Tag Archives: graphs

Noodles, Flowsnake, and Symmetry

Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!

Gemelli, by Sander Huisman

Gemelli, by Sander Huisman

How much do you like pasta?  Well, these mathematicians and scientists from around the world like pasta so much that they’ve been studying its shape mathematically!  Check out this New York Times article about Sander Huisman, a graduate student in physics from the Netherlands, and Marco Guarnieri and George L. Legendre, two architects from London, who have all taken up making graphs of and equations for pasta shapes.  Sander posts his pasta-graphs on his blog.  Legendre wrote this book about math and pasta, called Pasta By Design.  Legendre has even invented a new type of pasta, shaped like a Mobius strip (see last week’s Math Munch for lots of cool things with Mobius strips), which he named after his baby daughter, Ioli!

Some of Legendre’s pasta plots

Next, here comes the flowsnake.  Wait – don’t run away!  The flowsnake is not a terrifying monster, despite it’s ominous name.  It is a space-filing curve, meaning that the complete curve covers every single point in a part of two-dimensional space.  So if you were to try to draw a flowsnake on a piece of paper, you wouldn’t be able to see any white when you were done.  It’s named flowsnake because it resembles a snowflake.

The flowsnake curve

A single piece of the flowsnake curve.

Units of flowsnake fit together like puzzle pieces to fill the plane

Finally, check out this awesome online symmetry-sketcher, called Symmetry Artist!  Here, you can make doodles of all kinds and then choose how you want to reflect and rotate them.  Fun!

Bon appetit!

Number Gossip, Travels, and Topology

Thanksgiving was great, but I hope you saved room for this week’s Math Munch!

First up, meet Tanya Khovonova, a mathematician and blogger who works at MIT.  Number Gossip is a website of hers where you can find the mysterious facts behind your favorite numbers.  For instance, did you know that the opposite sides of a die add to 7, or that 7 is the only prime number followed by a cube (8=23)? Speaking of 7, I also found this cool test for divisibility by 7 on Tanya’s website.

Tanya Khovonova

Is that divisible by 7? Let's take a walk.

Read about how to use it here, but basically you follow that diagram a certain way, and if you land back at the white dot, then you’re number is divisible by 7. I’m amazed and trying to figure out how it works!

Infographic - Holiday Travel Patterns

Next up, I wanted to share this incredible picture I found today.  It’s an infographic showing travel patterns in the US during the holiday season.  The picture must represent millions of little pieces of data, so I’ve spent a lot of time staring and analyzing it.  Did you notice the bumps in the bottom?  Why is that happening?  Why are the blue lines different from the white lines? There are so many good things to be seen.

Finally, take a look at these pictures!  They’re from Kenneth Baker’s Sketches of Topology blog.  Kenneth makes images demonstrating ideas in topology, one of the most visually appealing branches of mathematics.  Some of it is tough to understand, but the pictures certainly are fascinating.

On a related point, have you taken a look at the Math Munch page of math games? (You can always find the link at the top of the column to the right.)  I just added a topology game, the Four Color Game, and I’m kind of loving it.  It’s based on a famous math result about only needing 4 colors to nicely color any flat map.  This is called the Four Color Theorem, and it’s a part of topology.

Bon appetit!