# If It Weren't for This Equation, You Wouldn't Be Here

This is Shannon’s information theory, and it’s the equation that makes data compression possible. Without it, you wouldn’t be reading this article online right now.

This is Shannon’s information theory, and it’s the equation that makes data compression possible. Without it, you wouldn’t be reading this article online right now.

Space exploration, whether it be through telescopes watching the skies or probes sent to far away planets, is the culmination of thousands of people’s work, collaborating together to solve the innumerable problems that arise when you try to reach beyond what seems possible.

There is a lie running through your cookbooks. No, it’s not that you can substitute crackers for apples in your pie and no one will know the difference (though, come on, let’s be decent to each other, folks: Knock that off.) The lie goes much deeper than all that, and is the source of what I call the Cookbook Paradox.

This spring, an 80-year-old Japanese chalk company went out of business. Nobody, perhaps, was as sad to see the company go as mathematicians who had become obsessed with Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk, the so-called “Rolls Royce of chalk.”

When pouring tea, do you add the tea first or the milk first? If you think it can’t possibly matter, you’re unfortunately wrong — as Dr. Ronald Fisher proved at an innocuous tea party where he conducted an experiment that changed statistical science forever.

If you thought the Singaporean logic puzzle was tough, brace yourself for this math problem that was originally set for eight-year-old students in the Vietnamese town of Bao Loc. It’s apparently even stumped someone with a doctorate in economics with mathematics.

In a charming TEDx talk at Binghamton University last year, complexity expert Hannah Fry applies her math skills to romantic relationships. Watch as she explains how pattern theory may help you get dates, how to use optimal stopping theory to pick a spouse, and how an understanding of negativity thresholds can help…

What is a kilobit equal to? The answer is 1,000 bits, but some people say it should really be 1,024.

No profession is free from the kind of miserable jerks who ruin it for everyone else. No intelligence level is either. When great intelligence, prestige careers, and big egos come together, things get ugly. Johann Bernoulli was, as a person, *very* ugly.

Last night, scientists from around the world gathered at Harvard's iconic Sanders Theatre for the "24rd First Annual" Ig Nobel Awards, the wonderfully peculiar annual awards ceremony that recognizes those achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.

Published in the May 1983 issue of the journal *Mathematics Teacher*, this amazing math problem challenges students to locate the USS Enterprise's missing first officer—in 50 minutes or less—using compass and straightedge. Are you up to the task, cadet?

Sometimes, even the great, pivotal figures in science don't get their due. In today's very special "Ask a Physicist," I'll introduce you to Emmy Noether, one of the most important thinkers you might not have heard of.