Category: Math for Liberal Arts

History of Numeration Systems

I just stumbled upon this great little video about Ancient Numeration Systems.  It does not go into depth on any particular system, but it wanders through the following: Tally marks Sumerian symbols Babylonian symbols Egyptian symbols Roman symbols and modifications of it Number systems based on the body (Zulu) Commerce-based number systems (Yoruba in Nigeria) Number systems involving knots and string (Persians, Incans) Numerals 0-9 (invented in India) Place value Fractions as a solution for “fair-share” situations in culture Unit Fractions (Egyptians) Fractions with base-60 (Sumerians and Babylonians), still used for time measurements today Abacus (Chinese) Use of the...

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Math about the Electoral College

This was a surprisingly good video about the math of the U.S. Electoral College system.  At first I kept saying “but wait a minute…” but all my concerns were addressed in the video, and then some.  I was surprised by the revelation (towards the end of the video) that it is theoretically possible (although not likely) to win the seat of President of the United States with less than 23% of the popular vote.  Wow. There is some great math of ratios and percents here.  You can find data and other pertinent information about the Electoral College here. You...

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Math Videos at the Sputnik Observatory

The Sputnik Observatory, is dedicated to providing a venue for viewing and sharing ideas and philosophies of contemporary culture.  Jonathan Harris, who worked on the mindblowing sociological website We Feel Fine, is the site director and blog creator for Sputnik Observatory.  Sputnik also has a host of codirectors with diverse backgrounds in journalism, architecture, and ballet.  Members of Sputnik have spent the last ten years interviewing scientists, philosophers, academics, and the like.  They have over 200 videos of conversations on themes such as coherence, interspecies communication, and urban metabolism. “Sputnik Observatory is a New York not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to the study of contemporary culture. We fulfill this mission by documenting, archiving, and disseminating ideas that are shaping modern thought by interviewing leading thinkers in the arts, sciences and technology from around the world. Our philosophy is that ideas are NOT selfish, ideas are NOT viruses. Ideas survive because they fit in with the rest of life. Our position is that ideas are energy, and should interconnect and re-connect continuously because by linking ideas together we learn, and new ideas emerge.” Here are some of the short interviews that involve mathematics (and all really COOL mathematics).  All of these can be embedded into course shells. Will Wright – Possibility Space Ian Stewart – Alien Mathematics Ian Stewart – Pattern-Seeking Minds Lord Martin Rees – Simple Recipe Trevor Paglen –...

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Puzzle Broadcasts on the Math Factor

Is anyone in the mood for a good math puzzle?  The Math Factor is a well-established resource of just that.  University of Arkansas professor, Chaim Goodman-Strauss and radio journalist, Kyle Kellams, have been broadcasting weekly math-puzzle  segments since 2004 on Kellams’ show Ozarks at Large.  The Math Factor website is a steadily-growing archive of their work.  Goodman-Strauss, together with Edmund Harriss , Stephen Morris, and Jeff Yoak, provide the content (which contains works from Lewis Carroll, among others).  Several older puzzle posts include podcasts of Goodman-Strauss, and other contributors, explaining the answers on Kellams’ show.  There are also links for comments if you would like to post a response to a puzzle. Also available: a poster in case you’d like to help advertise! The Math Factor on Twitter  (username: @Mathfactor or hashtag #mathfactor) Goodman-Strass’ graphics page Possibly Related Posts: Elaborations for Creative Thinking in STEM Learning Math is Not a Spectator Sport Recorded Webinar: Teaching Math in 2020 AMATYC Keynote Notes: Challenge and Curiosity AMATYC Keynote Notes: Interaction and...

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Mathematical Coral Reefs

Margaret Wertheim speaks at TED about the beautiful mathematics of coral reefs, hyperbolic geometry, and more.  In particular, I liked her bit (around the 8-minute mark) where she says that if zero and one are already possible answers, then mathematicians would become immediately suspicious that infinity might be one too  (think, how many ways can two lines intersect).  She also discusses the inability to see a principle when it is right in front of your face (like the hyperbolic geometry in leafy lettuce). Margaret Wertheim on the Beautiful Mathematics of Coral Reefs Possibly Related Posts: Elaborations for Creative Thinking in STEM Learning Math is Not a Spectator Sport Recorded Webinar: Teaching Math in 2020 AMATYC Keynote Notes: Challenge and Curiosity AMATYC Keynote Notes: Interaction and...

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