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February 28, 2015

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4:44 PM | ΤΑ ΑΙΤΙΑ ΤΟΥ επαναλαμβανόμενου ΛΑΘΟΥΣ...
Τα λάθη των μαθητών στα Μαθηματικά έχουν μελετηθεί πολύ και από πολλούς. Έχουν αναλυθεί, έχουν κατηγοριοποιηθεί, έχει προταθεί η αξιοποίησή τους στη διδασκαλία, κι όλα αυτά σε τόσο μεγάλη έκταση και σε τόσο βάθος, που θα πίστευε κανείς ότι αν ένας εκπαιδευτικός  ασχοληθεί […]
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11:45 AM | Reflections on Logic
Miroslav Holub (1923-1998), Czech poet and immunologist who excelled in both endeavors, is one of my favorite poets.  He combines scientific exactitude with empathy and absurdity.  Here is a sample:       Brief Reflections on Logic     by Miroslav […]
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6:40 AM | Deliver Us Not Into Bad Math
What better way to celebrate National Pizza Day than sharing this sign, which hangs in our local Pizza Hut: Admittedly, I’ve never been very good with proportions, but even I know that . Yet, that’s what’s implied by the statements for $3 and $5 in the sign. Further, For $1, you can feed 4 children for 1 day. That’s a […]

February 25, 2015

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3:21 AM | Found poetry - words of Dirac
The epigraph for Richard Bready's "Times of Sand" (a stanza of which I posted a few days ago on 21 February) is a quote from British physicist Paul Dirac (1902-1984, founder of quantum theory).  This quote reminded me how often we find poetry within well-written prose -- and I have gone to WikiQuotes and found more poetic words from Dirac:       If you are        receptive        and […]

February 24, 2015

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3:33 AM | Can I Get Your Digits?
Saw this on a t-shirt recently: It made me think about this problem involving digits. Consider the number 1234567891011121314151617181920 obtained by writing the numbers from 1 to 20 in order side-by-side. What’s the greatest number that can be obtained by crossing out 20 digits? If a fetching lady or handsome gent catches your fancy by solving that problem, […]

February 21, 2015

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1:46 PM | How many grains of sand?
     Sand beaches are places I love to walk.  Adjoining oceans, soft underfoot. Below I post a stanza from Richard Bready's "Times of Sand"  -- a long poem that explores many of the numbers related to sand.      Contemplating grains of sand turns my thoughts to the pair of terms "finite" and "infinite."  One of my friends, university-educated, versed in literature and philosophy, offered "all of the grains of sand" as an […]

February 19, 2015

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6:05 PM | "Γιατί μας βρίζετε, κυρία;"
Συχνά συμβαίνει ένας μαθητής  γεμάτος απορία, κοιτάζοντάς με με μάτια ορθάνοιχτα, να με ρωτάει:  "Κυρία, δεν βαριέστε  κάθε χρόνο να λέτε τα ίδια και τα ίδια;". Τέτοιες ερωτήσεις μου τις κάνουν συνήθως οι μαθητές που ολοφάνερα ταλαιπωρούνται από τη μαθητική τους […]
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4:13 PM | And the Oscar Goes To… a Mathematician?
When you sit down to watch The Oscars on Sunday, February 22, you’ll be witnessing history when a mathematician takes home one of those 13.5″ tall gold statuettes. Math professor Robert Bridson from the University of British Columbia will receive an Academy Award for Technical Achievement, in particular, for his “pioneering work on voxel data structures and its […]
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12:00 AM | Snow Removal
Snow Removal I've long thought about putting a flamethrower on the front of a car to melt snow and ice before you drive across it. Now I've realized that a flamethrower is impractical, but what about a high-powered microwave emitter? —Matt Van Opens Believe it or not, your flamethrower idea is actually the more practical of the two. The flamethrower also has the advantage that, unlike the microwave, it won't interfere with wifi (unless you aim it directly at the […]

