November 26, 2014

12:00 PM | Giving thanks for poems
     As Thanksgiving approaches I am thankful not only for many blessings but also for the numbers I use to count them -- four children, two parents, one sister, an uncounted number of friends.  And I am thankful for poetry.  Here is one of my favorite math-related poems.How to Find the Longest Distance Between Two Points […]

November 24, 2014

4:00 PM | Thanksgiving Math Quiz
Five questions to get you geared up for Turkey Day. Which weighs more? The weight of turkey that Americans will eat on Thanksgiving. The combined weight of the entire population of Chicago. What percent of turkeys raised each year are eaten by Americans? About 90%. About 50%. How close are humans to being pumpkins? About […]

November 21, 2014

2:27 PM | The Math Lady Sings
     One of my daily emails results from a Google Alert -- which I have set up to let me know of new web-postings (or old information newly accessed) that contain the terms "mathematics" and "poetry." (Another online delight comes when I Google "mathematics poetry" (or "math poetry") and browse the images that occur at the top of the list that Google offers.  What fun!)     It is through a Google Alert notification that I learned of the book It Ain't […]

November 20, 2014

12:00 AM | Alternate Universe What Ifs
Alternate Universe What Ifs Dispatches from a horrifying alternate universe This week: Excerpts from What If articles written in a world which, thankfully, is not the one we live in: ... and most SCUBA equipment functions relatively well when immersed in human blood. However, since the density of blood (1.06 kg/L) is much higher than fresh water (1.00 kg/L) and slightly higher than seawater (1.03 kg/L), SCUBA diving weights must be adjusted. For obvious reasons, most equipment manufactured […]

November 18, 2014

7:41 PM | In Praise of Fractals
     Philosopher Emily Grosholz is also a poet -- a poet who often writes of mathematics. Tessellations Publishing has recently (2014) published her collection Proportions of the Heart:  Poems that Play with Mathematics (with illustrations by Robert Fathauer) and she has given me permission to present one of the fine poems from that collection. In Praise of Fractals     by Emily Grosholz       […]

November 17, 2014

11:30 AM | Every (Math) Trick in the Book
Linda Gojak has long been a proponent of doing away with tricks in math class (see also Making Mathematical Connections, October 2013). She has plenty of company from Tina Cardone, author of Nix the Tricks, a free downloadable book of tricks that Cardone believes should be removed from the curriculum. (It also includes what and how […]

November 15, 2014

8:51 AM | The Weird I Before E Rule
I’ve always hated the I before E except after C rule. My hatred is simple: a rule is a “prescribed direction for conduct,” and, as far as I’m concerned, it should be accurate very close to 100% of the time. The Triangle Inequality? That’s a rule that always works. The sum of the angles of […]

November 14, 2014

8:18 PM | Imaginary Number
Last week (on November 6) I was invited to read some of my poems at the River Poets reading in Bloomsburg, PA (where I lived and taught for a bunch of years).  Among the friends that I had a chance to greet were Susan and Richard Brook -- and, from them, received this mathy poem by Pullitzer-Prize-winning-poet Vijay Seshadri.Imaginary Number     by Vijay SeshadriThe mountain that remains when the universe is destroyedis not big and is not small.Big and small […]

November 13, 2014

Όταν πιάνει να βρέχει στο Σταυρό, το νερό δεν πέφτει μόνο από τον ουρανό. Μοιάζει να  πέφτει από παντού. Από το βουνό κι από τη θάλασσα! Πέφτει από τα δέντρα, από τα κτήρια κι από τους γκρίζους δρόμους, πέφτει από μένα την ίδια, από τη σκέψη μου κι απ' την καρδιά μου. Τόση είναι η […]
12:00 AM | Laser Umbrella
Laser Umbrella Stopping rain from falling on something with an umbrella or a tent is boring. What if you tried to stop rain with a laser that targeted and vaporized each incoming droplet before it could come within ten feet of the ground? Zach Wheeler Stopping rain with a laser is one of those ideas that sounds totally reasonable, but if you— While the idea of a laser umbrella might be appealing, it— Ok. The idea of stopping rain with a laser is a thing we're currently talking […]

