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. »
‘They will never make a movie about him. He doesn’t have a troubled life. He has a family, and they seem happy, and he’s usually smiling.’’ A student describes the “super normal” Terry Tao, one of the world’s greatest mathematicians, in a recent NYT Mag longread, which, ICYMI, is outstanding. Read it here.
This week’s puzzle is not about gravity, though you’d be excused for suspecting as much. After all, when most people read “Isaac Newton” and “tree” in the same sentence, they think also of falling apples. But this week’s puzzle, which is widely attributed to Newton, is actually an exercise in orderly arboriculture. »
For the first time since 1994, a team of top-tier mathematics students from around the United States has taken first place at the International Mathematical Olympiad, a global competition that this year included teams from more than 100 countries. »
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.
I’ve come to believe that mathematics, as an investigative science, as a practical discipline and as a creative art, shares many characteristics with cookery. It’s not just spaghetti alla carbonara, it’s the whole business of inventing dishes and preparing them. It’s an analogy with many parts, and it has consequences. »
Most people will probably remember the times tables from primary school quizzes. There might be patterns in some of them (the simple doubling of the 2 times table) but others you just learnt by rote. And it was never quite clear just why it was necessary to know what 7 x 9 is off the top of your head. »
This week’s puzzle puts you at the mercy of an unjust torturer. Explaining why he is unjust can help you make sense of a daunting mathematical proof that last year made headlines for being “bigger than Wikipedia.” »
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. »
How long would it take to fall through Earth? For years, physics students have been told the answer is 42 minutes. But a new calculation, published in the latest issue of The American Journal of Physics, gives a more accurate travel time of 38 minutes. Over at Science, Adrian Cho unpacks the new equation. »
The solution to this classic puzzle is that it's impossible to solve. But can you explain why it's impossible? »