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The Calculus Diaries

As the holiday season begins, I recently felt compelled to read through a gift I received over the holidays last year, a book called The Calculus Diaries. Written by English major Jennifer Oullette, who, by her own admission, had to overcome a not uncommon fear mathematics to write it, the book attempts to do what any reasonable Calculus course ought to do, but in front of a larger audience: convince the reader of the universal applicability and beauty of the subject.

Unlike most Calculus textbooks, however, Oullette’s book has an extra helping of sympathy for its audience. Oullette’s goal is not necessarily to make her readers expert mathematics students; instead, she focuses on unifying seemingly disparate types of problems under the umbrella of Calculus. Included amongst these examples are applications of Calculus to the equations of motion, thermodynamics, surfing, and the spread of disease. The wheel is not being reinvented . . . → Read More: The Calculus Diaries

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11/11/11. Great.

To the question making the news circuit today (“Does today’s date have any special significance?”) I believe an article at Scientific American provides the most compelling answer: no. Not only does the article brush aside suggestions that this day might have some deeper meaning, but it also spends some time discussing why such numerological curiosities capture our collective imagination to the extent that they do. If you only read one article about 11/11/11 today (or two, I suppose, since you’re already reading this), let it be that one.

If you are a masochist like me, though, there are plenty of ridiculous articles floating around today to help you get your blood boiling. One of my favorites comes from today‘s Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s full of gems like:

One may be the loneliest number, [La Salle University math teacher Stephen] Andrilli said, but 11 ranks among the most odd – and not . . . → Read More: 11/11/11. Great.

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Math of Macarons

A few weeks ago, I was downtown with the missus when we stumbled upon the Bottega Louie Restaurant and Gourmet Market. The window display was enticing, so we went inside and discovered, among other things, a bakery. This one’s focus was the macaron, one of many sweets aiming to topple the cupcake as the trendiest dessert, and so for a town obsessed with the current trends, it is no surprise that Los Angeles is home to several similarly specialized patisseries.

Though smaller than the average cupcake, the macaron is also more labor-intensive, and is therefore frequently on the more expensive end of the confectionery spectrum. The macarons at Bottega Louie, for example, will run you $1.75 each.

One of many delightful flavors

If you need a sweet fix, though, a single macaron may not be enough. Anticipating such a first-world problem, Bottega Louie also offers boxes of macarons for . . . → Read More: Math of Macarons

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