Math in the Media

Also see the Blog on Math Blogs

Mail to a friend · Print this article · Previous Columns 
Tony PhillipsTony Phillips' Take on Math in the Media
A monthly survey of math news
Math in the Media Archive
2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997

Math in the Media 1999

December 1999

November 1999

* The crumpling catastrophe: push a flat sheet of paper into a coffee filter holder. You will see ``conical dislocations in crumpling'' as described in an article ...more

*How to slice a tort? A new algorithm devised by NYU politics professor Steven Brams and Union College math professor Alan Taylor gives a method for ``arbitrating any dispute ...more

* Beautiful dynamics. ``Persistent patterns in transient chaotic fluid mixing'' in the October 21, 1999 Nature describes an elegant set of experiments in which a thin layer of fluid was stirred ...more

October 1999

* ``There are exactly 9, 117 and 926 topological types of, respectively, 4-connected uninodal, binodal and trinodal networks, derived from simple tilings ...more

* Unexpected behavior from fractal drums. A team at the Université Paris-Sud in Orsay, France, has assembled fractal drums the size of a fingernail. ...more

* Fermat's Last Theorem was just a special case of a new result that may have just been proved: the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture. ...more

* No room on the family tree. ``About 20% of the people who lived 30 generations ago or earlier have no living descendants, whereas the remaining 80% are the ancestors of every person alive today.'' ...more

* ``... although mathematics and physics are different, it is more a matter of degree than black and white.'' This is from a piece entitled ``Randomness Everywhere'' ...more

August - September 1999

* A new Mersenne prime! ...more

* What's purple and commutes? An abelian grape. What's gray and does non-commutative algebra? Your unconscious brain...more

* What has six legs and does path integrals? An ant...more

* Phase transitions in computation...more

* Phase transitions in traffic....more

* Unemployed but busy genius...more

July 1999

* Jackson Pollock's drip paintings have been subjected to fractal analysis. In the June 3 Nature, ...more

* Fractals in the family room. Cover story in the May 27 Nature was "Escaping chaotic scattering"...more

*Your cell phone may soon have a fractal antenna. According to a piece by George Musser,...more

* Randomly ravenous rabbits? Suppose that Fibonacci's rabbits, instead of placidly pubescing and procreating ...more

* "Connections between music and science are subtle and uncertain," -- Malcolm Browne (New York Times, May 11) ...more

* "Multifractality in human heartbeat dynamics" is the topic of a letter in the June 3 1999 Nature. ...more

June 1999

* Written in stone. The equations giving the hyperbolic structure for the complement of the Figure-8 knot are engraved ...more

* ``Mathematical genius Kurt Gödel'' is the subject of an article in the June 1999 Scientific American. ...more

* Unreadable but irresistible. Sales of Principia Mathematica have soared recently after it was voted ...more

* ``I've been in schools where ... the results of the math team are announced with the same pride as the results of the football team.'' ...more

* ``Brain's Math Machine Traced to 2 Circuits'' was the New York Times' take on a report in the May 7 Science ...more

* Math on the Web in MathML soon? Pages like this which include mathematical equations have a problem: only the most elementary ...more

May 1999

* The music of the spheres: a paper in the Annals of Mathematics (January 1999) gives examples of one-parameter families of 10-dimensional drums which are all geometrically different but all "sound" the same ...more

* Learn inference and logical rigor from a computer game? Try it out (in Aaron Gower's Java implementation). This is Minesweeper, a game used by Patti Frazer Lock at St. Lawrence University to give students ``a better sense of what proofs are all about,'' ...more

* Ada and the Bernoulli Numbers. The May 1999 Scientific American has an article by Eugene Kim and Betty Toole on ``Ada and the First Computer.'' Ada is Augusta Ada Byron (her father was the poet) ...more

* The plot of Internet traffic against time gives a curve with the self-similarity of a fractal! This according to Herb Brody, reporting on work at AT&T Laboratories ...more

* Space could be finite, merely giving the illusion of infinity, according to Jean-Pierre Luminet, Glenn Starckman and ...more

April 1999

* ``Playful thinking can often lead to serious mathematics'' is one conclusion drawn from John Conway's career ...more

* ``Alan Turing's Forgotten Ideas in Computer Science,'' is a reminder of the danger of not publishing one's work ...more

* ``Why does the telephone cord always get twisted?'' Read Ian Stewart's ``Tangling with Topology'' ...more

* A Knotty Mathematical Problem? A piece in Nature (March 4) on necktie knotting was picked up ...more

* ``Math Emerges Blinking Into the Glare of Popular Culture'' (Paul Lewis, New York Times, March 13) ...more

* The Lagrangian Codes. Not the latest Ludlum but a William Safire column (New York Times, March 22) about ...more

* The math of slime molds and ant bridges comes to life in a Science Times piece ``Mindless Creatures ...more

March 1999

* Snow Sculpting with Mathematics A 12-foot high Costa surface made of snow was entered at the ...more

*A faster Web from group theory? A February 8 New York Times article (John Markoff) tells about ...more

*Virtual rapids, fingerless flows and tournament seedings are featured as "vividly real-world applications" ...more

*Unknots that can't be untied: a note in the February 12 Science describes Cantarella and Johnston's ...more

*This symmetric singular sextic surface appears on the cover of the March AMS Notices. The image ...more

February 1999

* ``Mathematics is ... the fuel that NASA increasingly uses to bounce spacecraft all over the Solar System.''...more.

* The unreasonable omnipresence of Mathematics? The fiction piece in the Feb. 1 1999 New Yorker...more.

* ``A Multifractal Walk down Wall Street,'' by Benoit Mandelbrot appears in the February 1999 Scientific... more.

* ``Once upon a Number: The Hidden Mathematical Logic of Stories,'' by John Allen Paulos is reviewed...more.

* Ian Stewart in his Scientific American column ``Mathematical Recreations'' continues to simultaneously entertain...more.

* André Weil. A sympathetic piece on ``arguably the most brilliant mathematician of our time'' appeared...more.

*``The Geometry of the Universe'' is a sidebar in...more.

* Peter Griffin, author of ``The Theory of Blackjack,'' died last October 18. Griffin is remembered...more.