February 17, 2015

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1:11 AM | The numbers say it all . . .
The title of my posting today, "The numbers say it all" comes from the final line of "After Leviticus," by Detroit poet Philip Levine.  Levine (1928-2015) died this past Saturday.  Often termed "a working class poet," this fine writer won many awards for his work.       After Leviticus     by Philip Levine     The seventeen metal huts across the way     from the great factory house seventeen  […]

February 15, 2015

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1:34 PM | Colored Pyramids and the Mind of a 7-Year-Old
This is what kept me up last night. Literally. Form a row of ten squares, with each square randomly colored red, green, or yellow. Call this Row 1. Then place nine squares in Row 2 slightly offset above Row 1, and color the squares in Row 2 according to the following rules: If two side-by-side squares have the same […]

February 13, 2015

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8:06 PM | America, land of equals (perhaps)
Preparing to celebrate (after Valentine's Day) Presidents' Day, remembering particularly George Washington (b February 22, 1732) and Abraham Lincoln (b February 12,1809), I offer a few lines by Walt Whitman (1819-1892).       America     by Walt Whitman       Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,       All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or […]

February 12, 2015

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12:00 AM | Black Hole Moon
Black Hole Moon What would happen if the Moon were replaced with an equivalently-massed black hole? If it's possible, what would a lunar ("holar"?) eclipse look like? —Matt "Not much" and "not much." A black hole the mass of the Moon would have an event horizon about the size of a sand grain. Specifically, according to one of my favorite charts, a black hole moon would be a grain of fine to medium-fine sand, and could pass through a sieve of size ASTM […]

February 11, 2015

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7:14 AM | All You Need is LOVE
Valentine’s Day is almost here, but maybe you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places. One possibility is to pop over to Wolfram Alpha and ask: Will you be my Valentine? Or, with a little mathematical creativity, you might be able to find some over at Desmos: Or perhaps you’ve already found a […]

February 09, 2015

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11:05 PM | Surreal parabola, Mobius strip
     When a math term appears in a surrealist poem, will its usage make sense to a mathematician?  Some mathematical folks are critical of poetic use of math words because precision may be lost to "poetic license."  Others feel a pleasing tension between the mathness of a term and the stretched or layered meanings suggested by the poem. With these thoughts in mind, consider these two mathematically-titled poems "Mobius Strip" and "Parabola" by Robert Desnos […]

February 06, 2015

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5:24 PM | Celebrate Black History, Valentine's Day
February is Black History Month and on the 14th we celebrate love with Valentine's Day.  To find in this blog a variety of mathy poems on these topics (and many others) click here to open a search box.

February 05, 2015

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8:34 PM | Moebius Strip
Following a lead from Francisco, I found (here) this tiny poem by Michael Hessel-Mial:       moebius strip       a belt of clouds       twist it, latch it       twisted       which way will it rain?To find more poems that feature the Mobius strip click here to open a search box  -- and enter the term mobius.  Alternatively, the search box also […]
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2:59 AM | Money-Saving Fermi Questions
I was pissed when my cousin wouldn’t give me two $5 bills for a $10 bill. “Sorry, can’t,” he replied simply. When asked why the hell not — I knew he had two $5 bills, because he had gotten one from the gas station attendant earlier, and the waitress just brought him another — he explained that all […]
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12:00 AM | Zippo Phone
Zippo Phone What in my pocket actually contains more energy, my Zippo or my smartphone? What would be the best way of getting the energy from one to the other? And since I am already feeling like Bilbo in this one, is there anything else in my pocket that would have unexpected amounts of stored energy? —Ian Cummings The Zippo lighter easily beats the phone, even though its fuel tank is barely half the size of a large phone's battery, because hydrocarbons are fantastic at storing […]

