This Mondrian math puzzle yields puzzling scores

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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? Read the rest

How a child math prodigy sees numbers as shapes

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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. Read the rest

Mind-blowing explainer on fixed points

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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. Read the rest

Sierra Leone is the roundest country

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Gonzalo Ciruelos set out to discover which country was the roundest in shape.

We can define roundness in many ways. For example, as you may know, the circle is the shape that given a fixed perimeter maximizes the area. This definition has many problems. One of the problems is that countries generally have chaotic perimeters (also known as borders), so they tend to be much longer than they seem to be.

For that reason, we have to define roundness some other way. We represent countries as a plane region, i.e., a compact set C⊂R2C⊂R2. I will define its roundness as

That's about where I tune out! Turns out the answer is Sierra Leone. Click through to see lots of mathy thingies on the screen, the runners-up, the least round countries, and the source code. Read the rest

The real story behind Indiana's celebrated attempt to legislate the value of Pi

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The geometry of fireworks

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

Pi fleece provides warmth, irrationality

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

Kickstarting another season of the outstanding Relatively Prime math podcast

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. Read the rest

Deep math of the folded pizza slice

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. Read the rest

Rational numbers are impossible!

Brilliant, high-speed math vlogger Vi Hart has revisited the topic of the sizes of infinities. Read the rest

Online Isaac Newton manuscripts workshop

India's Zetatrek citizen science initiative is online workshop starting on 19th July, where science and math hobbyists from all over the world are invited to study the original manuscripts of Sir Isaac Newton. Read the rest

Vi Hart on the relative sizes of 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 Read the rest

Mathematics as the basis for leftist reasoning

Chris Mooney of the Inquiring Minds podcast interviewed Jordan Ellenberg about his book How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, and in a fascinating accompanying post, Mooney investigates whether mathematics are "liberal." His argument is that liberal thought is characterized by "wishy washy" uncertainty and that math professors tend to vote left: Read the rest

Critical thinking vs education: Teaching kids math without "correct" answers

Brooke Powers assigned her middle-school math class a probability exercise with no single correct answer and was monumentally frustrated by her kids' inability to accept the idea of a problem without a canonical solution. After a long and productive wrangle with her kids about how critical thinking works and why divergent problem-solving is much more important than mechanically calculating an answer that you could just get out of a computer, she salvaged the exercise and made something genuinely wonderful out of it. Read the rest

Piketty's methods: parsing wealth inequality data and its critique

I've been writing about Thomas Piketty's magisterial economics bestseller Capital in the Twenty First Century for some time now (previously), and have been taking a close interest in criticisms of his work, especially the Financial Times's critique of his methods and his long, detailed response. I freely admit that I lack the stats and economics background to make sense of this highly technical part of the debate, but I think that Wonkblog's analysis looks sound, as does the More or Less play-by-play (MP3). Read the rest

XKCD: the TED talk

Here's Randall Munroe's TED talk about his What If? series, in which he answers big, weird questions about baseballs travelling at the speed of light and such, which is also the subject of a hotly anticipated forthcoming book. The talk is a mix of war-stories and insight into what makes Munroe (who is a fascinating dude) tick. Read the rest

Largest-ever damages sought

Anton Purisma has launched a civil rights suit against an airport Au Bon Pain restaurant; he's asking for $2,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That would be two undecillion dollars. Read the rest

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