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Stories by Evelyn Lamb

Flexagon but Not Forgotten: Celebrating Martin Gardner's Birthday

October 21 is the anniversary of Martin Gardner's birth. Gardner (1914-2010) is a legend in recreational (and professional) mathematics circles. Although he had little mathematical training, his 1956-1981 Scientific American column "Mathematical Games" has had a huge impact on the way people view math...

October 19, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb
“Wikithon” Honors Ada Lovelace and Other Women in Science

“Wikithon” Honors Ada Lovelace and Other Women in Science

A Wikipedia edit-a-thon seems like a fitting tribute to the woman many consider to be the first computer programmer. October 16 is Ada Lovelace Day, an annual observation designed to raise awareness of the contributions of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines...

October 11, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb

Fractal Kitties Illustrate the Endless Possibilities for Julia Sets

For decades, scientists have been trying to solve a tough question: if the Internet runs out of cat pictures, can we generate more using advanced mathematics?* A paper posted on the arxiv earlier this month by mathematicians Kathryn Lindsey and the late William Thurston calms fears about "peak cat." In the paper, they describe a method of approximating the outline of a cat or other object using the Julia sets of polynomials.What’s a Julia set?...

September 26, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb

Are Chevy Volts Really Cheaper and Cleaner? A Case Study

Whenever Scientific American posts an article about electric cars, we see comments along the lines of "electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, so electric cars don't really reduce your carbon footprint, and the electricity is more expensive than gas anyway," possibly with more expletives...

September 21, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb

A "Just Right" Guitar

The MTV Video Music Awards are being broadcast tonight. Since 1984, these awards have recognized the top popular musicians, videos, and songs each year.

September 6, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb

The Mathematical Legacy of William Thurston (1946-2012)

William Thurston, whose geometrization conjecture changed the fields of geometry and topology and whose approach to mathematics and mathematics education has reverberated throughout the mathematical world, died on August 21 following a battle with cancer...

August 23, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb

Abandoning Algebra Is Not the Answer

In an opinion piece for the New York Times on Sunday, political science professor Andrew Hacker asks, "Is Algebra Necessary?" and answers, "No." It's not just algebra: geometry and calculus are on the chopping block, too...

July 30, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb

How Much Pi Do You Need?

I hope you're ready for your big Pi Approximation Day party tomorrow. You might have observed Pi Day on March 14. It gets its name from 3.14, the first three digits of the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter...

July 21, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb
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