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RIP Mr. Escalante

I’d just like to take a moment to remember Jaime Escalante, who died today at the age of 79. I’ve talked about this East LA math teacher whose antics were given a national stage in the film Stand and Deliver before, and out of all the films I’ve seen that try to do justice to mathematics, this one does the best job. So thanks again, Kimo, for reminding us that skill in mathematics, just as with anthing else worth doing, comes from hard work and dedication. Although, I’m sure that a cool hat certainly helps.

Mathematical badass.

Math Really Goes Pop

This morning my good friend Gabe of Motivated Grammar, who is secretly addicted to celebrity gossip, sent me this link to an article from Perez Hilton which is all about mathematics. No, I am not joking – Mr. Hilton apparently loves Grigori Perelman, the mathematician who solved the famous Poincaré conjecture and recently refused a $1 million dollar prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute for his solution.

I'm fairly confident that this is the first time a mathematician has been branded with the Perez Hilton logo.

The Poincaré conjecture, first posed by Poincaré over 100 years ago, is a question about conditions under which an object is essentially a hypersphere, that is, a sphere sitting inside 4 dimensional space. More specifically, it asks whether or not every simply connected, closed 3-manifold is homeomorphic to the 3-sphere (the answer is affirmative). Believe it or not, there is a fairly accessible . . . → Read More: Math Really Goes Pop

Math Gets Around: Finding a Job and Keeping Your Soul

Hello friends. My apologies for not writing over the past couple of weeks, but I was away at a conference. Being at math conference has its pluses and minuses (pun intended), but one nice thing about being surrounded by other mathematically inclined individuals is that you never have to explain what it is mathematicians do. You may talk a great deal about your research specifically, but everyone understands what it is to do mathematics.

In general, however, math jobs don’t get much buzz, aside from academic jobs and the oft-mired quants who have received varying degrees of blame for the recent recession. That’s why I’d like to highlight this recent post from the Scientific American blog, which discusses quantitative non-academic job opportunities at start-ups that have nothing to do with finance.

At first glance, it might seem like these companies have nothing to do with one another. Kickstarter aims . . . → Read More: Math Gets Around: Finding a Job and Keeping Your Soul

Math in the News(paper)

Last year, Professor Steven Strogatz of Cornell University wrote a series of op-eds for the New York Times that discussed the presence of mathematics in unlikely places. I discussed one of these columns here. Now, either those articles were well-received, or Professor Strogatz is well-connected, because this year he’s back in the Times with a much more ambitious series of articles. This time around, Strogatz is attempting to “[write] about the elements of mathematics, from preschool to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject.”

Preschool to grad school is a significant amount of ground to cover, but thus far Strogatz has used his articles to assault this goal with gusto. To date, he has tackled counting, patterns in addition, negative numbers, division, and basic high school algebra. This doesn’t really do justice to his content, though. Along the way he . . . → Read More: Math in the News(paper)