Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!
It’s an end-of-the-year group post!
Paul: This week I found Brandon Todd Wilson, a graphic artist who lives in Kansas City. He started a new and ambitious project. He wants to make a design for each of the numbers 0 through 365, making a new one each day of the year. That’s tough, but he’s done some amazing things so far. Check them out over at the numbers project. I’m amazed by the sneaky, clever ways he comes up with to showcase the numbers. Can you tell what numbers these three are below? Click to find out.
Maybe you could try a numeric design of your own. Perhaps for your favorite number or your birthday. If you make something your proud of, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we could feature your work on Math Munch!
Anna: Next up, it’s probably the end of the school year for most of you readers out there. Our school year is wrapping up, too. It’s sad, but also exciting, because we’re looking forward to what comes in the future. Recently, some of my students, looking to their futures, have been wondering what many students wonder: If I like math, what are some things I can do with it after I leave school? (We’ve posted about this question before – check out this post on the site We Use Math and any of the interviews on our Q&A page.) We here at Math Munch had the honor last week to meet an awesome woman who uses math all the time in her work as a scientist – Nina Fefferman!
Nina works mainly as a biologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey researching all kinds of cool and interesting things relating to epidemiology, or the study of infectious diseases and how they spread into epidemics in groups of people. How does she use math? In everything! Since dealing with infectious diseases is best done before they become epidemics, scientists like Nina make mathematical models to predict how a disease will spread before it hits. These models are really important for governments and hospitals, who use them to figure out how they can prepare for possible epidemics.
Nina loves math and her work – and you can hear all about it in this TEDx talk she did in 2010.
Justin: Finally, check out this short video by Sander Huisman, of mathematical pasta fame:
Sander has some more great videos, too. The shape that Sander’s cut and slide pattern gets closer and closer to is called the twindragon. It’s related to the more famous dragon fractal. Notice how the area of the shape stays the same throughout the video. Thanks to the kind folks at math.stackexchange for helping me to identify this fractal so quickly!
In searching about this geometry idea of “cut and slide”, I ran across some great stuff. One thing I found was this neat applet by Frederik Vanhoutte. (Warning: JAVA required.) Frederik is a medical radiation physicist who lives in Belgium and who likes to make wonderful graphics in his spare time. Frederik has shared many of these on his site—check out his portfolio.
On his About page, Frederik says this about why he makes his generative graphics:
“When rain hits the windscreen, I see tracks alpha particles trace in cells. When I pull the plug in the bath tub, I stay to watch the little whirlpool. When I sit at the kitchen table, I play with the glasses to see the caustics. At a candle light dinner, I stare into the flame. Sometimes at night, I find myself behind the computer. When I finally blink, a mess of code is drawing random structures on the screen. I spend the rest of the night staring.”