# Why Pianos Can't Be Perfectly Tuned

Technically speaking, pianos tuned to coventional 12-tone equal temperament aren’t actually in perfect tune. A new video from MinutePhysics explains the math behind this musical oddity, and why in the case of pianos, close enough is good enough.

# Solving an "Unsolvable" Math Problem

Until recently, there were just 14 known convex pentagons (nonregular, five-sided shapes with outward-pointing angles) that could “tile the plane” (be arranged with flush sides on a flat surface, with no gaps or overlaps). But last month, some thirty years since the 14th was discovered, a 15th was identified.

# This Mathematical Riddle Explains All We Know of the Father of Algebra

Diophantes was a Hellenistic Greek mathematician who lived around 200 AD. His claim to fame comes from substituting symbols for numbers and operations in equations, thus creating algebra, but everything else we know about his life comes from a single algebraic riddle.

# No, This Viral Image Does Not Explain the History of Arabic Numerals

Your cousin’s Facebook friends are probably going nuts over this image that claims to show how the early history of Arabic geometric design informs how we write numerals today. “Each figure contains its own number of corners and angles,” reads the text. That’s half-true of the drawings in the image. The rest is…

# What Did Pythagoras Mean By "All Things Are Number"?

We all know that numbers can help us understand the beauty of nature. But in this excerpt from the new book A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek, he shows how it goes a lot deeper than that. Did the ancient mathematician Pythagoras know something we don’t?

# How to Bake Pi Uses Math to Solve the Cookbook Paradox

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.

# Dividing 1 by This Big Number Gives You the Fibonacci Sequence. Why?

After dividing 1 by 999-quattuordecillion (a number that’s 48 integers long), you get the Fibonacci sequence presented in neat, 24-digit strings. Here’s why that happens.

# Don't Freak Out if You Can't Solve a Math Problem That's Gone Viral

A number of math problems have recently garnered considerable attention, but the inability to solve these problems quickly is not indicative of a person’s overall math skill, nor should it prompt a crisis of confidence about the state of American math aptitude.

# Why Mathematicians Are Hoarding This Special Type of Japanese Chalk

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.”

# New Simulation Shows How The Pacific Islands May Have Been Colonized

The 24 major island groups of the Pacific Ocean were settled by early Austronesians between 3,500 and 900 years ago, but little is known about how these isolated islands were colonized. Now, researchers have used epidemiological modeling to devise some compelling new ideas about how it was done.

# The Whys, Wherefores, and Wonders of Mathematics

Check out this delightful video of math teacher Paul Lockhart—author of Measurement, "a permanent solution to math phobia by introducing us to mathematics as an artful way of thinking and living"—waxing lyrical about the splendors of mathematics and mathematical thinking, and why "the mathematical question is always…

# How Two Sentences Overturned 200 Years Of Mathematical Precedent

For almost 200 years, Euler's conjecture reigned in mathematics unchecked. Then, a paper came out that turned the whole thing on its head... and it did it all in just two sentences.

# These Knotted Cords Are A Sophisticated Ancient Counting Tool

This looped and knotted section of cords is not only beautiful, it's also a 500-year old mathematical tool.

# Is A Kilobit 1,000 Or 1,024 Bits?: A Mathematical Debate Explained

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

# This Week's Puzzle Is Impossible. Can You Explain Why?

The solution to this classic puzzle is that it's impossible to solve. But can you explain why it's impossible?

# How Will You Celebrate The Pi Day Of The Century?

Happy Pi Day! How are you celebrating the transcendental, irrational mathematical constant central derived from circles on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53? For me, it's going to be giggling over physicists engaging in an epic chalk battle, and devouring an apple-ginger pie.

# Why Some Things Get Better After A Disaster

Normally, the things around us become damaged after experiencing an unexpected disruption or shock. But there are aspects to our world that actually get better after a setback. Here's why things that don't kill us can sometimes make us stronger.

The Powerball lottery jackpot soared over \$500 million last week, leading bright and broke minds everywhere to wonder if math could be deployed to get ahold of some of that cheddar. Here's a handy, graphics-heavy strategy guide ... and hey, invite us to your mansion party when you win, won't ya?

# The Wrinkles On Raisins Can Teach Us A Lot About Fingerprints

The humble raisin doesn't usually inspire much thought (beyond pondering the ethics of their occasional chocolate chip impersonation), but scientists at MIT have spent a lot of time modeling just how raisins wrinkle. And their findings may change how we understand the way fingerprints form.

# Use These Tips And Never Lose At Rock Paper Scissors Again

Your days of never getting shotgun are over, thanks to this new video from Numberphile that breaks down the best strategies for winning at Rock, Paper, Scissors.