The Moment of Pi, and Arts of Infinity

March 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

At 9:26am this Saturday, take a moment to pause from your bike ride, lazy cup of coffee, dog-walking in the park, or whatever you will be doing for the weekend morning.

It will be a special moment that comes only once in a century:

pi-day004

March 14, (20)15, 9:26:53:59…..

when the date and time digits match those of Pi, π, that mathematical constant expressing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, an irrational number that goes on forever.

While Pi Day has been celebrated on March 14 for 27 years, in honor of this mysterious number, the Pi Day this year is the most accurate of the entire 21st Century, an occurrence that will not roll around again until March 14, (21)15.
Although PI Day is not mainstream enough for merchants to have blasted promotions at you for two months, festivities are popping up around America on college campuses, at museums or other public venues to commemorate the occasion. March 14th being also Albert Einstein’s birthday, math and science lovers have even more reasons to spend this weekend in exuberance.

If you are not geeky enough to have planned on participating in such festivities, and are now at a loss for how to revel in this unique moment, I offer you the company of something quieter and more intimate; something sweet and beautiful, which you might appreciate for your children or for yourself.

Some Pi arts, and two stories of the creators behind them. « Read the rest of this entry »

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The Devastating Stereotype of the Artless Scientist

February 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Copyright StudioCanal and The Weinstein Company.

Copyright StudioCanal and The Weinstein Company.

Written by Dylan Nugent; posted on Medium on February 22nd, 2015

This article contains minor spoilers for the plots of The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, The Social Network, and A Beautiful Mind. Also containing these spoilers: history.

Tonight, two remarkably similar films compete to be crowned as the best film of 2014. Both The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything cover a young, middle class, white, British, Cambridge-educated mathematician as they make groundbreaking claims and discoveries while trying to overcome an obstacle put in their path.

A few weeks ago Graham Moore, the Oscar-nominated (update: Oscar-winning, congratulations to Mr. Moore!) screenwriter for The Imitation Game, wrote a rather excellent article on Medium about the difficulty of portraying brilliant characters fairly. In his article, Mr. Moore talks about the historical importance of Alan Turing’s accomplishments and the stereotypical lense through which genius often gets portrayed. It surprised me when reading his article that until I reached the part about how he hadwritten the film in question, I actually assumed it was a criticism of the film’s treatment of Alan Turing. « Read the rest of this entry »

A Mathematical Appreciation of Pasta

January 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

Pappadelle Tortellini

You may have never associated your ravioli, tortellini or fettucini with a compass or a ruler.  “Pasta by Design”, a special book with mouth-watering photographs laid out side by side with intricate equations and sophisticated drawings, would convince you that those utencils are as relevant to your beloved pasta as your fork, spoon or knife.

Here are a few sample pages from the book.  And these stories can tell you more about George L. Legendre, the architect who authored the book, and the mathematics in your pasta:

The book can be purchased from Thames and Hudson or Amazon.

Arthur C. Clarke Narrates Film on Mandelbrot’s Fractals; David Gilmour Provides the Soundtrack

January 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

From Open Culture

In 1995, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, the futurist and science fiction writer most well known for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, presented a television documentary on the 1980 discovery of the Mandelbrot Set (M-Set)Fractals: The Colors of Infinity brings us inside the world of fractal geometry, and soon enough we’re encountering what has been called “the thumbprint of God” and some of the most beautiful discoveries in the history of mathematics. Clarke narrates the 54-minute film, which includes interviews with important mathematicians, including Benoît Mandelbrot himself. David Gilmour, the guitarist for Pink Floyd, provides the soundtrack. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect combination. Fractals: The Colors of Infinity first appeared on Open Culture back in 2010, which means that a second viewing is long overdue. A book closely related to the film can be purchased here: The Colours of Infinity: The Beauty, The Power and the Sense of Fractals.

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