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The Other Half – Parable of the Polygons

Anna Haensch and Annie Rorem are the hosts of a new podcast, The Other Half. This is the second of two posts based on the first episode, about racism and segregation.

In the first part of episode one, we use the Racial Dot Map to get a sense of what race looks like in our country. And while it certainly gives us a picture of the stark racial lines segregating in our communities, it doesn’t necessarily help us understand how we got to be this way, and perhaps
more relevant, how we can fix this. In the second part of episode one we look at Parable of the Polygons, a playable blog post by Vi Hart and Nicky Case, to help us understand these slightly more nuanced questions.

parable of the polygons

How I Wish I Could Celebrate Pi

People with an interest in date coincidences are probably already getting themselves slightly over-excited about the fact that this month will include what can only be described as Ultimate π Day. That is, on 14th March 2015, written under certain circumstances by some people as 3/14/15, we’ll be celebrating the closest that the date can conceivably get to the exact value of π (in that format).

Of course, sensible people would take this as an excuse to have a party, so here’s my top $\tau$ recommendations for having a π party on π day.

‘All that glitters is not golden’: a Fibonacci Day Roundup

Golden ratio cake, from was 23/11, also known in some parts as 11/23, and you may recognise this as being a date made of the first four Fibonacci numbers. (Such numerical date-based Fibonacci coincidences haven’t been as exciting since 5/8/13, but at least this is one we can celebrate annually.) This meant that mathematicians everywhere got excited about #FibonacciDay, and spent the day talking about the amazing sequence. Here’s a round-up of some of the best bits, so you can celebrate Fibonacci day in style.

Vi Hart has 3D printed a hypercube made of monkeys that has the symmetries of the Quaternion group

Group theorists, often interested principally in the abstract, have been known to neglect the vital importance of producing funky gizmos that exhibit the symmetries they have theorized about. Internet maths celeb Vi Hart, working with mathematician Henry Segerman, has addressed this absence in the case of $Q_8$, the quaternion group. The object they’ve designed is four-dimensional and made of monkeys, and they’ve done the closest thing possible to making one, which is to 3D-print an embedding of it into our three-dimensional universe, also made of monkeys. Their ArXiv preprint (pdf) is well worth a read, and when you get to the photos of the resulting sculpture (entitled “More fun than a hypercube of monkeys”), you’ll fall off your chair.

Further reading

The Quaternion Group as a Symmetry Group by Vi Hart and Henry Segerman, on the ArXiv.

Nothing Is More Fun than a Hypercube of Monkeys at Roots of Unity, including an animated gif of a virtual version of the sculpture rotating through 4D-space.

Henry Segerman’s homepage

Vi Hart’s home page

3.142: a π round-up

Pi pie by Robert Couse-Baker. Photo used under the CC-BY 2.0 license.

π pie by Robert Couse-Baker. Photo used under the CC-BY 2.0 licence.

‘Tis the season to celebrate the circle constant! Yes, that’s right: in some calendar systems using some date notation, the day and month coincide with the first three digits of π, and mathematicians all over the world are celebrating with thematic baked goods and the wearing of irrational t-shirts.

And the internet’s maths cohort isn’t far behind. Here’s a round-up (geddit – round?!) of some of our favourites. In case you were wondering, we at The Aperiodical hadn’t forgotten about π day – we’re just saving ourselves for next year, when we’ll celebrate the magnificent “3.14.15”, which will for once be more accurate to the value of π than π approximation day on 22/7. (Admittedly, for the last few years, 3.14.14 and so on have strictly been closer to π than 22/7. But this will be the first time you can include the year and feel like you’re doing it right.)

Follow Friday, 16/11/12

Who’s really good at the internet? I mean, really? Do any of us have a handle on that crazy pile of ones and zeroes that sucks away so much of our leisure time while simultaneously providing us with access to all of human knowledge at the click of a button? In another misguided attempt to help us all clamber on top of the ever-increasing pile of data and facts (and opinions), here’s some more recommendations of who to follow on Twitter, and some links and funny things they have recently Twittered.