbors are different. (more…)]]>

Vi Hart and Nicky Case created a brilliant "playable post" that challenges you to arrange two groups of polygons to make them "happy" by ensuring that no more than 2/3 of their neighbors are different. (more…)]]>

Mathematician and origami expert Tom Hull created this pleated multi-sliced cone from paper, never before accomplished since Robert Lang designed it via computer. (more…)

]]>

Mathematician and origami expert Tom Hull created this pleated multi-sliced cone from paper, never before accomplished since Robert Lang designed it via computer. (more…)

]]>Thinkgeek's Pi Fleece keeps you warm and irrational with the first 413 digits of Pi in machine-washable fleece, measuring 45"x64". ]]>

Thinkgeek's Pi Fleece keeps you warm and irrational with the first 413 digits of Pi in machine-washable fleece, measuring 45"x64". ]]>

Samuel Hansen's fantastic math podcast is everything a technical program should be deep but accessible, thoughtful but funny, and free for all; the new season is on Kickstarter for a few more hours! I put in $35. (more…)

]]>

Samuel Hansen's fantastic math podcast is everything a technical program should be deep but accessible, thoughtful but funny, and free for all; the new season is on Kickstarter for a few more hours! I put in $35. (more…)

]]>The astonishingly prolific author/scientist Clifford Pickover (see the review of his Book of Black for a list of some of his other books) is a math enthusiast with a talent for ferreting out fascinating anecdotes about math, and writing them in a way that inspires wonder. (more…)

]]>The astonishingly prolific author/scientist Clifford Pickover (see the review of his Book of Black for a list of some of his other books) is a math enthusiast with a talent for ferreting out fascinating anecdotes about math, and writing them in a way that inspires wonder. (more…)

]]>Why does a flat pizza slice flop over unless you bend it into a curve? Thank Gaussian curvature, the 19th century mathematical principle that underpins everything from corrugated cardboard to eggshells to Pringles chips. (more…)

]]>Why does a flat pizza slice flop over unless you bend it into a curve? Thank Gaussian curvature, the 19th century mathematical principle that underpins everything from corrugated cardboard to eggshells to Pringles chips. (more…)

]]>Deviantart's Taffgoch creates beautiful models of spheres made from kinetic elements, primarily gears. (more…)]]>

Deviantart's Taffgoch creates beautiful models of spheres made from kinetic elements, primarily gears. (more…)]]>

Seb writes, "Citizen Maths is a new CC-BY licensed open online maths course produced in the UK for adults and college students who want to improve their grasp of maths at what in the UK is known as Level 2 (the level that 16 year old school leavers are expected to reach, though many do not)." (more…)]]>

Seb writes, "Citizen Maths is a new CC-BY licensed open online maths course produced in the UK for adults and college students who want to improve their grasp of maths at what in the UK is known as Level 2 (the level that 16 year old school leavers are expected to reach, though many do not)." (more…)]]>

Pancake pioneer Saipancakes has combined a spirograph with a pancake-batter dispenser -- the Pangraph -- and it makes gorgeous fairy-pancakes with many nested symmetries.
]]>

Pancake pioneer Saipancakes has combined a spirograph with a pancake-batter dispenser -- the Pangraph -- and it makes gorgeous fairy-pancakes with many nested symmetries.
]]>

You will need a knife, a non-toxic marker, and some math.

]]>You will need a knife, a non-toxic marker, and some math.

]]>

Brilliant, high-speed math vlogger Vi Hart has revisited the topic of the sizes of infinities. (more…)

]]>

Brilliant, high-speed math vlogger Vi Hart has revisited the topic of the sizes of infinities. (more…)

]]>I enjoyed learning about statistics, probability, zero, infinity, number sequences, and more in this heavily illustrated kids’ book called How to Be a Math Genius, by Mike Goldsmith. But would my 11-year daughter like it as much? I handed it to her after school and she become absorbed in it until called for dinner. She took it to the dinner table and read it while we ate. The next day, she asked for the book so she could finish it. Loaded with fun exercises (like cutting a hole through a sheet of paper so you can walk through it), *How to Be a Math Genius* will show kids (and adults) that math is often complicated, but doesn’t need to be boring. (This book is part of DK Children’s How to Be a Genius series. See my review of How to Be a Genius.)

See sample interior pages at Wink.]]>

I enjoyed learning about statistics, probability, zero, infinity, number sequences, and more in this heavily illustrated kids’ book called How to Be a Math Genius, by Mike Goldsmith. But would my 11-year daughter like it as much? I handed it to her after school and she become absorbed in it until called for dinner. She took it to the dinner table and read it while we ate. The next day, she asked for the book so she could finish it. Loaded with fun exercises (like cutting a hole through a sheet of paper so you can walk through it), *How to Be a Math Genius* will show kids (and adults) that math is often complicated, but doesn’t need to be boring. (This book is part of DK Children’s How to Be a Genius series. See my review of How to Be a Genius.)

See sample interior pages at Wink.]]>

Just in time for you to get the most out of "The Fault in Our Stars," the incomparable, fast-talking mathblogger Vi Hart's latest video is a sparkling-clear explanation of one of my favorite math-ideas: the relative size of different infinities. If that's not enough for you, have a listen to this episode of the Math for Primates podcast.

Proof some infinities are bigger than other infinities
]]>

Just in time for you to get the most out of "The Fault in Our Stars," the incomparable, fast-talking mathblogger Vi Hart's latest video is a sparkling-clear explanation of one of my favorite math-ideas: the relative size of different infinities. If that's not enough for you, have a listen to this episode of the Math for Primates podcast.

Proof some infinities are bigger than other infinities
]]>

Cellular automata are curious and fascinating computer models programmed with simple rules that generate complex patterns that cause us to consider whether the universe is a computer and life an algorithm. Over at Science News, Tom Siegfried has the first of a two-part series on cellular automata:

Traditionally, the math used for computing physical laws, like Newton’s laws of motion, use calculus, designed for tasks like quantifying change by infinitesimal amounts over infinitesimal increments of time. Modern computers can help do the calculating, but they don’t work the way nature supposedly does. Today’s computers are digital. They process bits and bytes, discrete units of information, not the continuous variables typically involved in calculus."If the world is a computer, life is an algorithm"]]>From time to time in recent decades, scientists have explored the notion that the universe is also digital. Nobel laureate Gerard ’t Hooft, for instance, thinks that some sort of information processing on a submicroscopic level is responsible for the quantum features that describe detectable reality. He calls this version of quantum physics the cellular automaton interpretation.

Cellular automata are curious and fascinating computer models programmed with simple rules that generate complex patterns that cause us to consider whether the universe is a computer and life an algorithm. Over at Science News, Tom Siegfried has the first of a two-part series on cellular automata:

Traditionally, the math used for computing physical laws, like Newton’s laws of motion, use calculus, designed for tasks like quantifying change by infinitesimal amounts over infinitesimal increments of time. Modern computers can help do the calculating, but they don’t work the way nature supposedly does. Today’s computers are digital. They process bits and bytes, discrete units of information, not the continuous variables typically involved in calculus."If the world is a computer, life is an algorithm"]]>From time to time in recent decades, scientists have explored the notion that the universe is also digital. Nobel laureate Gerard ’t Hooft, for instance, thinks that some sort of information processing on a submicroscopic level is responsible for the quantum features that describe detectable reality. He calls this version of quantum physics the cellular automaton interpretation.