Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Cute Funny Smart Math
Numberless are the world's problems.
~Sophocles (495-405 B.C.)
I was thinking about P vs NP this morning. Due to the complexity of that thought, I decided instead to Google math videos and look for cute or funny math comics.
Whenever I think about math I can't help but be surprised by the concepts I encounter and how they mirror the varying constructs of particle manifestation. At the heart of all numbers is another endless number of complex natural phenomena making unexpected appearances at the juxtaposition of the simple and the complex, at the intersection of being and of not being. It's like, "Now you see me, now you don't."
Math is beautiful, all you have to do is look at a painting or read a poem to see that. Psychologically, it's ambiguity exemplifies a mathematical experience to which we ascribe ordinary words, both because the mathematical terms are too complex for ordinary conversation and two because many of these complexities have yet to be discovered so we simply call them other things.
People who claim math is boring probably don't like surprise parties either. When math reveals an unanticipated result, who can't help but be delighted? The delight comes from the recognition of totally unexpected relationships and unities. Benford's law is a great example of how all these elements combine in a very chilled out way.
If you ask a child to count, they'll start... 1, 2...then pause for effect, and continue up until the last number they can remember. "Look Mom, I counted to 10!"
But think about that 1, 2, for a moment. Astronomer and mathematician Simon Newcomb (1835-1909), discoverer of the "first-digit phenomenon" in 1881, noticed that books of logarithms in the library, which were used for calculations, were considerably dirtier at the beginning (where numbers starting with 1 and 2 were printed) and progressively cleaner throughout. You see this all the time in books when people read the first few chapters then lose interest, but in the case of numbers, it's an indication that numbers starting with 1 and 2 occur more frequently. Rather than get into Newcomb's formula on the probability that a random number begins with a particular digit, I recommend going out and buying lottery tickets that conform to this law so that you don't have to worry about money anymore, which means you'll have more time for math.
Enjoy the show!
Math Geeks Unite!