NAA: Counting on Monsters

28 September 2010

A book recommendation for the young mathematician (grade 1-8) in your life.

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NAA: “The Impossible” and “Infinity”: Two Outstanding Books on Math

28 September 2010

Two new entries on my list of all-time favorite math books.

Permalink: “The Impossible” and “Infinity”: Two Outstanding Books on Math


NAA: Similarity and the “Right” Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem

24 September 2010

Today on Not About Apples, an unusual take on an old favorite.

Permalink: Similarity and the “Right” Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem


Why I Roll Invisible Dice

24 September 2010

If you’ve ever been in my office (my official office in the math department, I mean, not the coffeeshop which I affectionately refer to as my “Fenton office”), you know that I have lots of stuff. Decks of cards of every shape and size, all sorts of dice, Rubik’s cubes and variations, etc. And if you’ve ever sat in on one of my math classes, you know how often I’ll lead with an example involving a game or a thought experiment involving rolling dice, dealing cards, or counting something.

And if you know both of those things, you’re probably wondering why I almost never bring any visual aids. I roll imaginary dice, I carefully shuffle imaginary cards.  Even when I’m wearing my corduroy jacket (which always has at least one deck of cards in the inside pocket), I don’t use them.  I pantomime.

Why?

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NAA Link: Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Proofiness’ : NPR

19 September 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Proofiness’ : NPR.

Clearly, I need to buy and read this book.  By analogy with Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” (the quality of stuff that feels true in the gut), Charles Seife coins “proofiness” to describe statements that feel like evidence, that feel decisive.  The author’s story about the museum tour guide (by far the best story I know involving the number 65,000,058) is a personal favorite, one that I tell often.  This is really a story about how the human mind intuitively deals with numbers and numerical information, and the intuitive weaknesses that exposes.