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Math Gets Around: Holiday Treats

At this time of year, many people push their studies to the side in favor of roasted animals and pie. However, the activities of enlarging your waistline and mastering some mathematics need not be mutually exclusive. For evidence of this claim, I need only turn your attention to the culmination of thousands of years of human evolution: the Pecan Pie-cosahedron.

Pecans + math = crazy delicious.

This masterful work of craftsmanship was created by an individual known by the pseudonym of turkey tek over at instructables.com. The pie is so named because it has the shape of an icosahedron, arguably the most beautiful of the five1 Platonic Solids (so named because of the Greek philosopher, not because the solids are just good friends). Even better, this isn’t turkey tek’s first foray into mathematically inspired baked goods: also on display is the formiddable Giant Fractal Pecan Pie.

Yes, even pie . . . → Read More: Math Gets Around: Holiday Treats

Math in the News: Are Math Teachers Really Only One Chapter Ahead?

It looks like middle school math teachers can’t catch a break. According to a recent study, a significant percentage of math teachers in grades 5-8 do not have a degree or a certification in math. Sadly, the numbers are even worse for schools in low income areas. While it’s certainly true that you don’t need a math degree to teach middle school math effectively, the data does suggest that there is a significant bloc of underqualified math teachers trying to impart essential knowledge to these young students.

Of course, I doubt this is all the teachers’ fault – elementary and middle school teachers are a rare commodity in this country, and kids need someone to teach them math. An understaffed school will do what it takes to make sure there’s somebody at the front of the classroom. And I certainly don’t envy those teachers out there who may not feel . . . → Read More: Math in the News: Are Math Teachers Really Only One Chapter Ahead?

Math in the Movies: Pi

In 1998, Darren Aronofsky shot to success with his independent film, Pi. The film was widely heralded as an excellent film, and earned Mr. Aronofsky the 1998 Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival. He then went on to direct the similarly successful Requiem for a Dream, followed by the less well-received 2006 film The Fountain. His latest film, the Mickey Rourke vehicle called The Wrestler, opens soon.

The story of Pi centers on a mathematician named Max Cohen, a self professed number theorist – although he never specifies what qualifies him for this title – who spends his days analyzing the stock market and wiping the blood off of his upper lip (I know what you’re thinking, and no, he’s not a cage fighter – that would’ve made the film way better). As he comes closer to “unlocking the secrets” of the stock market (whatever that means), several interested . . . → Read More: Math in the Movies: Pi