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Stories by 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

5 Sigma What's That?

Chances are, you heard this month about the discovery of a tiny fundamental physics particle that may be the long-sought Higgs boson. The phrase five-sigma was tossed about by scientists to describe the strength of the discovery...

July 17, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb

Scientists They re Just Like Us! They Don't Like Equations Either

I was a bit amused when I read a press release headline this week: "Scientists struggle with mathematical details." I expected the story to be about occasions when scientists had misunderstood, misinterpreted, or misapplied mathematical formulas in their published research, but instead the study in the June 25 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that research papers with lots of mathematical details are cited by other scholars less often than papers with fewer...

June 28, 2012 — Evelyn Lamb
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End of Summer Sale

End of Summer Sale