Monday, December 17, 2012

MoMath - Museum of Mathematics Opening Day

I attended the Dec. 14 pre-opening and Dec. 15 opening day celebrations of America's one and only Museum of Mathematics in New York City. It was a great experience and a great museum. Glen Whitney, Director, and all his staff and contributors are to be congratulated on a job well done. The museum is located mid-block on 26th St. in Manhattan, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Mathematics is THE ultimate language, but it needs work, and Mathematicians are working on it. From the youngest pre-School teacher to Alain Connes with his Non-Communicative Geometry project in France to The Langlands Program out of British Columbia and everyone in between, it is being worked.

Mathematics, taught VERY POORLY in America's Public Education school system, through no fault of the teachers themselves (they have the highest teacher drop-out rate) but rather the insane bureaucracy brought on by people in charge of Education who know NOTHING of Science, let alone Math (they are all political appointees), is THE deepest, THE widest, and THE tallest field of study.

It is a LANGUAGE, NOT a "Science." It transcends Science. It grew out of Logic. It is real, so real in fact, it would exist even if Reality itself never existed.

But forGET all the equations you ever learned by rote in a system maintained via TRADITION, of all the God-forsaken things, to make you HATE this MOST wonderful subject.

EXPERIENCE Mathematics, sans formulas, experience it hands on, interactively, at America's National Museum of Mathematics, in NYC. Bring the kids, including yourself, and be young again. A pleasant time is guaranteed for all.

Here are the names of the exhibits, not all but most of them, and prepare to THINK, not in a brain-stressing but rather in a fun and pleasant manner, THAT is what the museum is all about, and hopefully, each state and major city will repeat it's success, in time:

Light Grooves, Hyper Hyperboloid, Pattern Mesh, Structure Studio, Shapes of Space, Mathenaeum, Tracks of Galileo, Coaster Rollers, Twisted Thruway, String Product, Human Tree, Marble Multiplier, Math Square, Tessellation Station, 3D Doodle, Tile Factory, Sixth Sense, Monkey Around, Enigma Cafe, Rhythms of Life, Gallery of Innovation, Super Soma, Finding Fifteen, Feedback Fractals, Twist and Roll, and Marble Multiplier.

Several links before we show the tables.

The Official MoMath Website

The Official MoMath Facebook Page

Scientific American magazine's article re MoMath's Opening

Alan Boyle of Cosmic Log's ooriginal articl from a year ago descibing the museum to be
From the article:

Although the museum is designed to appeal to all ages, the team is paying special attention to how well the exhibits go over with students in the fourth through the eighth grade.

"That's our sweet spot, for a very simple reason," Whitney said. "If you look at the trajectory of students going through the curriculum, things seem more or less fine up to the fourth grade. That period from the fourth to the eight grade is where we see a decline in the engagement of the students. Why are we opening a math museum in the first place? It's because we see cultural issues in this country."

International studies have shown that 15-year-old students in the U.S. perform well below the global average when it comes to math — specifically, 25th place out of 34 countries in 2009, when the Program for International Student Assessment's most recent test was conducted. EducationSecretary Arne Duncan said the results were "an absolute wakeup call for America."

Whitney has been awake and aware of this problem for a long time. He believes the standard sequence of math classes is way too limiting, and fails to engage students as much as they could be engaged. "Mathematics is actually much broader and richer than the list of topics that one reaches through the normal curriculum," he said.

My own MoMath Facebook Photo Album which will be expanded in time.

My own Facebook page

Front entrance facing Madison Square Park, on 26th St. between 5th and 6th avenues. — at Museum of Mathematics.

Main entrance to the museum.
MoMath - Entrance view - pre-Opening night, Dec. 14, 2012

The top Floor is Floor 0 and the bottom Floor (Entrance) is Floor -1

Plaque of Founders

"Light Grooves", a holographic sculpture
The same sculpture, but from an angle 90 degrees different. See if you can notice the difference.

Mathematical pewter jewelry on sale in the Museum Shop.

