Following Melania’s now-infamous speech from the Republican Convention, a Canadian physicist has calculated the odds of those words and phrases appearing in the same order as Michelle Obama’s speech eight years ago. Looking at his answer, let’s just say it would be a coincidence of cosmic proportions.
Rock and mountain climbers rely on strong, yet elastic ropes to keep them safe should they happen to fall. Now mathematicians at the University of Utah have come up with an equation to design an ideal climbing rope—one that would be safer and more durable. They described this perfect rope, and a promising class of…
If you’ve ever been frustrated at your inability to complete a level of Super Mario Brothers, here’s a little something to cheer you up. Computer scientists have demonstrated that solving a level in the popular video game is tantamount to solving some of the hardest problems in computational science.
Mathematicians have discovered a surprising pattern in the expression of prime numbers, revealing a previously unknown “bias” to researchers.
More than a thousand years before the first telescopes, Babylonian astronomers tracked the motion of planets across the night sky using simple arithmetic. But a newly translated text reveals that these ancient stargazers also used a far more advanced method, one that foreshadows the development of calculus over a…
Rumors are swirling that Opeyemi Enoch, a professor from the Federal University of Oye Ekiti in Nigeria, has solved the Riemann Hypothesis, a problem that has vexed mathematicians for over 150 years. Too bad it’s not true.
You bid, you win, you pay the amount that you bid. That’s the rule for auctions, right? And that’s why you want to make the lowest bid you think will win. One type of auction, though, takes the guesswork out of it with economic theory.
Technically speaking, pianos tuned to coventional 12-tone equal temperament aren’t actually in perfect tune. A new video from MinutePhysics explains the math behind this musical oddity, and why in the case of pianos, close enough is good enough.
Until recently, there were just 14 known convex pentagons (nonregular, five-sided shapes with outward-pointing angles) that could “tile the plane” (be arranged with flush sides on a flat surface, with no gaps or overlaps). But last month, some thirty years since the 14th was discovered, a 15th was identified.
Diophantes was a Hellenistic Greek mathematician who lived around 200 AD. His claim to fame comes from substituting symbols for numbers and operations in equations, thus creating algebra, but everything else we know about his life comes from a single algebraic riddle.
Your cousin’s Facebook friends are probably going nuts over this image that claims to show how the early history of Arabic geometric design informs how we write numerals today. “Each figure contains its own number of corners and angles,” reads the text. That’s half-true of the drawings in the image. The rest is…
We all know that numbers can help us understand the beauty of nature. But in this excerpt from the new book A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek, he shows how it goes a lot deeper than that. Did the ancient mathematician Pythagoras know something we don’t?…
There is a lie running through your cookbooks. No, it’s not that you can substitute crackers for apples in your pie and no one will know the difference (though, come on, let’s be decent to each other, folks: Knock that off.) The lie goes much deeper than all that, and is the source of what I call the Cookbook Paradox.
After dividing 1 by 999-quattuordecillion (a number that’s 48 integers long), you get the Fibonacci sequence presented in neat, 24-digit strings. Here’s why that happens.
A number of math problems have recently garnered considerable attention, but the inability to solve these problems quickly is not indicative of a person’s overall math skill, nor should it prompt a crisis of confidence about the state of American math aptitude.
This spring, an 80-year-old Japanese chalk company went out of business. Nobody, perhaps, was as sad to see the company go as mathematicians who had become obsessed with Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk, the so-called “Rolls Royce of chalk.”
The 24 major island groups of the Pacific Ocean were settled by early Austronesians between 3,500 and 900 years ago, but little is known about how these isolated islands were colonized. Now, researchers have used epidemiological modeling to devise some compelling new ideas about how it was done.
Check out this delightful video of math teacher Paul Lockhart—author of Measurement, "a permanent solution to math phobia by introducing us to mathematics as an artful way of thinking and living"—waxing lyrical about the splendors of mathematics and mathematical thinking, and why "the mathematical question is always…
For almost 200 years, Euler's conjecture reigned in mathematics unchecked. Then, a paper came out that turned the whole thing on its head... and it did it all in just two sentences.
This looped and knotted section of cords is not only beautiful, it's also a 500-year old mathematical tool.