Welcome to Musings on Math!

“A mathematician is a device which turns coffee into theorems.”

– Alfréd Rényi

Hello.  Welcome to musingsonmath.com!  My goal when creating this website was to give my high school and college math students a place to go to learn more about the information I presented in class – ideas that we didn’t have time for during the confines of our class time (not necessarily the technical aspects of the class, textbooks do an O.K. job of that).  Rather, what I wanted was a place to go where the more human side of the subject could be explored: the people and events that shaped the thinking and understanding of the mathematicians who discovered (or created) the beautiful world of mathematics.   That doesn’t mean that I don’t ever delve into the mathematics.  I do, from time to time, offer up some more technical posts as well as some more interesting problems to solve.  However, I want this site to show that mathematics is not some technical, dry and emotionally void subject that is written in a complicated and cold language.  Instead, it is a subject that is a lively and colorful, full of interesting characters and fascinating stories that make mathematics into a living, breathing subject to be enjoyed by all.  So, whatever your reason for visiting this site, I hope you enjoy it and learn from it.

Before I leave you to your explorations, just a few last points …

The Navigation Bars:

  • The top menu bar contains my website pages.  On these pages, you can find all sorts of mathematical links, articles, problems, books, gift ideas, etc.
  • The bottom menu bar contains the categories of my posts.

My Top 5 most visited pages and posts:

One last item … new posts can always be found below this Welcome post and to the right listed under “Recent Posts.”

Please feel free to contact me with your suggestions, additions or advice by leaving a comment or sending me an email at musingsonmath@gmail.com.

Enjoy the site!

The Month in Math: August

Interested in the highlights from the historical world of mathematics for the month of August?  How about the answers to these questions?

  • What famous scientist wrote to President Roosevelt on August 2, 1939?
  • What was the subject of the great debate between Tartaglia and Ferrari during this month in 1548?

Click here to find the answers to these questions and more:  August

Looking for a different month?  Click here for all 12 months.

The Month in Math: July

Interested in the highlights from the historical world of mathematics for the month of July?  How about the answers to these questions?

  • What famous mathematician wrote protesting against “the use of an infinite quantity as an actual entity; this is never allowed in mathematics.”?
  • Who was the first man to step foot on the moon during the month of July?

Click here to find the answers to these questions and more:  July

Looking for a different month?  Click here for all 12 months.

The Month in Math: June

Interested in the highlights from the historical world of mathematics for the month of June?  How about the answers to these questions?

Click here to find the answers to these questions and more:  June

Looking for a different month?  Click here for all 12 months.

The Month in Math: May

Interested in the highlights from the historical world of mathematics for the month of May?  How about the answers to these questions?

  • What famous mathematician predicted his own death during the month of May?
  • On May 24, 1973, Pi is calculated to how many decimal places?

Click here to find the answers to these questions and more:  May

Looking for a different month?  Click here for all 12 months.

Mathematical Poetry Month?

It is a relatively well-known fact that, in the United States, the month of April is National Poetry Month.  What is far less-known (unfortunately) is that April is also Mathematics Awareness Month.  Intending to capitalize on the overlapping celebrations, science writer Stephen Ornes proposes that April should become Mathematical Poetry Month.  His compelling argument can be read here:  April Should Be Mathematical Poetry Month.

Should we start a petition????

Why don’t people appreciate math?

“It saddens me that educated people don’t even know that my subject exists.” – Paul Halmos

Why is it that so many people have no idea what mathematics is really about?  Why is it that the general public views math as boring and ugly?  Because most people view mathematicians as human calculators, computing gigantic multiplication problems in their heads.  While, in some rare cases, this is certainly true, I have learned from some brilliant mathematicians who couldn’t even master their times tables.

What the general public doesn’t realize is that mathematics is so much more than computation.   It is about discovering patterns and relationships between ideas.  In many cases, there is something beautiful when a mathematical idea makes a clever connection between two concepts, especially when it is unexpected.

Recently, in an OP-ED piece in the New York Times, Manil Suri attempts to explain what mathematics is about and why it is something to appreciate, much in the same way one appreciates art or music.  As he puts it in his piece,  “you can appreciate art without acquiring the ability to paint, or enjoy a symphony without being able to read music.  Math also deserves to be enjoyed for its own sake, without being constantly subjected to the question, ‘When will I use this?'”

Click here to read his article titled “How to Fall in Love with Math.”  You will not be disappointed.

THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős

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Three weeks from today, math-lovers around the world will be enjoying a new look at Paul Erdős!  June 25th is the release date of the newest book on Paul Erdős, THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős by Deborah Heiligman with illustrations by LeUyen Pham.

I can’t wait!  Click here to read the first review of the book.  Click here to see some amazing illustrations and read an article about the book in the New York Times.  21 days and counting …

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