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 […]

October 20, 2014

8:24 PM | Martin Gardner collected poems
     Last week the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) had a special program honoring Martin Gardner (1914-2010); tomorrow (October 21) is the 100th anniversary of his birth.   The shelving in the MAA meeting room displayed copies of many of Gardner's approximately one hundred books.  However, none of the books displayed were books of poetry and, indeed, Gardner referred to himself as "an occasional versifier" but not a poet.  Nonetheless he helped to […]

October 15, 2014

2:55 PM | Poetry Reading 1-11-15 at JMM in San Antonio
You are invited to a poetry reading sponsored by the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics at the 2015 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM)Gonzalez Convention Center   Room 205  San Antonio, TexasSunday, January 11, 2015, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.      All poets who write of mathematics and all who are interested in mathematical poetry are invited. Join the gathering to share poems and to enjoy the company of like-minded poetic-math people!  The reading is […]
12:00 AM | No-Rules NASCAR
No-Rules NASCAR If you stripped away all the rules of car racing and had a contest which was simply to get a human being around a track 200 times as fast as possible, what strategy would win? Let's say the racer has to survive. Hunter Freyer About 90 minutes. There are lots of ways you could build your vehicle—an electric car,[1]With wheels designed to dig into the pavement on turns. a rocket sled, or a carriage that runs along a rail on the track—but in each case, it's pretty […]

October 10, 2014

10:10 PM | Taken out of context . . .
Sometimes good lines fit so well into their poems that their individual merits go unrecognized.  And then, taken out of context, they can lead lives of their own.  Here is a start for a collection of such lines.From Poets.org here are two lines from "Ceriserie" by Joshua Clover:           Mathematics: Everyone rolling dice and flinging Fibonacci, going to the opera, counting everything.       Fire: The number […]
12:00 PM | Infinite Integer Triangles
Here’s an interesting question. Given the side of a triangle with integer length, what is the set of all points in the plane for which the other two sides will also have integer lengths? And by interesting, I mean that the answer wasn’t immediately obvious to me. So I drew a segment 5 units long […]

October 08, 2014

3:38 PM | Love Physics
It turns out that one of the disadvantages of a long-term blog with lots of worthy material is that sometimes I lose track of fine work that I want to post.  And sometimes I find it again.  This morning I came across this poem by California conservationist Richard Retecki.     Love Physics     by Richard Retecki     equal forces     oppositely directed     canceled to zero  […]
12:00 AM | Into the Sun
Into the Sun When I was about 8 years old, shoveling snow on a freezing day in Colorado, I wished that I could be instantly transported to the surface of the Sun, just for a nanosecond, then instantly transported back. I figured this would be long enough to warm me up but not long enough to harm me. What would actually happen? AJ, Kansas City Believe it or not, this wouldn't even warm you. The temperature of the surface of the Sun is about 5,800 K,[1]Or °C. When temperatures start […]

October 04, 2014

2:01 PM | Can poetry change the climate for frogs?
      Poems affect our spirits as well as our minds. And Split This Rock is looking for poems that protest and witness, world-changing poems.  Go here for information about their Eighth Annual Poetry Contest (with submission deadline November 1, 2014).     Here in this blog, as I present connections between poetry and mathematics, I provide some poems of protest and advocacy.  I advocate attention to problems of climate change -- to keep our […]
1:58 PM | January - September -- 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. Sept 28  Journal of Math in the Arts features PoetrySept 23  Clearing the Air with a PoemSept 20  Marching for ClimateSept 15  […]

October 02, 2014

10:20 AM | I had some fun weeks collaborating with Kyoko who runs the...
I had some fun weeks collaborating with Kyoko who runs the fabulous Link Collective. Now we both are super-proud to present two geometric textile designs: Contemporary graphics traditionally hand-printed on awesome fabrics in Japan. Both designs are available in two sizes: a larger scarf that doubles as a bag or wrapping, and a smaller size for using it as a pocket square. So there is some geometric fashion statement for both ladies and gents! See it all on the Link Collective website ⟶

October 01, 2014

12:00 AM | Antimatter
Antimatter What if everything was antimatter, EXCEPT Earth? Sean Gallagher This one doesn't end well for us. But—unlike most scenarios involving the word "antimatter"—the end is surprisingly slow and drawn-out. The whole universe is matter, as far as we can tell. No one is sure why there's more antimatter than matter, since the laws of physics are pretty symmetrical, and so there's no reason to expect there to be more of one than the other.[1]Although when it […]

September 28, 2014

11:06 PM | Eat, Sleep, Do Math!
The Golden Rule of Food Shopping: Never shop for groceries when you’re hungry. Corollary for Mattress Shopping: Never shop for a mattress when you’re tired. When buying a mattress, Consumer Reports recommends that you lie down on “lots of mattresses” in the store and spend at least 15 minutes on each mattress — five minutes lying on […]
6:46 PM | Journal of Math in the Arts features Poetry
A special issue of the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts entitled "Poetry and Mathematics" is now available online at this link.  An introduction by guest editor Sarah Glaz is available (for free download) here.   In this opening piece, one of the items that Glaz includes her own translation of a math-puzzle poem from Bhaskara's (1114-1185) Lilavati that is charming.  I offer it here:        Ten times the square root of a […]

September 24, 2014

12:00 AM | Visit Every State
Visit Every State How fast could you visit all 50 states? —as discussed by Stephen Von Worley on Data Pointed This week's article is a little different. Instead of answering one of your questions, I'm going to look at someone else's answer to a question, and how thinking about that answer raised some new questions of my own. Eventually, the whole thing sucked me down a rabbit hole of calculations from which I barely escaped. In the summer of 2012, the blog Twelve Mile Circle […]

September 23, 2014

9:15 PM | Clearing the Air with a Poem
     Every poem has a climate -- a collection of emotional tones that overlay and underlay its words. Today -- as the U.N. meets in NY to discuss the future climate of our planet -- I have been looking for mathy poems with a climate of advocacy, verses that let the world know that we must, soon and vigorously, take action to keep our earth habitable.      One of the things I found is a poem (involving a couple of numbers and mathy words) by Simon […]

September 22, 2014

11:56 AM | Periodically Crude
Old farts will know the answer to this old trivia question: What two letters do not appear on a phone? And if your phone still looked like this… then it would be a reasonable question. But phones don’t look like that anymore. They look like this… in which case, it’s a really dumb question. (The Q […]

September 21, 2014

12:57 AM | Marching for Climate
     Today I want to call attention to the growing global concern about climate change accentuated by the United Nations Climate Summit that opens September 23. Tomorrow (September 21) I will travel on a 6 AM bus  from Silver Spring to NYC to be part of the People's Climate March.  It is said that more than 500 buses of protesters are heading to New York. 29 marching bands will provide the soundtrack. 26 city blocks are being cordoned off for the march's […]

September 19, 2014

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

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 […]

September 15, 2014

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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