Chalk, for the Mathematician

What is there to say about chalk and mathematicians? Much of what there is, is said in this paper: “Chalk: Materials and concepts in mathematics research,” Michael J. Barany [pictured here] Donald MacKenzie, in: C. Coopmans, M. Lynch, J. Vertesi and S. Woolgar (Eds) Representation in Scientific Practice Revisited, 2014, pp. 107–130 (Cambridge, MA: The MIT […]

A grave puzzling incident in Britain

The Chester (UK) Chronicle reports, on October 17, 2013: A grieving family is upset after being ordered to remove personalised inscriptions from their loved one’s headstone comprising a Sudoku puzzle and mathematical equation. Widow Angela Robinson of Barton Road, Farndon, is prepared to fight Farndon Parish Council all the way over its request that engravings […]

He’s the “k”, and has great Erdos and Bacon numbers

“He is the ‘k’ in G. W. Peck, a pseudonym for a group of six mathematicians,” says Wikipedia, which goes on to say: Kleitman has coauthored at least six papers with Erdős, giving him an Erdős number of 1. He was a math advisor and extra for the film Good Will Hunting.[5] Since Minnie Driver of Good Will Hunting appeared in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon, Kleitman […]

Colorful Russian Mathematicians: V.I. Arnold

Russia is an efficient producer of colorful mathematicians. Leonid Polterovich wrote an appreciation of one of them, Vladimir Igorevich Arnold [pictured here]. It’s called “Remembering V.I. Arnold, 1937-2010.” and begins: “Those who know the material will not learn anything new, and those who do not know it will not understand anything.” —V.I. Arnold about a badly written […]

Yet another mathematician commits violence

Don Troop in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports yet another case of a mathematician committing a shocking act of violence: Math Prof Clobbers Gopher Mascot The year in college sports has brought us both mascot-on-mascot violence and mascot-on-fan violence. Last weekend the tables turned when a University of Minnesota fan landed a couple jabs […]

When Hairdressers Were Computers

Some mathematicians pay attention to hairdressers more than other mathematicians do. Two modern scholars focused their attention very differently when they wrote about history’s most famous numerico-tonsorial collaboration. In 1784, mathematicians joined forces with hairdressers on a scale probably never attempted before or since. A century and a half later, Raymond Clare Archibald looked back […]

Martin Gardner and mathematicians

Martin Gardner — who died yesterday — had a hand in starting the career of a great, colorful mathematician (and, famously, in helping many other mathematicians and their work become better known and loved). Behold the story of Persi Diaconis, as told some years ago in a Stanford University press release: With bare-bones mathematical skills […]