January 26, 2015

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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

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 […]

January 22, 2015

12:30 PM | Girls who like math
Often I think about the interactions of girls with mathematics and recently I have been feeling delighted that all of my school-age granddaughters like math. In fact, Harvey Mudd mathematician Rachel Levy has included views from these girls (and from me) here in her blog, "Grandma Got STEM."T h i sg i r ld o e sm a t hS u m f o rf u n  s o i f 1To read selections from several of my favorite poems about girls-in-math (including Sharon Olds' poem "The One Girl at the Boys' Party" […]
12:00 AM | Stairs
Stairs If you made an elevator that would go to space (like the one you mentioned in the billion-story building) and built a staircase up (assuming regulated air pressure) about how long would it take to climb to the top? —Ethan Annas A week or two, if you're a champion stair-climber. Or 12 hours if you're on a motorcycle. A tower to space would be very different from a space elevator. A space elevator would be about 100,000 kilometers tall, while a tower "to space" […]

January 18, 2015

12:30 PM | Probability and Coincidence
     On page 26 of my copy of the latest New Yorker is a poem by Lia Purpura entitled "Probability."  In her brief poem Purpura renders with poetic power the astonishment each of us feels when meeting a long-ago classmate at an out-of-town super market or some other unexpected event.  Take time to follow the link and read this brief poem.     Recently several friends have shared with me their amazement at unexpected coincidences and I have been […]

January 16, 2015

4:53 AM | Making Heads or Tails of Randomness
Which of the four graphs below have a collection of truly random dots? To put a little distance between the question and the spoiler below, let me interject with a couple jokes about randomness and probability. From the ANZSTAT listserv: If you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the chance you […]

January 15, 2015

12:00 AM | Bowling Ball
Bowling Ball You are in a boat directly over the Mariana Trench. If you drop a 7kg bowling ball over the side, how long would it take to hit the bottom? Doug Carter It is a good thing you mentioned the weight, because of a very surprising fact: Most bowling balls float. It's true. Bowling balls all have about the same volume, so they all displace the same weight in seawater—12.13 lbs, or about 5.5 kg. But their weights vary substantially, from as little as 6 lbs to a max of 16. Only […]

January 14, 2015

2:32 PM | To add two and two
     Today I call attention again (as in my post for 6 January, 2015) to the extensive  Science-Poetry collection edited by Norman Hugh Redington and Karen Rae Keck. Mathy (rather than bawdy) limericks are featured in the collection; for example, this one by an unknown author:       There was an old man who said, "Do       Tell me how I'm to add two and two?            I'm not […]

January 11, 2015

4:44 AM | Opposites, Balance
     Recently, and perhaps always, opposites have interested me.  For example, the complementary and sometimes  conflicting nuggets of advice contained in "Pinch a penny, waste a pound" and "It is best to prepare for the days of necessity."   And in  "Kindness effects more than severity" and "Spare the rod, spoil the child."   Maybe what I like best is the challenge of synthesizing opposite truths.     Mathematics contains many pairs […]

January 09, 2015

1:26 AM | The Geometry of Winter, with Eagles
A poetry-listening opportunity in the Washington, DC area:Poet Martin Dickinson will read from his new collection, My Concept of Time, on Sunday, January 11 at Arlington's Iota Cafe.  AND -- if you 're San Antonio on January 11, 2015 you'll want to attend  the 5:30 PM poetry-with-math reading (details here) at the Gonzales Convention Center, sponsored by JHM.  From My Concept of Time, here's a poem of the geometry of our winter world. […]

January 08, 2015

12:42 PM | Number Words and Learned Helplessness
How about some number word puzzles? Here’s a well-known puzzle that you’ve likely seen before: What is the first positive integer that, when spelled out, contains the letter a? And here’s a modification of that puzzle that you may find a little more difficult: What is the first positive integer that, when spelled out, contains […]
12:00 AM | Lunar Swimming
Lunar Swimming What if there was a lake on the Moon? What would it be like to swim in it? Presuming that it is sheltered in a regular atmosphere, in some giant dome or something. Kim Holder This would be so cool. In fact, I honestly think it's cool enough that it gives us a pretty good reason to go to the Moon in the first place. At the very least, it's better than the one Kennedy gave. Floating would feel about the same on the Moon as on Earth, since how high in the water you […]

January 07, 2015

6:23 AM | What I’ve Been Up To
To all of my friends who haven’t heard from me for nearly two years: I apologize. Sorry. I owe you a beer. But I have a good excuse. I’ve been very busy trying to do something revolutionary. In fact, I have a sign on my office window that explains what we’re trying to do. I […]

January 06, 2015

11:19 PM | from MIT Science-Poetry -- The Cal-Dif-Fluk Saga
     Recently I have enjoyed browsing a voluminous online 19th century Science-Poetry collection (Watchers of the Moon) hosted by MIT, gathered and edited by Norman Hugh Redington and Karen Rae Keck. Google led me to the site in a search for " poetry of calculus" and I found there found a fascinating item by J. M. Child: The Cal-Dif-Fluk Saga (from The Monist: A Quarterly Magazine Devoted to the Philosophy of Science -- Open Court Publishing, 1917) and described as […]

January 03, 2015

10:35 PM | The Role of Zero
     In mathematics, as in poetry, multiple meanings are common and create power for the language.   For example, the number 0 is an idempotent element, an additive identity, a multiplicative annihilator -- and it also plays the role of something that may represent nothing.     In Dorothea Tanning's poem below -- I found it at poets.org -- zero takes on still another of its roles, that of place-holder -- as in the numbers 101 and 5000, for […]
10:31 PM | 2014 (and prior) -- titles, dates of posts
Scroll down to find titles and dates of posts in 2014.  At the bottom are 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. Dec 30  Be someone TO COUNT ON in 2015Dec 28  A Fractal PoemDec 25  A thousand Christmas treesDec 24  The gift of a poemDec 20  The Girl Who […]

January 02, 2015

3:43 AM | New Sliver Data Visualization Software
I am happy to announce Sliver, a free software application I wrote over the last two years for multivariate data visualization. Sliver includes parallel coordinate (PC) plots, PC plot matrices, various types of configurable 2D and 3D scatterplots, and plots overlaid on Google Earth, all fully linked by color brushing. Transparency (alpha blending) is supported [...]

