Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Quantum Honeybees" by Adam Frank. Discover, November 1997, pages80-87.

When they return to the hive, honeybees perform a dance for their fellow beesto communicate the location of food sources. The world of honeybees seems afar cry from the 6-dimensional mathematical objects known as flag manifolds.Yet it was in studying these objects that mathematician Barbara Shipman foundthat certain shapes derived from flag manifolds bear striking resemblance tothe shapes traced out in the honeybees' choreography. This article describesShipman's ideas as well as the controversy she has created by suggesting a linkbetween the honeybees' dance and quantum mechanics.

--- Allyn Jackson

American Mathematical Society