...a companion blog to "Math-Frolic," specifically for interviews, book reviews, weekly-linkfests, and longer posts or commentary than usually found at the Math-Frolic site.

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"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show." ---Bertrand Russell (1907) Rob Gluck

"I have come to believe, though very reluctantly, that it [mathematics] consists of tautologies. I fear that, to a mind of sufficient intellectual power, the whole of mathematics would appear trivial, as trivial as the statement that a four-legged animal is an animal." ---Bertrand Russell (1957)

******************************************************************** Rob Gluck

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bountiful Potpourri + a Special Note


Another very mathy week gone by... some things that caught my attention, AND a special note below:

1)  This was different... from Futility Closet a post about math, poetry, the Fibonacci sequence, and Zeckendorf’s theorem:
http://www.futilitycloset.com/2015/01/11/math-and-poetry/

2)  Jason Rosenhouse offers up an "especially clever and elegant proof" of the Pythagorean Theorem":
http://tinyurl.com/pyjy4f5

3)  Last weekend, NPR's RadioLab re-ran their wonderful episode on "Numbers":
http://www.radiolab.org/story/91697-numbers/

...definitely worth a listen if you've never heard it, or worthy of a second listen if you have! (covers some cognitive psychology, Benford's Law, Erdös numbers, and Steven Strogatz's "Calculus of Friendship").

4)  Another piece this week on the frustrations surrounding Mochizuki's asserted proof of the ABC conjecture:
http://www.zmescience.com/science/math/mathematician-numbers-12012014/

5) 
As she often does, Joselle Kehoe connects up the neuroscience of mathematics, cognition, and abstraction in a post earlier in the week:
http://mathrising.com/?p=1230

6)  Presh Talwalkar goes over the "game theory" of airfare pricing (as highlighted by a recent airline lawsuit against a consumer website):
http://tinyurl.com/o3o5t89

7)  Alex Bellos reports on the newly-discovered "Harriss spiral," stemming from earlier golden-ratio work:
http://tinyurl.com/lnlxnsz
The latest "MathMunch" also looks at the Harriss spiral:
http://mathmunch.org/2015/01/15/harriss-spiral-math-snacks-and-set/

8)  The latest "Carnival of Mathematics" has been posted:
http://www.andrewt.net/blog/posts/carnival-of-mathematics-118

9)  Cathy O'Neil offered a link to her Prezi talk on data journalism at the recent JMM meeting in San Antonio:
http://tinyurl.com/pkrjptl

10) 
Another episode of "avoiding thinking in math class" from Ben Orlin:
http://mathwithbaddrawings.com/2015/01/14/mmm-strawberry-rhuburb-root-2/

11)  Manifolds, triangulation, and weird topology conjectures, from Quanta Magazine (interesting, if you can follow along the topology!):
https://www.quantamagazine.org/20150113-a-proof-that-some-spaces-cant-be-cut/

12) 
As many already know, the obituary of Alexander Grothendieck (by Mumford and Tate) that drew some controversy weeks ago, has now been published in Nature (and is freely accessible for another 10 days or so):
http://tinyurl.com/nx9l2xf

13)  More on designing the "flipped classroom" from Crystal Kirch:
http://flippingwithkirch.blogspot.com/2015/01/flipping-with-kirch-designing-flipped.html

14)  An old 'birds in a lorry' physics puzzle solved, supposedly:
http://tinyurl.com/pj3m2wv


and another fascinating physics-related piece (by Tom Siegfried) here, on "quantum math":
http://tinyurl.com/otfgkzc

15)  Per usual, check out MikesMathPage to see what Mike Lawler and the boys have been up to this week (I haven't had time to follow him much this week :-( :
http://mikesmathpage.wordpress.com/

16)  And earlier in the week I re-looked at an older Ian Stewart book that I now recommend to all math fans:
http://mathtango.blogspot.com/2015/01/letters-from-mathematician.html


Closing Note:  

Lastly, a bit unusual... but a shoutout or tip-of-the-hat to Ed Frenkel who this last week (in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings) conducted an amazing Twitter dialogue with at least 2 Islamic adherents who I believe were trying to account for what gives rise to such violence (I hope that's a fair-enough statement of what their goal was?).  I've never much believed that intelligent, meaningful discussion (let alone debate), can even take place on Twitter (without quickly degenerating), but I really respect Dr. Frenkel's patient, passionate, resolute attempt to do so. Despite some heated moments, both sides I think ultimately maintained decorum while expressing very different views, through dozens of tweets back-and-forth. Mathematicians are NOT all about equations and formulas only! 
You don't need to go back and read through the long Twitter threads, but I do recommend if you're not already following Dr. Frenkel (@EdFrenkel) you should be. He is interesting enough when talking mathematics... and even more interesting and remarkable when he's talking about other matters! We're lucky to have him here (dang, Ed, Keith Devlin, and Fawn Nguyen, all from other countries, and all now in California -- that state needs to share the wealth a little better!! ;-))
Some of the essence of what Dr. Frenkel tweeted is covered in this talk he gave a few months back regarding 'no easy answers' and 'life is not a paragraph' (no technical math here):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnqQ-BWMHrE


The last 15 minutes-or-so (it's a 38-min. talk) are among the 15 most evocative minutes you may ever encounter from a professional mathematician -- try to find time for this video if you've not already viewed it.


[And on Sunday morning, in light of Charlie Hebdo, in light of Ed Frenkel, in light of the MLK Holiday (U.S.) on Monday, and in light of so much going on in our world today, the Math-Frolic 'Sunday reflection' will stray a little from the usual fare.]



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