Wild Maths, Ambiguous Cylinders, and 228 Women

Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!

You should definitely take some time to explore Wild Maths, a site dedicated to the creative aspects of mathematics. Wild Maths is produced by the Millennium Mathematics Project, which also makes NRICH and Plus.

I won!

One fun things you’ll find on Wild Maths is a game called Square It! You can play it with a friend or against the computer. The goal is to color dots on a square grid so that you are the first to make a square in your color. It is quite challenging! To the left you’ll find my first victory against the computer after losing the first several matches.

You’ll find lots more on Wild Maths, including an equal averages challenge, a number grid journey, and some video interviews with mathematicians Katie Steckles and Nira Chamberlain. Wild Maths also has a Showcase of work that has been submitted by their readers, much like our own Readers’ Gallery. (We love hearing from you and seeing your creations!)

Next up is a video of an amazing illusion:

Now, I am as big of a fan of squircles as anyone, but this video really threw me for a loop. The illusion just gets crazier and crazier! The illusion was designed by Kokichi Sugihara of Meiji University in Japan. It recently won second place in the Best Illusion of the Year Contest.

We are fortunate that Dave Richeson has hit it out of the park again, this time sharing both an explanation of the mathematics behind the illusion and a paper template you can use to make your own ambiguous cylinder!

Finally this week, I’d like to share a fascinating document with you. It is a supplement to a book called Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940s PhD’s by Judy Green and Jeanne LaDuke.

The supplement gives biographies of all 228 American women who earned their PhD’s in mathematics during the first four decades of the 20th century. You might enjoy checking out this page from the National Museum of American History, which describes some about the origin of the book project.

Judy Green, Jeanne LaDuke, and fifteen women who received their PhD’s in math before 1940.

I hope you will find both pleasure and inspiration in reading the stories of these pioneers in American mathematics. I have found them to be a lot of fun to read.

Bon appetit!

The Sierpinski Valentine, Cardioids, and Möbius Hearts

Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!

With Valentine’s Day this Thursday, let’s take a look at some mathy Valentine stuff. If you’re searching for the perfect card design for your valentine, search no more. Math Munch has you covered!

Sierpinski Valentine

xkcd creator Randall Munroe

Above you can see a clever twist on the classic Sierpinski Triangle, which I found on xkcd, a wonderfully mathematical webcomic. You can read more about xkcd creator Randall Munroe in this interview from the Sept. 2012 issue of Math Horizons. (pdf version)

Ron Doerfler designed another math-insprired Valentine’s Day card, which you can check out here. The image to the left is only part of it. Don’t get it? Well it’s a reference to a mathematical curve called the cardioid (from the Greek word for “heart”). Look what happens if you follow a point on one circle as it rolls around another. You’ll have to imagine it tipped the other way so it’s oriented like a typical heart, but that curve is a cardioid. The second animation was created by the amazing and previously featured Matt Henderson. If you have a compass, then you can make the second one at home.

 A cardioid generated by one circle rolling around another A completely different way to generate a cardioid

Pop-up Sierpinski Heart Card

Really though, nothing says “I Love you” like a Möbius strip. Am I right? Here’s a quick little project you can do to make a pair of linked Möbius hearts. You can find directions here on a blog called 360, or you can watch the video below. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough great stuff, here’s one more project from the 360 blog, a pop-up version of the Sierpinski Heart!

Happy Valentine’s Day, and bon appetit!