# Posts

### September 19, 2014

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5:56 AM | Ahoy, Matey! Math Jokes Ho!

A ditloid is a puzzle in which a fact must be discerned from the numbers and abbreviated letters in the clue. For example, 7 D in a W is a ditloid for “7 Days in a Week,” and 20 V on a D is a ditloid for “20 Vertices on a Dodecahedron.” Here’s a ditloid in honor of International Talk Like […]

### September 17, 2014

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12:00 AM | Balloon Car

Balloon Car
My 12-year-old daughter is proposing an interesting project. She is planning to attach a number of helium balloons to a chair, which in turn would be tethered by means of a rope to a Ferrari. Her 13-year-old friend would then drive the Ferrari around, while she sits in the chair enjoying uninterrupted views of the countryside. Leaving aside the legal and insurance difficulties, my daughter is keen to know the maximum speed that she could expect to attain, and how many helium
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### September 15, 2014

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11:35 PM | Remembering Lee Lorch

Lee Lorch was a mathematician known for his social activism on behalf of black Americans as well as for his mathematics. He died in February of this year in Toronto, at age 98. A life-long communist and a life-long crusader. Last Thursday I attended a memorial service (organized by Joe Auslander, a poetry-lover who one day had introduced me to the work of Frank Dux) for Lorch -- sponsored by the Mathematical Association for America and held at the MAA
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10:54 AM | Book Review: 365 Things To Make You Go Hmmm…

Before reading 365 Things That Make You Go Hmmm…, I hadn’t realized that I’d been on Earth for 1.3 billion seconds, and I never thought about what someone would feel like after spending a day in my mind. That’s the beauty of this incredible book — it asks you to think about things that you’ve probably […]

### September 11, 2014

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7:56 PM | Hailstone numbers shape a poem

One of my favorite mathy poets is Halifax mathematician Robert Dawson -- his work is complex and inventive, and fun to puzzle over. Dawson's webpage at St Mary's University lists his mathematical activity; his poetry and fiction are available in several issues of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics and in several postings for this blog (15 April 2012, 30 November 2013, 2 March 2014) and in various other locations findable by
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1:11 PM | Exponentially Smarter, Literally

To show my sons what Siri can do, I asked her (it?) the following question: What is 6 + 4? Siri told me, “The answer is 10.” But she also provided a bunch of other information pulled from Wolfram Alpha, including the following data: This data appears to be taken from dissertation research by B. A. Fierman which […]

### September 08, 2014

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9:45 PM | Math Jokes from Reader’s Digest

All of the following jokes were borrowed from Reader’s Digest, which I’m sure they borrowed from elsewhere. Did you hear about the mathematician who’s afraid of negative numbers? He’ll stop at nothing to avoid them. How easy is it to count in binary? It’s as easy as 01 10 11. A Roman walks into the […]

### September 07, 2014

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11:52 PM | Hypertext poetry

We computer-screen readers all know hypertext; when we read along in Wikipedia or some other online document and come across an underlined term whose font color is light blue -- at such a point we may decide to keep on reading as if we had not noticed the light blue "hyperlink," or we may locate our cursor on that text, click our mouse, and link to a new screen of visual information. My first encounter with hypertext poetry was the work of Stephanie
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### September 05, 2014

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11:11 AM | Ring Me Up!

When my college roommate contracted crabs, he went to CVS to buy some lice cream. As you can imagine, he didn’t want to announce to the world what he was buying or why, so he put the box on the counter with a notepad, a bottle of aspirin, a pack of cigarettes, a bag of […]

### September 03, 2014

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4:55 PM | Mathy poems via e-mail

Publishing a blog about poetry and mathematics brings me new connections -- it is not unusual for a day to begin with an email from another poetry-math enthusiast who wants to share a link or a poem. One of these is retired USC biochemist Paul Geiger. Using as raw material a poem by Shel Silverstein, Geiger created a 9x9 syllable-square:S.C.S. STOUT by Paul Geiger Apologizing and Acknowledging Shel
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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. Aug 30 Mathy Poetry from Bridges 2014Aug 27 Grandma Got STEMAug 23 Changing colors, counting syllablesAug 19 Poetry in Math JournalsAug
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### September 02, 2014

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8:07 PM | A Gridiculously Clever Blog Post

Do you know what the following graph represents? Sine on the dotted line. If you tell that joke to the right audience, you’ll likely hear a triggle. (If you tell it to the wrong audience, you’ll likely hear the sound of tomatoes whizzing past your head.) Triggle is a portmanteau, a combination of two or […]

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12:00 AM | All the Money

All the Money
People sometimes say "If I had all the money in the world ..." in order to discuss what they would do if they had no financial constraints. I'm curious, though, what would happen if one person had all of the world's money?
Daniel Pino
So you've somehow found a way to gather all the world's money. We won't worry about how you did it—let's just assume you invented some kind of money-summoning magic spell.
Physical currency—coins and
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### September 01, 2014

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[I just made this giant tech post on the eleVR blog about audio for VR film, which got me in the mood for a post with actual audio included in it. Sorry for neglecting you, regular blog!] This is a story about two piano pieces. Memory is weird. Things change fast and I change fast […]

### August 31, 2014

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12:40 AM | Mathy Poetry from Bridges 2014

This year's math-arts conference, Bridges 2014, was in Korea. And a dozen of us who write poetry-with-mathematics -- unable to attend in person -- worked with coordinators Sarah Glaz and Mike Naylor to offer (on August 16) a virtual reading of work videotaped in advance by the poets. The virtual reading is here on YouTube. Mathematician-poet participants (links are to poems posted in this blog) include
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### August 28, 2014

