Category Archives: Math


This year we give thanks for a technique that is central to both physics and mathematics: the Fourier transform. (We’ve previously given thanks for the Standard Model Lagrangian, Hubble’s Law, the Spin-Statistics Theorem, conservation of momentum, effective field theory, the … Continue reading

Posted in Math, Science | 26 Comments

Discovering Tesseracts

I still haven’t seen Interstellar yet, but here’s a great interview with Kip Thorne about the movie-making process and what he thinks of the final product. (For a very different view, see Phil Plait [update: now partly recanted].) One of … Continue reading

Posted in Math, Time, Words | 35 Comments

Poker Is a Game of Skill

Via the Seriously, Science? blog comes what looks like a pretty bad paper: Is poker a game of skill or chance? A quasi-experimental study Gerhard Meyer, Marc von Meduna, Tim Brosowski, Tobias Hayer Due to intensive marketing and the rapid … Continue reading

Posted in Entertainment, Math | 30 Comments

Smooth Life

Chances are you’ve seen Conway’s Game of Life, the checkerboard cellular automaton featuring stable structures, replicators, and all sorts of cool designs. (Plenty of implementations available online.) It’s called “life” because the processes of movement and evolution bear some tangential … Continue reading

Posted in Math | 8 Comments

Time and Space, Remapped

A short two-person dance, with a twist. Or more accurately, a shear: time is remapped so that there is a delay that increases as you move from the top of the frame down to the bottom. Or in math: (x’, … Continue reading

Posted in Entertainment, Math | 6 Comments

Dara O Briain School of Hard Sums

This is an actual TV show in the UK (based on a Japanese program), broadcast on a channel called Dave. In it, Dara O Briain and mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, along with special comedy guests, take on math puzzles (and … Continue reading

Posted in Math, Media | 19 Comments

How Probability Works

From Barry Greenstein’s insightful poker book, Ace on the River: Someone shows you a coin with a head and a tail on it. You watch him flip it ten times and all ten times it comes up heads. What is … Continue reading

Posted in Entertainment, Math | 35 Comments

Calculus Day!

Yes, I know, I’m not very good at this hiatus thing. But there is important news that needs to be promulgated widely — the news of calculus. No more will innocent citizens cower in fear at the thought of derivatives … Continue reading

Posted in Math, Science and the Media, Words | 18 Comments

Pie Are Square; Oil Spills Are Round

Ah, not this one again. The folks at Iglu Cruises have put together a helpful infographic to explain various features of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (via Deep Sea News). Here’s the bit where they compare the recent spill … Continue reading

Posted in Math | 31 Comments

Non-Normalizable Probability Measures for Fun and Profit

Here’s a fun logic puzzle (see also here; originally found here). There’s a family resemblance to the Monty Hall problem, but the basic ideas are pretty distinct. An eccentric benefactor holds two envelopes, and explains to you that they each … Continue reading

Posted in Math | 66 Comments