January 01, 2015

12:00 AM | Fairy Demographics
Fairy Demographics How many fairies would fly around, if each fairy is born from the first laugh of a child and fairies were immortal? —Mira Kühn, Germany "There are always a lot of young ones," explained Wendy, who was now quite an authority, "because you see when a new baby laughs for the first time a new fairy is born, and as there are always new babies there are always new fairies. They live in nests on the tops of trees; and the mauve ones are boys and the white ones are girls, and […]

December 31, 2014

3:20 AM | Be someone TO COUNT ON in 2015
By any means of counting, the number of incarcerated persons in the United States is TOO LARGE and the proportion of prisoners with BLACK SKIN is TOO GREAT  and there is TOO MUCH VIOLENCE and DEATH in our prisons. RESOLVE to stop the violence (RSVP)  in America's prisons!  Work for Equal Justice!  Let your resolutions for the New Year 2015 be inspired by a poem ( The one below is from Poetry, 2009, found at poetryfoundation.org and you may find more at Split This […]

December 30, 2014

"Κάτι θα γίνει, θα δεις" ήταν ο τίτλος της συλλογής διηγημάτων που διάβασα στην αρχή της χρονιάς που εκπνέει. Το βιβλίο είχε κάνει ήδη οκτώ εκδόσεις και μια ανατύπωση, όταν το αγόρασα. Εγώ δεν είχα αντιληφθεί μέχρι τότε την επιτυχία του, ούτε μου το συνέστησε κάποιος […]

December 29, 2014

3:06 AM | A Fractal Poem
    A fractal is an object that displays self-similarity -- roughly, this means that the parts have the same shape as the whole -- as in the following diagram which shows successive stages in the development of the "box fractal" (from Wolfram MathWorld).     Michigan poet Jack Ridl and I share an alma mater (Pennsylvania's Westminster College) and we recently connected when I found mathematical ideas in the poems in his collection Broken Symmetry  (Wayne State […]

December 28, 2014

5:24 PM | Results of Hold On… How Many Copies? Contest
As predicted, I did not meet my self-imposed deadline of posting the winner of the Hold On… How Many Copies? contest on Saturday. But I think you’ll agree I have a good excuse. When I woke at my in-laws on Saturday morning, my wife and kids surprised me with the pronouncement that we’d be spending […]

December 25, 2014

3:27 PM | A thousand Christmas trees
My email poem-a-day from from www.poets.org is "Christmas Trees" by Robert Frost (1874-1963); this 1916 poem includes some calculations and reflections based on the line:       “A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.” Frost's poem has provoked me to thoughts of inflation and conservation; for the full poem, follow the link given with the title above.  And, if your time permits, go back to previous "Christmas" postings in this blog at these […]
1:10 AM | Twelve
Above is a gif of an interactive model of hyperbolic space tiled with 12 Days Dodecahedra. It’s part music video, part mathematical model, and all holiday cheer (or absolutely terrifying, depending on who you ask). At this point it seems obvious to me that one must tile hyperbolic space with right angle dodecahedra that have pictures […]

December 24, 2014

8:00 PM | Números de Friedman
Un número Friedman es un número entero positivo que puede ser escrita de alguna manera no trivial utilizando sus propios dígitos, junto con los símbolos + – × / ^ () y concatenación. Por ejemplo, 25 = 5 2 y 126 = ​​21 × 6. … Sigue leyendo →
12:52 PM | The gift of a poem
     In this holiday season of giving, sometimes the gifts are poems -- and sometimes mathy poems.  A few days ago, "Zero" by Robert Creeley (1926-2005) arrived in an email from Francisco José Craveiro de Carvalho, a Portuguese mathematician who loves poetry and has translated many math-related poems into his native language -- a seeker and finder of such poems who shares them with me.  (See also 23 October 2010 and 17 September 2013.)  At this time of […]

December 23, 2014

9:50 PM | Hold On… How Many Copies?
How many copies of Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks do you think sold last week? Make Your Prediction Here (Google Form)   Why would you want to make a prediction? Well, lots of reasons… Like the author (and readers) of this blog, you’re a math geek. You swoon at the sight of data. You’ve never met […]

December 20, 2014

8:00 PM | Técnicas de dibujo
Un esquema bien clasificado y ordenado sobre modos de dibujar, que no me resisto a publicar. A simple slideshow showcasing some line drawing techniques with a focus on the work of Vincent Van Gogh & Albrecht Durer. en presentación linedrawingthecniques. http://curkovicartunits.pbworks.com/w/page/11306896/%22Make%20You%20Mark%22%20-%20Line%20Drawings … Sigue leyendo →
2:02 PM | The Girl Who Loved Triangles
     I found this poem by Michigan poet Jackie Bartley when I was browsing old issues of albatross (edited by Richard Smyth) and she has give me permission to post it here.  Like Guillevic (see, for example, this earlier post), Bartley has found personalities in geometric figures.To the Girl Who Loved Triangles     by Jackie Bartley          Triangulation:  Technique for establishing the distance […]
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