November 12, 2014

3:10 AM | In college she studied mathematics
     In the third paragraph of the Wikipedia bio for Marguerite Duras (1914-1996), we read "At 17, Marguerite went to France, her parents' native country, where she began studying for a degree in mathematics."  I had the opportunity, several weeks ago at AFI Silver, to enjoy a screening of an exquisite restoration of "Hiroshima Mon Amour," a 1959 film for which Duras wrote the screenplay (nominated for an academy award).    At the website goodreads.com I […]

November 10, 2014

12:34 AM | Composite or Prime?
 Her age is 9.Is that 9compositeor prime?     I have a wonderful collection of grandchildren and am continually on the lookout for both math and poetry activities to include in the things that they enjoy.  Recently I mail-ordered retired fourth-grade teacher Franny Vergo's collection Mathapalooza:  A Collection of Math Poetry for Primary and Intermediate Students (AuthorHouse, 2013).  Here is a sample from that collection:  […]

November 09, 2014

10:28 AM | Μιλώντας στην Άννα για τα Μαθηματικά!
Επιτέλους έχω την Άννα στην αγκαλιά μου! Έφτασε την Παρασκευή το βράδυ αεροπορικώς, αλλά ήμουν πολύ απασχολημένη αυτές τις μέρες και μόλις σήμερα βρήκα χρόνο να την πάρω στα χέρια μου. Κανονικά θα έπρεπε να έχει έρθει με το ταχυδρομείο ένα μήνα πριν, αλλά τελευταία κάτι […]

November 08, 2014

12:55 AM | GRiN and Solve It
My boys have been asking to do Math Trivia before bedtime each night, and one of my favorite sites, GRiN: Good Riddles Now, has provided a treasure trove of fun puzzles that they can solve. Here’s one of them. There are 100 coins on the floor in a dark room: 90 coins show heads, the other […]

November 06, 2014

9:23 PM | Math in the Senate Election
With the election two days in the rearview mirror, three states remain undecided in their Senate election: Louisiana, which uses an archaic and easily manipulated run-off system; Alaska, where Mark Begich claims that there are many uncounted rural votes; and, Virginia, the Old Dominion — my home state — with Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie in an […]

November 05, 2014

2:44 PM | A big voice, Galway Kinnell (1927-2014)
     Last week master poet Galway Kinnell died (NYTimes obituary).  One finds a detailed bio and a baker’s dozen of his best poems at the Poetry Foundation website -- do a search using the poet's name.  Many of Kinnell's poems are about nature -- somewhat in the way that mathematics may be about science  --  that is, he uses the images of nature to speak multiply of complex issues.  Here is a poem about identity that includes several math […]

November 04, 2014

3:36 PM | Car Talk Puzzlers
I make a point of not having heroes, but there are people I greatly admire. Tom Magliozzi, the co-host of Car Talk who passed away yesterday, was one of those people. Not only was Tom able to make other people laugh, he was always laughing himself. He and his brother Ray hosted Car Talk from […]
8:59 AM | Tic-Tac-Toe (井字遊戲)
Let f(a,b,x,y) = 1/exp((a^2 - x^2)^(-2)) + 1/exp((a^2 - y^2)^(-2)) - bEquations:Blue curve (#) ..... f(2, 0.999, x, y) = 0Green curve (o) ..... f(0.125, 0.85, x, y) = 0Red curve (x) ..... f(0.125, 0.999, 2(y+x), 2(y-x)) = 0(Tessellations)When the parameter 'a' changes from 0 to 2, the graphchanges shape from a plus sign(+) to a number sign(#).( Mathematical software used: Graph )

November 03, 2014

1:10 AM | Poetry from the words of Lord Kelvin
Do not imagine that mathematics is hard and crabbed, and repulsive to common sense.  It is merely the etherealizationof common sense. When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express itin numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind. ---William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)
1:08 AM | January - October -- Titles, dates of posts
Scroll down to find titles and dates of posts in 2014.  At the bottom is a links to lists of posts through 2013 and 2012 and 2011 -- and all the way back to March 2010 when this blog was begun.   This link leads to a PDF file that lists searchable topics and names of poets and mathematicians presented herein.      Oct 30  Tomorrow is Halloween     Oct 28  Counting into the Future . . .     Oct 26  […]

