Archives for January, 2011

Nakamura Wins at Wijk aan Zee

In chess news, Hikaru Nakamura took clear first place at the annual chess extravaganza in Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands, ahead of world champ Viswanathan Anand, former world champ Vladimir Kramnik, and current world number one Magnus Carlsen. Here’s Gary Kasparov explaining the significance of this result for American chess: Fischer never won a…

Monday Math: Infinite Descent

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Gosh, it sure is neat that we can generate all Pythagorean triples from one simple formula, but what happens if we try an exponent bigger than two? That is, can you find nontrivial integer solutions to the equation \[ x^n+y^n=z^n \]   when n is a positive integer…

Why’d it Have to be a Mathematician?

From The San Francisco Chronicle: A California university professor has been charged with peeing on a colleague’s campus office door. Prosecutors charged 43-year-old Tihomir Petrov, a math professor at California State University, Northridge, with two misdemeanor counts of urinating in a public place. Arraignment is scheduled Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court in San…

By now you have no doubt heard that MSNBC, apparently fretting that their ratings were not low enough, has fired Keith Olbermann. Brilliant move! They have replaced him with the milquetoast, CW spouting Laurence O’Donnell, meaning that reruns of NCIS are probably now the best option for weeknights at eight (except for Mondays, of course,…

Time to finish what we started last week. We saw that if a, b, c was a primitive Pythagorean triple, then at least one of a and b is even and one is odd. Let us declare, then, that we will use a to denote the odd length and b to denote the even one.…

No Page Numbers???

The book gods have punished me for my apostasy. It turns out the Kindle has no mechanism for telling you the physical page number you are on in the book. This makes it problematic for scholarly purposes, since page numbers are usually expected for a proper citation. It never even occurred to me that this…

Department of Amusing Quotations

I am currently working on a section of the BECB (the big evoluition/creation book) in which I discuss some of the legal history of the issue. Towards that end I just read the opinions of the Tennessee Supreme Court in the Scopes Trial. The Court addressed a number of issues, but we shall save that…

I Bought a Kindle!

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point technology left me behind. I still can’t play those first-person video games without getting dizzy and confused. On those rare occasions when I want to record a television program, I use videotape. I despise cell phones, though I do begrudgingly admit they have their uses.…

Monday Math: Pythagorean Triples

It just so happens that I am teaching elementary number theory this term. So how about the triumphant return of Monday Math! For those playing the home game, the course textbook is A Friendly Introduction to Number Theory (Third Ed.) by Joseph Silverman. Let’s begin. I’m sure we all remember the Pythagorean Theorem. That’s the…

Math in New Orleans!

I’ll be in New Orleans for the next few days for the annual math extravaganza known as the Joint Mathematics Meetings I’ll be speaking on Friday, about the Monty Hall problem of course. As my reward, I will be seeing Ellis Marsalis perform at the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro that night. Should be fun! See…

Al Jaffee Interview at HuffPo

Shame on you if you don’t know Al Jaffee. He’s been a cartoonist for Mad Magazine going back to its founding in 1954. He is best known for the “Fold-Ins” which are hard to describe if you’ve never seen them. Click here to have a look. He also wrote the “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions”…