Math tutoring service in the form of a phone sex hotline


Mark says:

What would happen if you mixed a math education tutoring site with a late night 900 number?

Well, someone did, and it might end up being one of the strangest new startups out of Cambridge. It's called

While this might look like a silly idea it's been gaining a lot of traction in the past week and the tech behind it is actually pretty advanced and useful for students who are looking for help with math, statistics and other subjects.

Anyone can submit any math problem and they will get help solving it (the first one is free too).

A New Tutoring Startup Is Branding Itself as an Adult Hotline Read the rest

How a mathematician teaches "Little Brother" to a first-year seminar


Derek Bruff teaches a first-year college writing seminar in mathematics, an unusual kind of course that covers a lot of ground, and uses a novel as some of its instructional material -- specifically, my novel Little Brother. Read the rest

How to teach gerrymandering and its many subtle, hard problems


Ben Kraft teaches a unit on gerrymandering -- rigging electoral districts to ensure that one party always wins -- to high school kids in his open MIT Educational Studies Program course. As he describes the problem and his teaching methodology, I learned that district-boundaries have a lot more subtlety and complexity than I'd imagined at first, and that there are some really chewy math and computer science problems lurking in there. Read the rest

Paul Erdős's FBI file

Michael from Muckrock sez, "A Hungarian born in the early 20th century, Paul Erdős, mathematician, was well-known and well-liked, the sort of eccentric scientist from the Soviet sphere that made Feds' ears perk up in mid-century America." Read the rest

Kickstarting custom cellular automata scarves

Noah writes, "Fabienne Serriere, a hacker and machine knitting enthusiast, is running a Kickstarter currently for provably unique mathematical scarves modeled off of cellular automaton and made of Merino wool.

Read the rest

The geometry of fireworks

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

Rudy Rucker's massive volume of journals now out!

Rudy Rucker -- mathematician, cyberpunk, computer scientist, gonzo hoopy frood happy mutant -- has released an 828 page volume of his journals! Read the rest

WATCH: Origami expert creates "impossible" computer-generated shape


Mathematician and origami expert Tom Hull created this pleated multi-sliced cone from paper, never before accomplished since Robert Lang designed it via computer. Read the rest

63 is a special number

-7/4 is also special. Dr Holly Krieger, a Postdoctoral Fellow from MIT explains dynamical sequences, prime divisors, and special exceptions. I also enjoyed her video about the Mandelbrot Set. (Via Pickover) Read the rest

Citizen Maths: open, free math education for adults

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)." Read the rest

Mathematician Edward Frenkel on whether the universe is a simulation

Regular BB readers know one of my favorite head trips is the idea that we're living in a simulation or control system of some kind. Decades before The Matrix, folks like Jacques Vallee, John Keel, Stephen Wolfram, Rudy Rucker, Hans Moravec, and Ed Fredkin explored this notion. And of course it's also been the subject of countless science fiction novels. In recent years, Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom developed a mathematical argument to support the mind-bending theory. A week ago, UC Berkeley mathematician Edward Frankel, author of Read the rest

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

The Simpsons is arguably the most successful television show in history. Inevitably, its global appeal and enduring popularity have prompted academics (who tend to overanalyze everything) to identify the subtext of the series and to ask some profound questions. What are the hidden meanings of Homer's utterances about doughnuts and Duff beer? Do the spats between Bart and Lisa symbolize something beyond mere sibling bickering? Are the writers of The Simpsons using the residents of Springfield to explore political or social controversies?

One group of intellectuals authored a text arguing that The Simpsons essentially provides viewers with a weekly philosophy lecture. The Simpsons and Philosophy, edited by William Irwin, Mark T. Conard, and Aeon J. Skoble, claims to identify clear links between variousepisodes and the issues raised by history's great thinkers, includingAristotle, Sartre, and Kant. Chapters include "Marge's Moral Motivation," "The Moral World of the Simpson Family: A Kantian Perspective,"and "Thus Spake Bart: On Nietzsche and the Virtues of BeingBad." Read the rest

Video: How to make chocolate out of nothing

In this video, Mariano Tomatis shows how to create chocolate out of nothing. Here is his explanation of this wonderful phenomenon, known as a missing square or vanishing area puzzle. (Thanks, Ferdinando Buscema!) Read the rest

Pi as music

[π] is a lovely and simple page that "explores the musical rhythm within 100,000 digits of π, an irrational number. #1 = Day | #0 = Night | #2–9 = La Musica." [π] ( Read the rest

Engraving a Klein bottle with an Eggbot

The Evil Mad Scientists were presented with a challenge: inscribe one of Cliff Stoll's hand-blown Klein bottles, an object of surpassing beauty and odd topology. They modified an Eggbot plotter to etch the surface of a Klein bottle with a diamond engraver attachment. Read the rest

Cartoon Introduction to Statistics: perfect way to get excited about stats

The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics is a new book by Grady Klein and Alan Dabney that is a top-notch introductory grounding in statistical concepts told through a series of witty, funny cartoons that relate stats to everything from fish populations to alien opinion surveys. This is a very introductory text, and it assumes that you know nothing about stats -- not even why you'd want to know more about the subject. The book tackles both the task of providing a grounding in statistical concepts (mean/median, standard deviation, null hypothesis, random sampling, confidence intervals, etc) and explaining in clear and exciting ways why you'd care about any of this stuff.

The authors do a great job of conveying the source material in clear, stepwise fashion, and made the wise decision to put the equations at the back of the book in an appendix called "The Math Cave." They don't delve deeply into any intermediate subjects like assessing correlation (for this, I highly recommend 1993's The Cartoon Guide to Statistics by Larry Gonick and Woollcott Smith, about which I can't say enough great and enthusiastic things), but that's probably a wise tactical decision. Confining the material to basics makes the whole work into an unqualified success.

The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics Read the rest

Goldberg polyhedra field guide [Video]

This guy sure knows how to have fun with Goldberg polyhedra! Read the rest

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