Fractals on NOVA

I was shocked yesterday afternoon. I turned on the television to see what was on for my kids (PBS, of course) only to see, not Bob the Builder or Word World, but the Cantor set being constructed right before my eyes. It turned out that it was a new NOVA special called Hunting the Hidden…

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…

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…

Flatland and other videos about dimension

Not long ago I watched the DVD of Flatland staring Martin Sheen as the voice of Arthur Square. The movie is based on Edwin Abbott Abbott’s 1884 book of the same title. Flatland is a story of polygons living in a two dimensional world and A. Square’s discovery of the third dimension. It is also…

They Might be Giants sing about polygons

Here is a fun video from They Might be Giants. It is from their children’s CD/DVD Here Come The 123s, the follow up to Here Come the ABCs. The song is called “Nonagon”. (I feel bad for Heptagon, who apparently wasn’t invited to the party.)

Wobbly tables and the intermediate value theorem

Tomorrow I’ll be introducing the intermediate value theorem (IVT) to my calculus class.  Recall the statement of the IVT: if is a continuous function on the interval and is between and , then there exists a value such that .  In other words, achieves all of the intermediate values between  and . This is a very underappreciated theorem…

Line Rider Calculus

The first time I saw Line Rider in action, I knew I should use it for a calculus class, but I didn’t know how.  Recently 360 wrote about using Line Rider in a calculus course, and so did  Teaching College Math, who suggested creating a video of the action using the screen capture software Jing. This week’s topic in…

Topological claymation

For my first post, I thought I’d post a couple of short videos that I made earlier this year.  The inspiration was the following sequence of pictures I put in my book illustrating what I call the “double torus clothesline trick.” It seemed like everyone I showed it to had trouble following the sequence of…