Catching up on some reading: Dyson’s birds and frogs

The semester’s over and I’ve been cleaning off my desk. I found an old issue of the Notices of the AMS (February 2009) with a bookmark in it. It was Freeman Dyson‘s Einstein Lecture entitled “Birds and Frogs.” Here are some good quotes from it. He opens with: Some mathematicians are birds, others are frogs….

Legendre who?

In Chapter 10 of my book, Euler’s Gem, I give Adrien-Marie Legendre‘s beautiful proof of Euler’s polyhedron formula: for any (convex) polyhedron with V vertices, E edges, and F faces, V-E+F=2. His use of spherical geometry to prove the theorem is extremely elegant. On page 88 I include the portrait of Legendre shown at right….

The US does not produce enough mathematical stars

The New York Times has an article today, “Math Skills Suffer in U.S., Study Finds“, which announces an upcoming article in the Notices of the AMS by Janet Mertz, Jonathan Kane, Joseph Gallian, and Titu Andreescu. The Times writes: The United States is failing to develop the math skills of both girls and boys, especially…