Ever try to move a sofa down a hallway that has a corner? The underlying math behind it inspired a math problem that's been a puzzler since 1966. Gerver's Sofa above shows the parameters: a U-shaped sofa moving around a 90-degree corner in an even-width hallway. Gerver's got the record so far, and it is likely the optimal sofa. (more…)

]]>Ever try to move a sofa down a hallway that has a corner? The underlying math behind it inspired a math problem that's been a puzzler since 1966. Gerver's Sofa above shows the parameters: a U-shaped sofa moving around a 90-degree corner in an even-width hallway. Gerver's got the record so far, and it is likely the optimal sofa. (more…)

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Mathematician Gordon Hamilton presents a curious puzzle inspired by the art of Piet Mondrian: within a square canvas filled with rectangles that all have different dimensions, what's the lowest possible score when subtracting the smallest rectangle's area from the largest? (more…)

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Mathematician Gordon Hamilton presents a curious puzzle inspired by the art of Piet Mondrian: within a square canvas filled with rectangles that all have different dimensions, what's the lowest possible score when subtracting the smallest rectangle's area from the largest? (more…)

]]>In 1959 Disney released a 30-minute educational featurette called "Donald in Mathmagic Land." Everything about it is superb - the design, the animation, the music, the narration, and the presentation of the material. I remember watching this in school and realizing how interesting math could be.

From Wikipedia:

]]>Donald in Mathmagic Land is a 27-minute Donald Duck educational featurette released on June 26, 1959.It was directed by Hamilton Luske. Contributors included Disney artists John Hench and Art Riley, voice talent Paul Frees, and scientific expert Heinz Haber, who had worked on the Disney space shows. It was released on a bill with Darby O'Gill and the Little People. In 1959, it was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Documentary - Short Subjects). In 1961, two years after its release, it was shown as part of the first program of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color with an introduction by Ludwig Von Drake. The film was made available to schools and became one of the most popular educational films ever made by Disney. As Walt Disney explained, "The cartoon is a good medium to stimulate interest. We have recently explained mathematics in a film and in that way excited public interest in this very important subject."

In 1959 Disney released a 30-minute educational featurette called "Donald in Mathmagic Land." Everything about it is superb - the design, the animation, the music, the narration, and the presentation of the material. I remember watching this in school and realizing how interesting math could be.

From Wikipedia:

]]>Donald in Mathmagic Land is a 27-minute Donald Duck educational featurette released on June 26, 1959.It was directed by Hamilton Luske. Contributors included Disney artists John Hench and Art Riley, voice talent Paul Frees, and scientific expert Heinz Haber, who had worked on the Disney space shows. It was released on a bill with Darby O'Gill and the Little People. In 1959, it was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Documentary - Short Subjects). In 1961, two years after its release, it was shown as part of the first program of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color with an introduction by Ludwig Von Drake. The film was made available to schools and became one of the most popular educational films ever made by Disney. As Walt Disney explained, "The cartoon is a good medium to stimulate interest. We have recently explained mathematics in a film and in that way excited public interest in this very important subject."

In this Scientific American video, Rubik's Cube master Ian Scheffler, author of the new book Cracking the Cube, explains some of the math behind "speedcubing." Scheduler's book sounds fascinating even though the only way I could get my Rubik's Cube solved is to hand it to my 10-year-old son's friend Luc who was the first to dazzle me with the fine art of speedcubery.

From the description of Cracking the Cube:

When Hungarian professor Ernő Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube (or, rather, his Cube) in the 1970s out of wooden blocks, rubber bands, and paper clips, he didn’t even know if it could be solved, let alone that it would become the world’s most popular puzzle. Since its creation, the Cube has become many things to many people: one of the bestselling children’s toys of all time, a symbol of intellectual prowess, a frustrating puzzle with 43.2 quintillion possible permutations, and now a worldwide sporting phenomenon that is introducing the classic brainteaser to a new generation.

In Cracking the Cube, Ian Scheffler reveals that cubing isn’t just fun and games. Along with participating in speedcubing competitions—from the World Championship to local tournaments—and interviewing key figures from the Cube’s history, he journeys to Budapest to seek a meeting with the legendary and notoriously reclusive Rubik, who is still tinkering away with puzzles in his seventies.

Getting sucked into the competitive circuit himself, Scheffler becomes engrossed in solving Rubik’s Cube in under twenty seconds, the quasi-mystical barrier known as “sub-20,” which is to cubing what four minutes is to the mile: the difference between the best and everyone else.

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In this Scientific American video, Rubik's Cube master Ian Scheffler, author of the new book Cracking the Cube, explains some of the math behind "speedcubing." Scheduler's book sounds fascinating even though the only way I could get my Rubik's Cube solved is to hand it to my 10-year-old son's friend Luc who was the first to dazzle me with the fine art of speedcubery.

