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. »
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. »
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… »
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?… »
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.
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.
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. »
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.
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… »
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. »
This looped and knotted section of cords is not only beautiful, it's also a 500-year old mathematical tool. »
What is a kilobit equal to? The answer is 1,000 bits, but some people say it should really be 1,024. »
The solution to this classic puzzle is that it's impossible to solve. But can you explain why it's impossible? »
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. »
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 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. »
When people describe a story as being told in a "by the numbers" fashion, that's usually regarded as bad. But in a talk at Oxford University the other day, scientist Marcus du Sautoy argued that a great mathematical proof is a lot like a story. In fact, a really great proof is like Frodo's journey in Lord of the Rings… »