Saturday March 25th 2017

‘Math stories’ Archives

Solving a math problem to create art

Solving a math problem to create art

Optimization is the mathematical quest for the best way to do something, from finding the shortest distance between two places to figuring out the best way to pack a suitcase. It often involves calculating the highest or lowest value of something. The applications are [Read More]

Zombie physics

Zombie physics

For Alex Alemi and Matt Bierbaum, physics graduate students at Cornell University in the US, there really was no escaping the zombies – those fictional reanimated human corpses that feast on the living. In autumn 2011 they were required to complete a project for a class [Read More]

The Whole Universe Catalog

The Whole Universe Catalog

A seemingly endless variety of food was sprawled over several tables at the home of Judith L. Baxter and her husband, mathematician Stephen D. Smith, in Oak Park, Ill., on a cool Friday evening in September 2011. Canapés, homemade meatballs, cheese plates and grilled [Read More]

Charting the history of western art with math

Charting the history of western art with math

  For more than a century, researchers have used statistics to study writing style in a sort of literary forensics technique called stylometry. In 1901, physicist T. C. Mendenhall famously measured word-length frequency in William Shakespeare’s works and reported [Read More]

Can an Equation be a Poem?

Can an Equation be a Poem?

April is Mathematics Awareness Month. April is alsoNational Poetry Month. Coincidence? Yep, almost definitely. But it’s also an opportunity: I’d like to propose that we—you and I, at least until the end of this blog post—merge the two and celebrate the first-ever [Read More]

Two Guys Dancing about Math

Two Guys Dancing about Math

  A typical performance by dancers Karl Schaffer and Erik Stern begins with a handshake. However, it’s not simple: the two men fail to connect, missing hands and falling past each other, over and over, in a variety of ways. When they do finally grasp hands, they have [Read More]

Foraging flights

Foraging flights

First, he tracked basking sharks—filterfeeding leviathans that look like supersized great whites—in the coastal waters near Great Britain, and then Atlantic cod, leatherback turtles, Magellanic penguins, and bigeye tuna. He’s wrangled and tagged ocean sunfish, blue [Read More]

Descartes’ Decipherer

Descartes’ Decipherer

Erik-Jan Bos, a philosopher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, unearthed research gold with an Internet search. In putting together a critical edition of René Descartes’ correspondence, due out in 2014, he discovered a stolen, never-before-published letter from [Read More]

Prize awarded for largest mathematical proof

Prize awarded for largest mathematical proof

  The largest proof in mathematics is colossal in every dimension – from the 100-plus people needed to crack it to its 15,000 pages of calculations. Now the man who helped complete a key missing piece of the proof has won a prize. In early November, Michael [Read More]

Turning math into money

Turning math into money

Mathematician Richard Hamilton was named a co-winner of the 2011 Shaw Prize for Mathematical Sciences. The honor comes with a $500K check. Hamilton is best known as the architect of the Ricci flow, a mathematical process that formed the foundation of Grisha Perelman’s [Read More]

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Latest Topics

How nonequilibrium thermodynamics speaks to the mystery of life

How nonequilibrium thermodynamics speaks to the mystery of life

In his 1944 book What is Life?, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger argued that organisms stay alive precisely by [Read More]

Solving a math problem to create art

Solving a math problem to create art

Optimization is the mathematical quest for the best way to do something, from finding the shortest distance between two [Read More]

The Internet of Things wants to link all facets of our world

The Internet of Things wants to link all facets of our world

A 94Fifty looks like an ordinary basketball. You can inflate, dribble, pass, shoot, swoosh and slam-dunk it. But [Read More]

When your stuff spies on you

When your stuff spies on you

In October 2016, hackers hit a company called Dyn. Hackers are people who write computer programs that can break into [Read More]

The return of supersolids!

The return of supersolids!

We learn it from a young age: solids hold their shapes; liquids flow. Physical states of matter are mutually exclusive. [Read More]

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