Partitions, Riddles, and Escher Videos

Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!

Meet James Tanton, one of my very favorite mathematicians. According to his bio, James is “deeply interested in bridging the gap between the mathematics experienced by school students and the creative mathematics practiced and explored by mathematicians.” Me too! Dr. Tanton is an author and math teacher, but I know him best through his internet videos. Some of them cover some pretty advanced mathematics, but this video on partitions and the Fibonacci numbers is very clear and WAY COOL!

o o oo ooo ooooo

Up next, check out Steve Miller’s Math Riddles, a website full of fantastic (you guessed it) math riddles collected by Steve Miller. Steve’s a math professor at Williams College, and according to him, these riddles, “have two very desirable properties: they have an elegant solution, and that solution doesn’t involve advanced mathematics… What you do need is some patience, and a willingness to explore. Don’t be afraid to try something — see where it leads!”

With that in mind, why not give some a try? You can sort the riddles by topic or difficulty, but here a few possible starters:

There are fifteen sticks. Remove six sticks and be left with ten.

Finally, some relaxing videos I’ve found to showcase once again the fantastic artwork of Dutch graphic artist, M.C. Escher. We’ve featured his work before, but I can never get enough.

3 Spheres II by M.C. Escher

“Mathematicians know their subject is beautiful. Escher shows us that it’s beautiful.” That’s a lovely little quote from mathematician Ian Stewart in this short little clip called, The Mathematical Art of M.C. Escher. If you’re up for something more substantial, here’s an hour-long documentary called Metamorphose, which features video of Escher himself hard at work, something I had never seen before! If you end up watching, leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

We’ve also put together a YouTube playlist of every video ever featured on Math Munch, which we will continue to update. If you want to find the coolest math vids on the internet, I’d say that’s a good place to start.

Bon appetit!

11 responses »

  1. Did Escher ever invent anything? How long would it take him to do one tessellation? I like his art. he got better when he started hanging out with math people.

    • Hi Nohl-
      In a way, Escher invented all of those pieces of art!! Maybe you could do some research to find out if he invented anything else. Have you tried a web search?

      I’m so glad you like Escher’s art. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I wonder if Escher had any other had any other hobbies? besides the beautiful art he has created and the type of math he put into it.

  3. Pingback: Jim Loy, Exploding Dots, and an Advent Calendar | Math Munch

  4. I learned that you can change the addition sign in partitions to multiplication signs, add the products, and you will get a fibonacci number.

  5. This video made me feel very stupid. Not in a bad way but it is amazing to me how somone’s brain can actually make such great connections between shapes and numbers. First, I never wold have thought to think that pentagons and mathematic equations have anything to do with each other, but how does a person make the connection between the two? Like what makes them say “Oh! these shapes and these numbers are connected because….”

  6. The Partitions and the Fibonacci numbers video was very interesting. I learned that the sequence of numbers can multiply to make huger numbers. You can change the addition sign to get a fibonacci number

  7. How does M.C. Escher’s waterfall appear to go uphill? Also, I really enjoyed this quote, “Mathematicians know their subject is beautiful. Escher shows us that it’s beautiful.”

  8. M.C Escher is an amazing visual illusion artist. The works of art he created is like no other. I didn’t realize how connected mathematics and art can be until I watched this video. Although he did get better with his art when he started to hang around other mathematicians. They helped to better him in his artwork.I love how he used human and animals tiles to form his tessellations. It seems like his art pieces are never ending. I do wonder how long it took him to create one of these tessellations? I’m also curious to know who the mathematicians were that helped influenced his art?

  9. Escher’s artwork is so wonderful and interesting to look at, i don’t know why I never thought that any math would be in it. Escher was able to incorporate math and art to make his pieces. normally you wouldn’t think to combine the two because the are so different. It is incredible that Escher was able to see patterns like that and create his own work in the same style. I think it is amazing that Circle Limit Three was created using only drawing tools and was so accurate with the tessellation pattern. Also, how cool is it that Escher-like tessellations could make up our universe, really cool! I wonder how he had made his pieces so accurate in his earlier work. How did he create tessellation patterns that work out perfectly without learning any mathematics that is used? Did he guess and trial- error patterns? Did he just “eyeball” the measurements or did he have some method to the madness?

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