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jAdis Needs Some Math Review

If you’ve ever gone for a walk down main street in Santa Monica, you may have passed by a store front filled with all kinds of paraphernalia. This is the home of jAdis, a museum of sorts, filled with props from TV and movie history, from a model of the robot in Metropolis to a spitting image of everyone’s favorite crypt keeper. Hey there good lookin’… No doubt maintaining such a large collection of Tinseltown history is not necessarily an inexpensive endeavor – for this reason, there is a nominal fee for those wishing to enter jAdis and sift through its treasures. Unfortunately, it looks like someone forgot to double-check the pricing scheme.

I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea to charge more per person if you have more than one person in your group, but something tells me this bold strategy may not pan . . . → Read More: jAdis Needs Some Math Review

Math Gets Around: Preventing the Zombie Apocalypse

If pop culture has taught us anything, it is that in the event of a zombie outbreak, we are royally screwed. When faced with an onslaught of classical zombies (of the type first made famous by Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead), films have shown again and again that we are no match for hordes of cannibalistic undead. With the more recent interpretation of zombies that are faster and smarter, our hopes for survival have diminished even further.

Despite overwhelming odds, however, it is not in our nature to simply roll over in the face of adversity. While the body count is usually high in films chronicling the eventual war between the living and the dead, in most cases there are a few who survive to continue the fight after the credits roll. But how realistic is this depiction? How prepared are we to . . . → Read More: Math Gets Around: Preventing the Zombie Apocalypse

Math in the Movies: District 9

In continuing with the theme of discussing movies before I see them, I’d like to say a few words about the upcoming film District 9. You can see the trailer below, if you haven’t heard of it (although if you live in LA it’s difficult to plead ignorance, since the viral marketing has been on full blast all summer).

It’s natural to ask what a film about aliens living in South African refugee camps has to do with mathematics. Aside from the obvious (no doubt any intergalactic species must have a good working knowledge of mathematics), I’d like to point you to an aspect of the marketing campaign for the film that’s featured on the official website. If you look in the lower right, you will see a link to a site that immediately aroused my interest: Maths From Outer Space. The purpose of this website is best summarized . . . → Read More: Math in the Movies: District 9

Read a Mathematician’s Lament

I recently had the pleasure of stumbling across Paul Lockhart’s essay, A Mathematician’s Lament. Lockhart, a former research mathematician in analytic number theory who received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1990, decided to leave academia in 2000 in order to concentrate on K-12 math education, which he hass been doing at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn.

Lockhart’s article lambasts the current state of mathematics education in this country. Some of his main points are the following: Mathematics is an art form, but unlike other art forms like music or painting, is not understood as such by the general population. As a result, students are not exposed to the beauty of mathematics, and are instead taught through drill and memorization, which effectively kills any natural curiosity the student may have. The most important part of mathematics lies not in the facts or theorems that students memorize, but in the arguments that . . . → Read More: Read a Mathematician’s Lament