Möbius bubble wrap

This week’s New York Times Magazine has an article called “The Year in Ideas.” One feature in the article is “Bubble Wrap That Never Ends,” by Vanessa Gregory. She writes about the popular Japanese keychain called Mugen Puchi Puchi. It has six small buttons on it, and pressing them simulates popping bubble wrap. The keychain…

KenKen

I just discovered a cool new Sudoku-like game called KenKen. A KenKen board is an nxn grid, and the object is to place the numbers 1 to n in each square subject to the following rules. Do not repeat a number in any row or column. The numbers in each heavily outlined set of squares,…

A new continued fraction for pi

I love continued fractions. The golden ratio: The square root of 2: The base of the natural logarithm: Pi: In the most recent American Mathematical Monthly (December 2008) Thomas J. Pickett and Ann Coleman, in their note “Another Continued Fraction for ,” present the following beautiful continued fraction in which the terms down the diagonal…

Four color theorem applets

The four color theorem is a beloved result with a long and fascinating history. The theorem says that four colors suffice to color any map so that no two bordering regions are the same color. The conjecture was made in 1852 by Francis Guthrie. After many, many failed proofs, the conjecture was finally put to…

Twittering Division by Zero

I’ve been on Twitter for a few months, posting unimportant details about my life. But I’ve decided to repurpose that service and make it another outlet for my Division by Zero blog. In case you are not aware, Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows you to publish posts (“tweets”) of up to 140 characters at…

Secrets of my success

Here are the five things I need to be a productive mathematician. 1. Time to think 2. Time to think 3. LATEX (I find most of my errors while typing my work) 4. Someone to talk to (it is great having a collaborator) 5. Coffee (I have no memory of not liking the taste of…

A solution for tight budgets?

All educators face challenges during these troubling economic times. The USA Today has an article about one teacher’s solution: Ads on tests add up for teacher.

Phone number fail

Our college has an (expensive) automated alert system. If there is an emergency on campus, then this system will broadcast news and warnings to all members of the campus community via telephone, cell phone, text messaging, email, etc. (I don’t think they’re set up for Twitter yet.) They sent one of these alerts today because…