CTK Insights

Archive for the 'Math in news' Category

17 Apr

The Turing Test

TweetIn a 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence the British mathematician Alan Turing came up with what is now known as the Turing test. Turing set out to answer the question of whether machines can think. As a practical substitute for that difficult question, Turing inquired whether machines can exhibit intelligent behavior. But how one […]

24 Jan

Finding a Parallelogram in 3D

TweetImagine a pyramid with no symmetries or regularities whatsoever. To construct a pyramid like that, pick a plane, four arbitrary points in the plane and one point outside. The lines (or rays) joining the latter to the four points in the plane serve as the edges of a slanted and likely irregular pyramid. However, the […]

16 Dec

Mathematics and Physics in the car market

TweetGoing through the old issues of the Mathematics Magazine, I have stumbled on the following note by Dawn Lindquist (Vol. 78, No. 3, Jun., 2005, p. 245) Mathematicians in the market for a car today have many choices. While analytic geometers might be drawn to the Ford Focus and algebraists may assume the Isuzu Axiom […]

10 Aug

When am I ever going to use this? Why do we need to learn this?

TweetProbably every math teacher has the experience of facing such questions; most likely the students who asked them were not looking for the answers as arguments to study mathematics, but rather in support of their conviction that the effort is not necessary. Most of the answers teachers give perfectly serve this purpose. I wrote about […]

12 Apr

Perverse logic

TweetThe famous British philosopher, mathematician, and author, the Nobel Prize winner, Bertrand Russell was known for his acrimonious wit and sharp observations. One of his oft-quoted pronouncements - when is taken out of context - is a persistent cause of embarrassment to math educators and mathematicians. ... mathematics may be defined as the subject in […]

14 Mar

What Is It About π?

TweetMarch 14 is practically an official π day. Why is that? March is the fourth month of the widely accepted Gregorian calendar and, not incidentally, π ≈ 3.14. There are dissenting voices that claim July 22 as a more appropriate day for the celebration because 22/7 (≈ 3.14286) is a better approximation to the real […]

21 Jan

Auxetic Behavior and Tesselation

TweetJohn Sharp did this again. He sent me a link to a curious piece of information. Nearly a century ago, German physicist Woldemar Voigt discovered strange phenomenon in iron pyrite crystals (also known as Fool's Gold). His research suggested that the crystals somehow grew thicker when stretched. Voigt could not explain the strange behavior (he […]

28 Nov

The Wisdom of Inflection Points

TweetGoing through a stack of math magazines collecting dust at a corner of my home office, I came across a September 17, 2008 quote from the future Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally (Am Math Monthly, v 116, n 4, p 341. Thanks to Pamela Pierce): Remember your calculus class, you learned about […]

09 Nov

Naturally Random Numbers

TweetAlbert Einstein's dictum "God does not play dice" is a concise expression of determinism - the belief that the past fully determines the future. Had it been possible to write down all the required equations and feasible to solve them, we would have had a complete picture of the future. Quantum mechanics recognized randomness as […]

27 Oct

Cannibalism makes grasshoppers stick together!

TweetThe latest Maths by Email newsletter from CSIRO Education has brought some remarkable research news; and mathematics is at the center of it. Scientists from around the world have spent many years researching locusts. A lot of the research had looked at what locusts like to eat. Locusts will eat almost anything they can find, […]

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