More Mathematical jewelry

Structure Studio

Shapes of Space

The Mathenaeum kiosk and Tracks of Galileo

Ride the square wheeled tricycles at the Twisted Thruway

String Product shows multiplication in 3-D, as well as being the center of the helical stairs to the next floor.

Math Square is highly interactive and changes as you walk on it.

The nodes on this sculpture provide sound as you touch them. 

Tessellation Station

The Enigma Cafe has many Magic Puzzles at various tables to try out. 

Rhythm of Life

Gallery of Innovation

The Human Tree is a popular exhibit in which you move you arms in front of the camera, and the screen behind the camera projects your movements in fractal form.

The Human Tree screen

Twist and Roll challenges you to choose the right 3-D object and predict how it will roll.

Some items I purchased last evening at pre-Opening. All are affordable approximately $12 each. The colored Moire coasters are more beautiful than seen in this lighting. Euler's Identity is considered by Mathematicians to be the most beautiful "equation" or "formula" in Math. It is composed of 2 operators (+, =) and 5 constants (pi, e, -1, 0, and i) only and shows how they interrelate:

e raised to the i(pi) +1 = 0 


e^i(pi) + 1 = 0

MoMath Museum Store

MoMath Musuem Store

View from Madison Square Park across the street, after dusk. The museum store is on the left.

A sculpture in Madison Sq. Park of the temporary (Through Feb. 13, 2013) sculpture: BUCKYBALL. Looking east in this picture, MoMath is to the left, or north.

Looking North from the BUCKYBALL sculpture, MoMath is small and in the left center. Christmas Tree and the Empire State Building as well, which is 7 blocks north.

From the Park, MoMath is in the lower left.

With Glen Whitney, Director and Cindy Lawrence, Assistant Director, at MoMath pre-Opening night, Dec. 14, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

MoMATH: America's FIRST Math Museum Opens Tomorrow, and Today

An artits conception of how MoMath would look from last year. The reality is a bit different and we will show you tomorrow when we return. However the sense of space in accurate in this wonderful two two floor museum dedicated to Mathematics alone.

I am happy to report that MoMath looks great and as the only museum of it's kind in America, one dedicated only to Mathematics, that this important step in making the public appreciate both the beauty and wide scope of a subject often taught in a boring and bland manner, is off to a eye-catching and enjoyable start.

Tomorrow, from 10-5 will be the first day The Museum of Mathematics opens to the public. I attended a members-only pre-opening this afternoon and bought a few items in the well-stocked shop with a separate street entrance and took a quick tour. It looks great, very clean and very entertaining for adults and children of all ages. There were many mathematics teachers and professors enjoying the exhibits as well as many children. My camera was buggy and I couldn't take many photos but I have worked out the kinks and will have more tomorrow.

Previously, I wrote:

The world's first Mathematics Museum is slated to open in New York City in 2012. Thanks to Alan Boyle of Cosmic Log for turning us on to this.

I sure wish there were more.

That's not me lol

George Musser Jr. and me Nov. 28, 2012 at the New York Academy of Sciences , WTC7 NYC, panel discussion on Pride and Science: Where are all the Flying Cars? (A: they exist, you just better have a lot of money), more on this later as well as my participation in the NYC roundtable on Time the next week.
Photograph by Robert Ricci, copyright 2012

Click here to see Cosmic log's article on same.

Happy Holidays MATH PHYSICS Shopping!

Clifford Pickover has a followup to his excellent The Math Book, titled The Physics Book. Union College professor and laser cooling specialist Chad Orzel reviews it here and Pickover's own page describes it here.

Pickover's Math Book is one of five I strongly recommend for the budding genius in your family be they 8-80 or beyond:

These are IMO the five best introductory books to Mathematics that prove that the field IS ANYTHING BUT BORING, but is indeed a beautiful and exciting Field of Study.

State regulations in America's States, exceedingly boring in themselves, hamper our Teachers in making the students understand this VERY important subject. Math is overly tested here in the USA, and at too early an age, to the point of impressing our young and oh so important citizens that the subject seems positively evil, and useless.

"What is Math good for?" the childrens cry! This mantra is far too common. We. Must. Debunk.

