Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Mental Muscles of Steel," by Mckenzie Funk. Popular Science, February 2004.

Mathematics comes into play a few times in this article, which is intended to back up the assertion by neuroscientists that people need to "exercise" their brains. The piece includes a science aptitude quiz, information on the brain, and some "exercises" (stimulation)---including how to make and demonstrate a Möbius strip. Mathematician Manjul Bhargava (whom the magazine profiled in "PopSci's Brilliant Ten," November 2002) is quoted: "It takes a computer seconds to multiply two 400-digit numbers. Run the problem backward---ask it to find the two factors---and it'll take millions of years."

--- Annette Emerson