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12:34 AM | Grandma Got STEM

It was my good fortune last weekend to meet the sister-in-law of one of my neighbors, mathematician and Harvey Mudd professor, Rachel Levy. Levy is also a blogger and her postings in Grandma Got STEM tell of achievements of women in science. I have looked for a poem to pair with my mention here of Grandma Got STEM. Although the following poem by Tami Haaland (found at the Poetry Foundation website) is not mathematical, it
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### August 27, 2014

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12:00 AM | Walking New York

Walking New York
Could a person walk the entire city of NY in their lifetime? (including inside apartments)
Asaf Shamir
Like the answer to Paint the Earth, the answer to the first part of this question is pretty straightforward to look up.
But what if it weren't? Can we figure out the answer from things we already know? Let's look at a few ways of estimating it.
First of all, how wide is a street? I've never seen one of those flashing crosswalk countdowns signs start with less
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### August 24, 2014

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1:57 AM | Changing colors, counting syllables

Changing Colorsby JoAnne GrowneyBlueyoyo --awkwardlystopping-starting,rising-plummeting,seeking self-control. Please,mother-friend-lover-child, don'tpull string. Let me collect myself.I lift myself to the treetops,soar with the golden eagle,find rest on fleecy clouds.My orb embraceseverybody --powerful,yellow sun.

### August 20, 2014

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12:00 AM | Into the Blue

Into the Blue
If I shot an infinitely strong laser beam into the sky at a random point, how much damage would it do?
Garrett D.
A lot of the time, if a question includes the word "infinity," the answer is "an infinite amount"—when there's an answer at all.
An infinitely strong laser pointer would deliver an infinite amount of energy to the air in its path, which would in turn radiate an infinite amount of energy in all directions, which would destroy everything.
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### August 19, 2014

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2:37 PM | Poetry in Math Journals

The Mathematical Intelligencer (publisher of the poem by Gizem Karaali given below) and the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics (an online, open-access journal edited by Mark Huber and Gizem Karaali) are periodicals that include math-related poetry in each issue. For example, in the most recent issue of JHM, we have these titles:Articles: Joining the mathematician's delirium to the poet's logic'': Mathematical Literature and
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### August 18, 2014

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12:11 PM | Easiest KenKen Ever?

Saying that I like KenKen® would be like saying that Sigmund Freud liked cocaine. (Too soon?) ‘Twould be more proper to say that I am so thoroughly addicted to the puzzle that the length of my dog’s morning walks aren’t measured in miles or minutes but in number of 6 × 6 puzzles that I complete. (Most mornings, […]

### August 17, 2014

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11:37 AM | Spiral Inequality

(1) Archimedean spiral(2) Fermat's spiral (Parabolic spiral)(3) Hyperbolic spiral (Reciprocal spiral)(4) Lituus(5) Logarithmic spiral( Mathematical software used: gnuplot )

### August 16, 2014

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3:43 AM | Think of a Number

I love to create math games almost as much as I love to play them. My favorite professional project was leading the development of Calculation Nation. And my favorite game on the site is neXtu, though other games on the site may promote more sophisticated mathematical thinking. I have many reasons to love my wife, […]

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3:43 AM | My best dream is floating . . .

Today I want to urge you to visit several sites in addition to my blog. For example, there is the recent announcement of 2014 Fields Medal (equivalent to a Nobel prize) winners -- the four winners include the first female mathematician (Maryam Mirzakhani) ever to be selected as a Fields Medalist (equivalent to a Nobel Prize) and a mathematician who loves poetry (Manjul Bhargava). With the help of a "Google Alert" I found a
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### August 15, 2014

### August 14, 2014

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I’ve posted code for asciihelper, a MacOS editor/viewer for Asciidoc on github. It is now at version 0.1, but it does work. (You will need Xcode beta 6 or later to compile it; it is written in Swift). Asciidoc is a markup language that Is human readable Can produce output in HTML, PDF, EPUB3, and […]

### August 13, 2014

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12:00 AM | Expensive Shoebox

Expensive Shoebox
What would be the most expensive way to fill a size 11 shoebox (e.g. with 64 GB MicroSD cards all full of legally purchased music)?
Rick Lewis
A shoebox full of valuable stuff seems to top out at about $2 billion. Surprisingly, this turns out to be true for a wide range of possible fillings.
The MicroSD cards are a good idea. iTunes songs cost about $1 each, and MicroSD cards have a capacity of about 1.6 petabytes per gallon. A men's size 11 shoebox is about 10-15
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### August 11, 2014

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5:25 PM | Narrated by a mathematician

Recently translated by Adam Morris, the novel With My Dog-Eyes (Melville House, 2014) by Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst (1930-2004) is narrated by a mathematician-poet. That fact of narration is what first drew me to the book. (See also this July 3 posting.) And then there is (related in Morris's introduction to the translation) Hilst's sad life, perhaps mirrored in her characters. These are the opening lines from the novel's narrator: The cross on
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12:34 AM | Spiral Polyskelion

Spiral Types:(1) Archimedean spiral: r(θ) = a*θ(1 < number of spiral turns < 2)(2 < number of spiral turns < 3)(2) Fermat's spiral (Parabolic spiral): r(θ) = a*sqrt(θ)(1 < number of spiral turns < 2)(2 < number of spiral turns < 3)(3) Hyperbolic spiral (Reciprocal spiral): r(θ) = a/θ(4) Lituus: r(θ) = a/sqrt(θ)(5) Logarithmic spiral: r(θ) = a*exp(b*θ)(b = 0.25)(b = 0.618)( Mathematical software used: GeoGebra )