Sunday June 24th 2018

‘Math stories’ Archives

Researchers find history in the diagrams of Euclid’s Elements

Researchers find history in the diagrams of Euclid’s Elements

The fourth book of Euclid’s Elements, a 2,300-year-old geometry text, includes directions for constructing a 15-sided polygon inside a circle. The first step is familiar to geometry students: Draw an equilateral triangle and a regular pentagon so their vertices touch [Read More]

Creating sculpture with math

Creating sculpture with math

When he was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, teachers and parents told Helaman Ferguson he would have to choose between art and science. The two fields inhabited different realms, and doing one left no room for the other. “If you can do science and have a lick of sense, [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 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]

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Latest Topics

Quantum games aim to demystify heady science

Quantum games aim to demystify heady science

In a video game called Quantum Moves, the players’ goal is straightforward: Move an atom from one place to another as [Read More]

En route to Mars, astronauts may face big health risks

En route to Mars, astronauts may face big health risks

Frank Borman was probably the first person to barf in space.   Borman was part of NASA’s Apollo 8 mission, which [Read More]

Searching Blood for Cancer Clues

Searching Blood for Cancer Clues

ONCE A MONTH, 40-year-old Kristen Kilmer drives nearly 400 miles from her home in Spearfish, South Dakota, to the [Read More]

The long road to Mars

The long road to Mars

In most Hollywood movies, interplanetary travel seems fairly straightforward: hop on a spaceship, blast off, fly [Read More]

Targeting brain cancer

Targeting brain cancer

Seven years after her brain cancer diagnosis, Liz Salmi decided she wanted to know more about the makeup of the tumor [Read More]

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