Continents, Math Explorers’ Club, and “I use math for…”

Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!

stevestrogatz

Steven Strogatz.

All of our munches this week come from the recent tweets of mathematician, author, and friend of the blog Steven Strogatz. Steve works at Cornell University as an applied mathematician, tackling questions like “If people shared taxis with strangers, how much money could be saved?” and “What caused London’s Millennium Bridge to wobble on its opening day?”

On top of his research, Steve is great at sharing math with others. (This week I learned one great piece of math from him, and then another, and suddenly there was a very clear theme to my post!) Steve has written for the New York Times and was recently awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize as someone “whose voice and vision can tell us about science’s aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, providing not merely new information but cause for reflection, even revelation.”

NMFLogo_Horiz_RGB_300DPI2This Saturday, Steve will be presenting at the first-ever National Math Festival. The free and fun main event is at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and there are related math events all around the country this weekend. Check and see if there’s one near you!

Here are a few pieces of math that Steve liked recently. I liked them as well, and I hope you will, too.

First up, check out this lovely image:

tesselation1-blog480It appeared on Numberplay and was created by Hamid Naderi Yeganeh, a student at University of Qom in Iran. Look at the way the smaller and smaller tiles fit together to make the design. It’s sort of like a rep-tile, or this scaly spiral. And do those shapes look familiar? Hamid was inspired by the shapes of the continents of Africa and South America (if you catch my continental drift). Maybe you can create your own Pangaea-inspired tiling.

If you think that’s cool, you should definitely check out Numberplay, where there’s a new math puzzle to enjoy each week!

Next, up check out the Math Explorers’ Club, a collection of great math activities for people of all ages. The Club is a project of Cornell University’s math department, where Steve teaches.

The first item every sold on the auction site eBay. Click through for the story!

The first item every sold on the auction site eBay. Click through for the story!

One of the bits of math that jumped out to me was this page about auctions. There’s so much strategy and scheming that’s involved in auctions! I remember being blown away when I first learned about Vickrey auctions, where the winner pays not what they bid but what the second-highest bidder did!

If auctions aren’t your thing, there’s lots more great math to browse at the Math Explorer’s Club—everything from chaos and fractals to error correcting codes. Even Ehrenfeucht-Fraïssé games, which are brand-new to me!

And finally this week: have you ever wondered “What will I ever use math for?” Well, SIAM—the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics—has just the video for you. They asked people attending one of their meetings to finish the sentence, “I use math for…”. Here are 32 of their answers in just 60 seconds.

Thanks for sharing all this great math, Steve! And bon appetit, everyone!

5 responses »

  1. I learned a lot throughout this video, and I never knew there were so many things math applies to. I understand that Math and Science are very alike and in order to do Science you need math. Math is needed in almost everything if you really think about it. Technology is a huge one, and we use it everyday. I am using it right now by leaving a comment. It interests me so much about how we have developed and improved everything. Now everywhere you look there could be a genius behind you that improves our world even more than we have today. That’s why math is needed to understand and create the future.

    • Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Gabby. I especially like your image of there being a genius right behind me, because absolutely: we can all do math and all do good in this world. It’s all a matte of giving it a go!
      Thanks for reading and sharing, Gabby.
      Justin

  2. wow. I didn’t know math could help out with so many things. Although I do wonder how you use math in those particular jobs, and what type of math

  3. I believe its true! Math can help with lots of things! It helps with SO much! I wondered though………..How do people come up with so many ways to use math?

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