From the description of Cracking the Cube:

When Hungarian professor Ernő Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube (or, rather, his Cube) in the 1970s out of wooden blocks, rubber bands, and paper clips, he didn’t even know if it could be solved, let alone that it would become the world’s most popular puzzle. Since its creation, the Cube has become many things to many people: one of the bestselling children’s toys of all time, a symbol of intellectual prowess, a frustrating puzzle with 43.2 quintillion possible permutations, and now a worldwide sporting phenomenon that is introducing the classic brainteaser to a new generation.

In Cracking the Cube, Ian Scheffler reveals that cubing isn’t just fun and games. Along with participating in speedcubing competitions—from the World Championship to local tournaments—and interviewing key figures from the Cube’s history, he journeys to Budapest to seek a meeting with the legendary and notoriously reclusive Rubik, who is still tinkering away with puzzles in his seventies.

Getting sucked into the competitive circuit himself, Scheffler becomes engrossed in solving Rubik’s Cube in under twenty seconds, the quasi-mystical barrier known as “sub-20,” which is to cubing what four minutes is to the mile: the difference between the best and everyone else.

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When *60 Minutes* profiled child math whiz Jacob Barnett, he demonstrated how he imagined numbers as shapes. Numberphile's Simon Pampena analyzed Jacob's thought process. (more…)

When *60 Minutes* profiled child math whiz Jacob Barnett, he demonstrated how he imagined numbers as shapes. Numberphile's Simon Pampena analyzed Jacob's thought process. (more…)

Understanding advanced mathematics can change how you see the world, so prepare for an eye-opening journey into the world of fixed points, courtesy of Michael at Vsauce. (more…)

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Understanding advanced mathematics can change how you see the world, so prepare for an eye-opening journey into the world of fixed points, courtesy of Michael at Vsauce. (more…)

]]>Princeton University psych prof Susan Fiske published an open letter denouncing the practice of using social media to call out statistical errors in psychology research, describing the people who do this as "terrorists" and arguing that this was toxic because of the structure of social science scholarship, having an outsized effect on careers. (more…)

]]>Princeton University psych prof Susan Fiske published an open letter denouncing the practice of using social media to call out statistical errors in psychology research, describing the people who do this as "terrorists" and arguing that this was toxic because of the structure of social science scholarship, having an outsized effect on careers. (more…)

]]>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8xHq6dfAo

Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures recovers the lost history of the young African American women who did the heavy computational work of the Apollo missions, given the job title of "computer" -- her compelling book has been made into a new motion picture. (more…)

]]>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8xHq6dfAo

Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures recovers the lost history of the young African American women who did the heavy computational work of the Apollo missions, given the job title of "computer" -- her compelling book has been made into a new motion picture. (more…)

]]>An anonymous Quora commenter has written an exhaustive and fascinating response to the question, "What is it like to understand advanced mathematics?" (more…)

]]>An anonymous Quora commenter has written an exhaustive and fascinating response to the question, "What is it like to understand advanced mathematics?" (more…)

]]>On the BBC's More or Less podcast (previously), Tim Harford and his team carefully unpick the numerical claims made by both sides in the UK/EU referendum debate. (more…)

]]>On the BBC's More or Less podcast (previously), Tim Harford and his team carefully unpick the numerical claims made by both sides in the UK/EU referendum debate. (more…)

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Britain faces a major maths challenge. The challenge involves a **stock** of people and a **flow** of learners.
(more…)

Britain faces a major maths challenge. The challenge involves a **stock** of people and a **flow** of learners.
(more…)

Meet Danica McKellar who as an undergraduate in college co-published a paper titled "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on Z2," research that resulted in the Chayes–McKellar–Winn theorem. Oh yeah, before that, McKellar was Winnie on The Wonder Years.

(And just to confirm, Josh Saviano who played Paul Pfeiffer did not grow up to become Marilyn Manson.)

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Meet Danica McKellar who as an undergraduate in college co-published a paper titled "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on Z2," research that resulted in the Chayes–McKellar–Winn theorem. Oh yeah, before that, McKellar was Winnie on The Wonder Years.

(And just to confirm, Josh Saviano who played Paul Pfeiffer did not grow up to become Marilyn Manson.)

