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Math in Books: Logicomix

This past September, a very strange thing happened. The worlds of mathematics and comics combined to give birth to the graphic novel Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna. The book gives a slightly fictionalized account of Bertrand Russell‘s life, and uses this storyline as a gateway to explore the ideas in mathematical logic which were developed around the turn of the last century.

Combining mathematics and comics may sound like a recipe for disaster, but Logicomix has achieved a remarkable level of success. Not only has the critical response been exceedingly positive, but the book has also made the New York Times bestseller list. I’m assuming it was quite a popular gift item as well, because up through Christmas eve it was on back order at It’s certainly rare for anything so fundamentally imbued with mathematics to . . . → Read More: Math in Books: Logicomix

Math Gets Around: Breakfast

I admire the food blog Serious Eats because, as we’ve seen before, it’s not afraid to get a little mathematical. This month they have upped the ante with a post on the delicious object now known as the Mobius strip bagel.

Named for the classical geometric object of the same name, the Mobius strip bagel (and its cousin, the Mobius strip donut) give an elegant mathematical spin on ordinary edibles. In addition to the aesthetic value, the Mobius strip bagel also has the advantage of added surface area, meaning that one can pile on even more cream cheese before stuffing one’s face.

Mathematician George Hart has step-by-step instructions for the transformation from torus to Mobius strip here. I have yet to try this technique myself, but I can think of no better way to celebrate the holidays than by transforming breakfast food into mathematically themed breakfast food. . . . → Read More: Math Gets Around: Breakfast

More on Nerdy T-Shirts

Recently I received an email imploring me to check out all of the “unique designs” available at a site called I’m not sure why I was the recipient of such an email – they could have found me through my university affiliations, or through this blog, but I’m not sure which. If you’ve been reading my musings for a while, you may know of the problems I have with the intersection between mathematics and clothing. Most of what’s out there is junk. As one might expect, I was therefore quite skeptical when I received this solicitation. At the same time, I’d never heard of this site before, and so I hoped that perhaps a company that understood my frustrations had come to fruition.

Have my prayers been answered? Sort of. Let’s consider a few examples.

Despite claiming to have “unique designs,” the shirts at are all variations on . . . → Read More: More on Nerdy T-Shirts

A Lack of Math in the Movies

Apologies for my absence – academic life has recently forced me to put the blog on hold. Things have cleared up now though, and I have a backlog of things to discuss, so let’s get right to it.

Last month, Jennie Yabroff wrote an article for Newsweek discussing the new film Precious. I haven’t seen the film, but this trailer makes a fairly strong impression:

The film has received a nearly unanimous positive response from critics. The main character, Precious, begins the film as a 16 year-old illiterate middle school student, but after transferring to an alternative school, she is able to find hope with the help of a teacher who encourages her to keep a journal and write in it daily. The theme of finding redemption through writing is certainly not new to this genre of film, as Yabroff points out. Films such as Dangerous Minds and Freedom . . . → Read More: A Lack of Math in the Movies