Job opening: Lucasian Chair of Mathematics

There is going to be a new faculty member in the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University. The current Lucasian Chair, Stephen Hawking, is turning 67 on January 8, 2009, and will reach the manditory retirement age. The chair was founded in 1663. Past holders of the chair are: 1664 Isaac Barrow 1669 Sir…

Calculus in politics

In his October 1996 editorial in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, “Mathematics Is an Edifice, Not a Toolbox,” Hugo Rossi wrote: In the fall of 1972 President Nixon announced that the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing. This was the first time a sitting president used the third derivative to advance his…

Advice for the budding mathematician of any age

Fields Medal winner Terry Tao put together a page on his blog titled Career Advice. He writes: Here is my collection of various pieces of advice on academic career issues in mathematics, roughly arranged by the stage of career at which the advice is most pertinent (though of course some of the advice pertains to…

E-Z Pass, speeding tickets, and the mean value theorem

On Monday I gave a lecture on the mean value theorem in my Calculus I class.  The mean value theorem says that if is a differentiable function and , then there exists a value such that . That is, the average rate of change of the function over must be achieved (as an instantaneous rate…

David Foster Wallace’s commencement address

Here is a commencement address given by the late David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College in 2005. It was recently reprinted in the Wall Street Journal. It is both inspirational and melancholy, especially after David Foster Wallace’s apparent death by suicide. He says: Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand…

Wooden binary adding machine

Last week I wrote about the Eyeballing game, an applet that tests your visual accuracy. It was created by a woodworker. Well, as I was perusing his website I found another neat mathematical creation. He made a binary marble adding machine. He created this video showing it in action. I encourage you to visit his…

Measuring an angle with a ruler

In the September 2008 issue of the College Mathematics Journal Travis Kowalski presents an neat way to measure an angle using a ruler.  He attributes the discovery to a student of his, Tor Bertin. Given an acute angle (the technique can be modified for obtuse angles), measure off a distance on each ray.  Then measure…

Shameless self-promotion

If you happen to be in or near Carlisle, PA tomorrow (Friday, October 17, 2008, 6:00-7:30), come by the Whistlestop Bookshop. I’ll be signing copies of my new book Euler’s Gem. Light refreshments will be served.

The eyeballing game

A friend of mine sent me a link to the Eyeballing Game, presumably because it looks mathematical. At a glance it does look like geometry, but really it is a test to see how well you can recognize when geometric images are correctly aligned. Here’s what the creator of the website (a woodworker) wrote: Some…

Lipson’s mathematical LEGO sculptures

Ξ at the the 360 blog just posted a neat LEGO fact: it is possible to snap together two 2×4 lego bricks in 24 different ways. Given six of these LEGOs it is possible to snap them together in 915,103,765 different ways! This inspired me to post a link to a cool website by Andrew Lipson….

Tao on political polls

Fields Medalist and mathematics blogger, Terrence Tao, has an interesting and timely post on political polls on his blog.

Einstein’s math

In a previous post I mentioned that I was hoping to write an article called Mythematics. The idea is that I will investigate famous mathematical myths and either give evidence that they are true or debunk them. One that I had on my radar was the myth that Albert Einstein was bad at math. I…