October 31, 2014

11:10 AM | Word + Letter = Math Term
On a recent Sunday Puzzle on NPR, Will Shortz gave a letter and a word, and the contestant was to guess the name of a popular TV show using an anagram of the letters (“Coming to TV This Fall: Anagrams,” Oct 12, 2014). For instance, M + NAMED gave the answer MAD MEN. This struck me as an interesting […]

October 30, 2014

7:20 PM | Tomorrow is Halloween
Typing Halloween in this blog's SEARCH BOX will lead you to mathy Halloween poems posted herein, and this Poetry Foundation link will lead to a host of other seasonal poems.
12:00 AM | Physical Salary
Physical Salary What if people's incomes appeared around them as cash in real time? How much would you need to make to be in real trouble? Julia Anderson, Albuquerque, NM First, let's think about coins. The US federal minimum wage in the US is \$7.25/hour, which is about \$15,000/year for a full-time job. If you earn the minimum wage, you make a penny every 5 seconds during work hours, or every 20 seconds if you average it over your whole week. Someone making minimum wage in […]

October 28, 2014

1:09 PM | Counting into the Future . . .
     Remember that you have only until November 1 to submit a winning "poem of provocation and witness" to the Split This Rock Poetry Contest.  If you don't already,  you will want also to subscribe to Split This Rock's Poem of the Week.  This week's poem ("Past Tense" by Sam Taylor) opens with these numbers:       In the Great Depression of 2047,       a time of sorrow rivaled […]

October 27, 2014

10:01 AM | Halloween Math Jokes (Best Of)
I’d like to put together an entire collection of Halloween math jokes, but I don’t have the energy to write it. I think I’ll use a ghost writer. Did you hear about the ghost who earned 14% on his math exam? He made a lot of boo-boos. The following is blatantly stolen from all the […]
12:22 AM | Dimensions of Discovery
Along the one-dimensional straight line there are points and segmentsbut no curves or squares.In the flat plane of two dimensions there are points and segments and circles and squares.In the vast space of three dimensions there are points and segments and squares and spheres.In a space of four dimensions there is more than we can imagine.The first draft of the following poem was inspired by an art exhibit in Silver Spring in 2007. A few weeks ago I found that draft […]

October 23, 2014

4:37 PM | ABC of statistics
     Songwriter Larry Lesser is one of the organizers of a poetry-with-mathematics reading at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio next January.  And sometimes Lesser writes poetry.  He has told me that his poem below was in response to an abecedarian poem in a 2006 paper of mine, "Mathematics of Poetry" published in the online journal JOMA -- and available here.Statistic Acrostic   by Lawrence Mark Lesser and Dennis K. […]
2:31 PM | True Inequalities
It’s true that Bertrand Russell once stated he could prove anything, given that 1 + 1 = 1. What’s likely not true is that someone challenged Russell to prove that he was the Pope, and he responded by saying, “I am one. The Pope is one. Therefore, the Pope and I are one.” Whatever. Even […]
12:00 AM | Distant Death
Distant Death What is the farthest from Earth that any Earth thing has died? —Amy from NZ With Halloween approaching, I guess it's the season for death-related questions. The farthest from Earth that any human has died is about 167 kilometers,[1]Plus or minus a kilometer. when three cosmonauts on Soyuz 11—Vladislav Volkov, Viktor Patsayev, and Georgi Dobrovolsky—suffered a depressurization accident while returning from Earth. They were moving at about 7,755 meters per second at […]

October 22, 2014

Πέντε μήνες μετά την τελευταία μου ανάρτηση, φεύγοντας σήμερα από το σχολείο, ένιωσα την ανάγκη να μοιραστώ την εμπειρία μου με τους φίλους αναγνώστες του blog, όσους ακόμη έχουν απομείνει και αν έχουν απομείνει... Θα πρέπει εδώ να κάνω μια παρένθεση για να πω ότι στο διάστημα […]
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