February 02, 2015

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5:48 PM | Is winter half over?
     Today (February 2) those of us with roots in Pennsylvania join enthusiasts from everywhere as we  look to mythical groundhog Punxsutawney Phil for a forecast concerning prolonged winter or early spring.  This morning Phil's forecast was bleak but not unexpected: we will have six more weeks of winter.     This news that our winter is only half over has led me to a poem (found in the illustrated anthology Talking to the Sun, edited by Kenneth […]
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5:46 PM | January 2015 (and prior) -- titles, links for posts
Scroll down to find titles and dates of posts so far in 2015.  You may follow these links offered for each year to to go to lists of posts through 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011 -- and all the way back to March 2010 when this blog was begun. This link leads to a SEARCH BOX for the blog and this link leads to a PDF file that lists searchable topics and names of poets and mathematicians presented herein.      Jan 30  Twined Arcs, Defying Euclid     […]
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12:07 PM | Solution to Super Bowl XLIX Problem
In the post When Super Bowl XLIX Starts to Bore You on January 29, you were asked to consider the following problem: Imagine that the NFL has eliminated divisions, and there are just two conferences with 16 teams each. To simplify things, every team plays the other 15 teams in their conference exactly once each. At end […]

January 30, 2015

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6:31 PM | Twined Arcs, Defying Euclid
     The English language has adopted into current usage many terms from other languages.  French terms like coup de grace and haut monde have for many years been found in English dictionaries.  Recently, computer terms such as bite and captcha and google have achieved widespread use.  In addition, those of us who are fluent in the language of mathematics find that its terms sometimes offer a concise best way to describe a non-mathematical phenomenon.  […]

January 29, 2015

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9:09 AM | When Super Bowl XLIX Starts to Bore You…
I appreciate that the Super Bowl unites all Americans in their inability to read Roman numerals. (Caution — oxymoron ahead!) If you’re a smart football fan, then you’ve invited folks to your house to watch the game, so you don’t have to drive home drunk on a cold Sunday night in February. If this year’s Super […]

January 28, 2015

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12:00 AM | Tug of War
Tug of War Would it be possible for two teams in a tug-o-war to overcome the ultimate tensile strength of an iron rod and pull it apart? How big would the teams have to be? —Markus Andersen A couple dozen people could pull a half-inch iron rod apart. Tug-of-war, a simple game in which two teams try to pull a rope in opposite directions, has a surprisingly bloody history. I don't mean that there's some kind of gruesome historical forerunner of modern tug-of-war.[1]Although […]

January 27, 2015

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1:24 PM | Popularizing Mathematics: ICME-13
In my professional career, I’ve had the pleasure to: solve problems with some of the world’s greatest problem-solvers during my tenure at MathCounts; work side-by-side with some of the world’s greatest educators when I managed the Illuminations project at NCTM; and, now lead the development of a world-class digital math curriculum at Discovery Education. To […]
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9:09 AM | When Super Bowl XLIX Starts to Bore You…
Most football players are temperamental. That’s 90 percent temper and 10 percent mental. Doug Plank, former Chicago Bear I appreciate that the Super Bowl unites all Americans in their inability to read Roman numerals. (Caution — oxymoron ahead!) If you’re a smart football fan, then you’ve invited folks to your house to watch the game, so […]

January 26, 2015

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6:58 PM | ΜΑΘΗΜΑΤΙΚΑ ΚΑΙ ΓΛΩΣΣΙΚΗ ΔΙΔΑΣΚΑΛΙΑ
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1:35 PM | Poetry-math images; Expectation
     Search engines are very useful in my search for mathy poets and poems.  Recently I have noticed that a link to images  has been offered prior to the verbal links when I have queried Google using "mathematics poetry."  Some of the visuals are quotations, some are book-covers, some are poems.  When you have time, explore and enjoy!      Finding more via Google that I expected connected me with an old poem.  Here, unearthed […]

January 23, 2015

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4:48 PM | Combinations in Deal a Story
Robert D. Reed Publishers — the publishing geniuses behind Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks — recently published Deal a Story by Sue Viders, a card game in which writers deal themselves a “hand” to use as the basis for fiction writing. Think Richard Simmons’ Deal-A-Meal, but for fiction writers instead of fatties (for those of you old […]
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