Well, here are five books that will hopefully dispel that faulty thinking.

I list them from simplest to deepest, so this is the order in which I would recommend them to be read, with links to Amazon:

1) 50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Need To Know by Tony Crilly

Back on Feb. 8, 2010, I did a positive review of this book, outlining it even, twice, which you can call up by clicking here.

There are wonderful little timelines at the bottom of each of the 50 four-page chapters. I spent a considerable amount of time typing them in into a gross History of Mathematics at the very beginning of this year 2011, and you can call that up by clicking here.

This book is wonderfully cheap, and oddly, actually costs less at a local bookstore than at Amazon. I don't recommend this book for everyone. Only those aged eight to eighty. :-)

Mathematics starts here. This is your launching pad.

2) The MαTH βOOK: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics by Clifford A. Pickover

Anyone who doesn't think that Math is beautiful, hasn't read this book. Heck, just skim through the pages. I would be surprised if you didn't buy it, just to own it. Beautiful pictures, suitable for framing. Beautiful prose.

3) Mathematics 1001: Absolutely Everything That Matters About Mathematics in 1001 Bite-Sized Explanations by Richard Elwes

You've seen 50 Mathematical ideas, then 250 milestones. Time to ratchet up the Knowledge Quotient. Try 1001. Currently my favorite read and my launching pad for ideas when I'm bored. And I hate being bored. I've got a fever, and the only prescription during those times is this book. Or more cowbell. Both'll work.

Dr. Elwes has a webpage for this book, including the very small amount of errata, which can be found here.

John Baez has a nice recent review of the book: here.

4) Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology by Dave Richeson

There's more to Topology than mathematicians being unable to distinguish a coffee cup from a donut, unlike policemen, who don't care; they enjoy both. This is the first of these books that have actual EQUATIONS in them, but don't freak out. They're straightforward, and Dave expositates beautifully.

It's all about Leonhard Euler in oh so many ways. I can't recommend this book strongly enough.

5) The Princeton Companion to Mathematics edited by Timothy Gowers, et. al.

And now it's time for Grad School. Not every Mathematician knows what their fellows are up to. It's been said by a famous Mathematician, that if they were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, it would be the Princeton Companion. Read it and you'll see why. It is superb.

14 Math Holidays Every Math Major Should Know

Pi Day, e Day, Square Root Day, Odd Day (isn't that every day?), Powers of Ten Day, and 9 other Math Holidays. It's all here, baby!
DISCLAIMER: I did not write this but liked it enough to do my copy'n'paste thing (my specialty!) and put it on my weblog. Plus, I'm a sucker for lists! I got it from a random e-mail in my Inbox from one Jasmine Hall, here.
At first I thought it was spam and it may very well end up being so, and unless and/or until I explore Jasmine's website I wish to express that I am not endorsing this school nor am I saying you should not explore it. I assume my readership is intelligent to make up their own minds one way or another.

In any event, the mini-essay is good Marketing (another specialty), and as said I enjoyed it so here it is:

