Bookmarked What Happens If a Space Elevator Breaks by Rhett Allain (WIRED)

These structures are a sci-fi solution to the problem of getting objects into orbit without a rocketβ€”but you don’t want to be under one if the cable snaps.

Rhett Allain discusses the physics involved in building a space elevator and what would happen if it were to break.

Liked 17 Equations That Changed the World (

One of the masters of writing mathematician Ian Stewart wrote about 17 equations that he believes have changed the world. In his book, In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World, he discusses each equation in an engaging and practical manner, and he gives a number of illustrations of how those equations have and are impacting our lives.

Replied to Spain builds submarine 70 tons too heavy after putting a decimal in the wrong place (

A new, Spanish-designed submarine has a weighty problem: The vessel is more than 70 tons too heavy, and officials fear if it goes out to sea, it will not be able to surface.

And a former Spanish official says the problem can be traced to a miscalculation β€” someone apparently put a decimal point in the wrong place.

I guess this is a good reminder why mathematics is important?

Liked I taught maths for 25 years, but I won’t go back to the classroom. Here’s why by Robin Nagy (ABC News)

We need to give teachers the environment they need to be able to thrive, and we need to recognise and encourage the importance of teachers’ individual personality and character in inspiring the next generation of students.


Listened Stephen Wolfram recounts the entire history of mathematics in 90 minutes from Boing Boing

This is a fascinating lecture, and it also epitomizes Wolfram in that it is a magnificent feat that would have benefited immensely from editorial reflection. Wolfram announces that’s he’s giving the lecture off the top of his head, and as far as that goes, it’s incredibly impressive. And yet…it makes you wonder, if he had actually prepared a detailed crib or even written the speech out, how much more fluid would it have been? Would the transitions be smoother? Would he spend less time fumbling for names or dates, or backtracking?

Stephen Wolfram takes a walk through the history of Mathematics. This is a fascinating ramble through time and a reminder of the way in which the present is built on the discoveries of the past. It is interesting to think of this alongside Joel Speranza’s breakdown of mathematical ideas.
Replied to When you Assume you make an ASS out of u and ME (But sometimes it’s really useful for doing Maths and stuff) – Joel Speranza (Joel Speranza)

Because, if you ASSUME things without thinking about it, you’ll make an ASS out of U and ME. But if you ASSUME and you DO think about it… well that’s just good maths.

This reminds me in part of a bit out of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Black Swan:

We love the tangible, the confirmation, the palpable, the real, the visible, the concrete, the known, the seen, the vivid, the visual, the social, the embedded, the emotionally laden, the salient, the stereotypical, the moving, the theatrical, the romanced, the cosmetic, the official, the scholarly-sounding verbiage (b******t), the pompous Gaussian economist, the mathematicized crap, the pomp, the Académie Française, Harvard Business School, the Nobel Prize, dark business suits with white shirts and Ferragamo ties, the moving discourse, and the lurid. Most of all we favor the narrated. Alas, we are not manufactured, in our current edition of the human race, to understand abstract matters—we need context. Randomness and uncertainty are abstractions. We respect what has happened, ignoring what could have happened. In other words, we are naturally shallow and superficial—and we do not know it.(Page 132)

Liked Where Proof, Evidence and Imagination Intersect in Math | Quanta Magazine (Quanta Magazine)

Mathematical models are used everywhere in science and can even be turned inward to study mathematics itself. They are incredibly powerful tools that allow us to trade a problem we don’t fully understand for one we have a better handle on.

But using models is inherently tricky. We can never be certain that our model behaves enough like the thing we are actually trying to understand to draw conclusions about it. Nor can we be sure that our model is similar enough in the ways that really matter. So it can be hard to know that the evidence we collect from the model is truly evidence about the thing we want to know about.

Bookmarked β€œReal-World” Math Is Everywhere or It’s Nowhere by By Dan Meyer (dy/dan)

Amare is looking at these 16 parabolas. Her partner Geoff has chosen one and she has to figure out which one by asking yes-or-no questions. There are lots of details here. She’s trying to foc…

Dan Meyer on differentiating between ‘real’ models versus ‘non-real’ models in Mathematics. The problem with this is that from a process point of view it is all real learning.