A picture of frustration: Sam Loyd’s 15 puzzle

Mathematics, whether it be calculus homework or cutting-edge research, can be very challenging. Haven’t we all faced a problem that we struggle with for hours or days? The answer, we know, or we hope, is within our grasp—but we just can’t reach it. In moments like that I always think of this picture from the…

Symmetry groups of viral doilies

Are you looking for interesting examples to use in your abstract algebra course to illustrate planar objects with rotational and reflective symmetries? Tired of the usual regular polygons and corporate logos. Already shown your class ambigrams? Feeling pressured to inject biology into your mathematics courses? Look no farther. My colleague sent me a link to the website…

The maypole braid group

Over the weekend I attended a May Day party thrown by one of my colleagues. During the party they had a traditional maypole dance. An example of a maypole dance is shown at left. A maypole is a tall pole with colorful ribbons attached to the top that are fanned out in a cone shape….