14 Holidays Every Math Major Must Know

Math, however unfairly, has a reputation for being a bit dull. Yet math nerds know that the subject can be just as fascinating and fun as any other college major out there. Of course, convincing others who aren’t mathematically inclined of this fact can be difficult. Luckily, there are some fun holidays out there that can get even the most resistant of individuals to enjoy celebrating some of the fundamentals of mathematics. Here are just a few of the ones well worth celebrating.
  1. Pi DayCelebrated on March the 14th in the US, this holiday recognizes the mathematical constant of Pi, which is often abbreviated to 3.14– hence the date of the holiday. Math geeks can celebrate by enjoying the wonders of Pi through math, watching the movie Pi, eating actual pie or some Pi-inspired art.
  2. Square Root DayThe date of Square Root Day changes depending on the year. For instance, square root day could be 3/3/09 or 4/4/16, meaning this holiday only comes around once in a great while, so you should party it up while you can. Some ideas for enjoying square root day include cooking up some delicious root veggies, square dancing or anything else punny involving squares or roots.
  3. Sonia Kovalevsky Mathematics DaysWomen in math will love this event. Mostly celebrated at middle and high schools, this holiday isn’t set on a fixed date, but usually takes place in the spring. It is meant to encourage young women to pursue a career in a math or science field, inspired by Sonia Kovalevsky, an important Russian mathematician. Math geeks can attend lectures on this day or participate in workshops.
  4. e DayWhile not as well-known as Pi, e is also an irrational number that occurs naturally in the grand scheme of mathematics. Discovered by a number of mathematicians, it’s useful in helping puzzle out exponential and logarithmic functions. The rough numerical equivalent of e is 2.7, making the logical day to celebrate it February 7th. As to how you celebrate e Day, well, that’s up to you. You can only eat foods that start with e, read the poetry of ee cummings, watch the E! Network or just do some fun math related to e.
  5. Math 2.0 DayUse this holiday to celebrate the intersection of math and technology. Only July 8th, spend your day using math programs, attending tech lectures and appreciating the subject on the web.
  6. Pi Approximation DaySome prefer to celebrate Pi not on the decimal equivalent to Pi, but instead on the fraction that represents it: 22/7. Twenty two divided by seven gives you the approximate value of Pi, hence the name of the holiday. Celebrations of this day are pretty much the same as those on 3/14, so why not celebrate twice a year with twice the pie?
  7. Odd DayOdd day is a day that singles out those wonderful, wacky odd numbers. It occurs when three consecutive odd numbers make up a date– something that happens only six times a century. The last Odd Day was 5/7/09 and the next will be on 7/9/11. Enjoy Odd Day by, well, being odd.
  8. Powers of Ten DayThis holiday is all about seeing the world in a different light, though different magnitudes of 10 to be more precise. It was celebrated on 10/10/10 and isn’t due to come around again for quite some time, so if you missed your chance to celebrate in 2010, you likely won’t live to see this holiday come round again.
  9. World Maths DayThis is the day when math finally gets its due. Celebrated internationally on March 1st, the holiday recognizes all things mathematical, focusing special attention on getting kids enthused about a career in math or doing equations. You can celebrate World Maths (or Math if you’re not a fan of the British spelling) Day any way you like, so long as it involves the subject.
  10. Mole DayKnow the math behind chemistry? Then you’ve likely heard of Avagadro’s number (6.02×10^23) that’s used as a basic unit of measure in chemistry, more commonly referred to as a Mole. It’s observed on October 23rd from 6:02 am to 6:02 pm, and can include enjoying anything mole related from mole sauce to Whack-a-Mole. The punnier, the better.
  11. Pythagorean Theorem Day: Pythagoras’ theorem states that the length of sides of a right triangle will always fit the equation a squared + b squared = c squared. Thus, this holiday is celebrated on dates which meet this criteria. For example, 6/8/10 would be one such date. Enjoy this holiday by playing the triangle, doing some geometry and eating Greek food.
  12. Math Storytelling DayOn Math Storytelling Day, those who love math can have fun making up and sharing math-related stories. They can involve puzzles, logic, human relationships, just about anything so long as there’s math in there somewhere. This holiday is observed on September 25th and can be a lot of fun for kids and adults alike.
  13. Celebration of MindHeld in honor or Martin Gardner’s birthday, this holiday held on October 21st encourages a fun and playful approach to mathematics and logic puzzles. Celebrants can mark the day by doing fun math puzzles, performing magic tricks, or even sharing math stories.
  14. Fibonacci DayIf you’re a math nerd, you’ve more than likely heard of Fibonacci’s sequence. This sequence, made famous by the Italian mathematician, creates a spiral and begins with the numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, so the holiday is celebrated on November 23rd of each year. There are no set guidelines for celebration, so those who want to mark the occasion can do anything from delve into the sequence to enjoy Italian food.

FUN with MATH !!

Thanks to Ulla Mattfolk of Finland for this:

Math professor Dave Richeson's Double Torus Clothesline Trick:

Lady has problem with basic clock arithmetic:

Integration Joke

Right Brain Math