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Since its inception as a 2012 Kickstarter, the Reading With Pictures project has gone from strength to strength, culminating in a gorgeous, attractively produced hardcover graphic anthology of delightful comic stories that slot right into standard curriculum in science, math, social studies and language arts. (more…)

]]>Since its inception as a 2012 Kickstarter, the Reading With Pictures project has gone from strength to strength, culminating in a gorgeous, attractively produced hardcover graphic anthology of delightful comic stories that slot right into standard curriculum in science, math, social studies and language arts. (more…)

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Exotic polyhedron purveyor Dice Lab's crowning randomizer is its monstrous, $12 120-sided die. (more…)

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Exotic polyhedron purveyor Dice Lab's crowning randomizer is its monstrous, $12 120-sided die. (more…)

]]>Statistician Patrick Ball runs an NGO called the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, which uses extremely rigorous, well-documented statistical techniques to provide evidence of war crimes and genocides; HRDAG's work has been used in the official investigations of atrocities in Kosovo, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Syria and elsewhere. (more…)

]]>Statistician Patrick Ball runs an NGO called the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, which uses extremely rigorous, well-documented statistical techniques to provide evidence of war crimes and genocides; HRDAG's work has been used in the official investigations of atrocities in Kosovo, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Syria and elsewhere. (more…)

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I have vague memories of my older scientist brother Mark wearing a slide rule in a leather case on his belt. It was really one of the first wearable computers, albeit a mechanical, analog one. Then in 1974, he was able to purchase a Texas Instruments SR-50, the first mass-market commercial electronic calculator. The slide rule was buried in Mark's desk drawer, where the SR-50, and later his Sharp Wizard, Palm Pilot, and their descendants would ultimately end up as well. (Mark died wearing a calculator wristwatch!)

In this episode of Numberphile, Alex Bellos explains the seduction of the slide rule and also the Halden Calculex, a device he calls the "iPhone of Slide Rules."

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I have vague memories of my older scientist brother Mark wearing a slide rule in a leather case on his belt. It was really one of the first wearable computers, albeit a mechanical, analog one. Then in 1974, he was able to purchase a Texas Instruments SR-50, the first mass-market commercial electronic calculator. The slide rule was buried in Mark's desk drawer, where the SR-50, and later his Sharp Wizard, Palm Pilot, and their descendants would ultimately end up as well. (Mark died wearing a calculator wristwatch!)

In this episode of Numberphile, Alex Bellos explains the seduction of the slide rule and also the Halden Calculex, a device he calls the "iPhone of Slide Rules."

]]>

Pythagoras' Theorem, x^{2}+y^{2}=z^{2}, is true when x=3, y=4, and z=5. In fact, there are an infinite number of whole number solutions for Pythagoras' Theorem.

But there are no known solutions for x^{n}+y^{n}=z^{n}, when n equals any whole number other than 1 or 2. In 1637 mathematician Pierre de Fermat wrote in the margin of a book that he had devised a proof that there are no whole number solutions. The note was found 30 year later, and ever since then, no one has been able to prove it, though people have been trying for centuries.

This BBC documentary is about Oxford professor Andrew Wiles' lifelong obsession with Fermat's Last Theorem, which he read about when he was 10 years old. Wiles proved Fermat's Last Theorem in 1995. The proof is 150 pages long. If Fermat really did prove it, one can only guess how long his proof was.]]>

Pythagoras' Theorem, x^{2}+y^{2}=z^{2}, is true when x=3, y=4, and z=5. In fact, there are an infinite number of whole number solutions for Pythagoras' Theorem.

But there are no known solutions for x^{n}+y^{n}=z^{n}, when n equals any whole number other than 1 or 2. In 1637 mathematician Pierre de Fermat wrote in the margin of a book that he had devised a proof that there are no whole number solutions. The note was found 30 year later, and ever since then, no one has been able to prove it, though people have been trying for centuries.

This BBC documentary is about Oxford professor Andrew Wiles' lifelong obsession with Fermat's Last Theorem, which he read about when he was 10 years old. Wiles proved Fermat's Last Theorem in 1995. The proof is 150 pages long. If Fermat really did prove it, one can only guess how long his proof was.]]>

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 SolveX4U.com.

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]]>

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 SolveX4U.com.

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]]>

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. (more…)

]]>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. (more…)

]]>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. (more…)

]]>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. (more…)

]]>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." (more…)]]>

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." (more…)]]>

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. ]]>

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. ]]>

“Enjoy the parabolic envelopes that form while those bright, sparkling, parabolic curves are etched into the sky tonight.” —Visualizing Math.
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“Enjoy the parabolic envelopes that form while those bright, sparkling, parabolic curves are etched into the sky tonight.” —Visualizing Math.
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Rudy Rucker -- mathematician, cyberpunk, computer scientist, gonzo hoopy frood happy mutant -- has released an 828 page volume of his journals! (more…)

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Rudy Rucker -- mathematician, cyberpunk, computer scientist, gonzo hoopy frood happy mutant -- has released an 828 page volume of his journals! (more…)

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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…)

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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…)

]]>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…)]]>

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 Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality, summed up the Simulation Argument in the New York Times Sunday Review and asked whether we can test the hypothesis.

Is the Universe a Simulation? *(Thanks, Marina Gorbis!)*]]>

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 Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality, summed up the Simulation Argument in the New York Times Sunday Review and asked whether we can test the hypothesis.

Is the Universe a Simulation? *(Thanks, Marina Gorbis!)*]]>