“Measurement”, by Paul Lockhart

From Harvard University Press:

For seven years, Paul Lockhart’s A Mathematician’s Lament enjoyed a samizdat-style popularity in the mathematics underground, before demand prompted its 2009 publication to even wider applause and debate. An impassioned critique of K–12 mathematics education, it outlined how we shortchange students by introducing them to math the wrong way. Here Lockhart offers the positive side of the math education story by showing us how math should be done.Measurement offers a permanent solution to math phobia by introducing us to mathematics as an artful way of thinking and living.

In conversational prose that conveys his passion for the subject, Lockhart makes mathematics accessible without oversimplifying. He makes no more attempt to hide the challenge of mathematics than he does to shield us from its beautiful intensity. Favoring plain English and pictures over jargon and formulas, he succeeds in making complex ideas about the mathematics of shape and motion intuitive and graspable. His elegant discussion of mathematical reasoning and themes in classical geometry offers proof of his conviction that mathematics illuminates art as much as science.

Lockhart leads us into a universe where beautiful designs and patterns float through our minds and do surprising, miraculous things. As we turn our thoughts to symmetry, circles, cylinders, and cones, we begin to see that almost anyone can “do the math” in a way that brings emotional and aesthetic rewards. Measurement is an invitation to summon curiosity, courage, and creativity in order to experience firsthand the playful excitement of mathematical work.



Moebius Noodles: Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd

A highly unusual and original book for parents of young children, written by Yelena McManaman, Maria Droujkova, and Ever Salazar, and published under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. From promotional material:

 How do you want your child to feel about math? Confident, curious and deeply connected? Then Moebius Noodles is for you. It offers advanced math activities to fit your child’s personality, interests, and needs.

Can you enjoy playful math with your child? Yes! The book shows you how to go beyond your own math limits and anxieties to do so. It opens the door to a supportive online community that will answer your questions and give you ideas along the way.

Learn how you can create an immersive rich math environment for your baby. Find out ways to help your toddler discover deep math in everyday experiences. Play games that will develop your child’s sense of happy familiarity with mathematics.

A five-year-old once asked us, “Who makes math?” and jumped for joy at the answer, “You!” Moebius Noodles helps you take small, immediate steps toward the sense of mathematical power.

You and your child can make math your own. Together, make your own math!

Moebius Noodles run a crowd-sourced project: translation of the book in  languages ranging from French to Turkish. Please join here!

Barry Cooper: “The Universal Machine” at the New Diorama …

…. the poignant and hugely entertaining theatre production of “The Universal Machine” at the New Diorama in central London. On April 23 there was a special performance with various various prominent ATY supporters in the audience. It was a great treat to see the nieces of Alan Turing there, familiar to many from their engaging TV interviews, with fascinating memories of their uncle Alan.

The uniformly wonderful company, and Diorama staff, must have been really relieved to hear all the positive comments. The music and cleverly crafted lyrics gave a special lightness to the essentially sad story, and both intensified, and lifted the impact to a new level. Turing’s niece Janet was especially happy to see her grandmother (Turing’s mother Sara) played so brilliantly by Judith Paris. Judith also attracted high praise from The Guardian.

There were lots of reviews in the national press. There was a thoughtful piece by Daisy Bowie-Sell in the Telegraph: http://bit.ly/ZLaiWH with our favourite review by the ever perceptive Libby Purves in The Times: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/stage/theatre/article3751815.ece

If you live within reach of London, don’t miss it! Some nights are already sold out, but it’s on at New Diorama (just 15 minutes walking from Kings Cross) until May 11: http://newdiorama.com/whats-on/the-universal-machine

What was the first bit of mathematics that made you realize that math is beautiful?

An interesting discussion at Stackexchange. The question is:

I’m a children’s book writer and illustrator, and I want to to create a book for young readers that exposes the beauty of Mathematics. I recently read Paul Lockhart’s essay “The Mathematician’s Lament,” and found that I, too, lament the uninspiring quality of my elementary math education.

I want to make a book that discredits the notion that math is merely a series of calculations, and inspires a sense of awe and genuine curiosity in young readers.

However, I myself am mathematically unsophisticated.

What was the first bit of mathematics that made you realize that math is beautiful?

For the purposes of this children’s book, accessible answers would be appreciated.

And here is a randomly chosen answer with other contributor’s comment:

A: I found it completely amazing that the angles in a triangle always added up to 180 degrees. No matter how you drew a triangle, you could measure the angles with a protractor and they always add up to about 180 degrees, like magic. Even more amazing when I realized it wasn’t some rule of thumb or approximation, but true in some deeper sense for the ideal, platonic triangle.


C: When I came home and told my father, he drew a triangle on the skin of an orange. All angles were 90°. I was deeply disturbed.


Cryptography competition goes nationwide in honour of Alan Turing

From Manchester University Staff Net:

Schools in the Wirral, Devon and Buckinghamshire have provided the winning teams of codebreakers in this year’s Alan Turing Cryptography Competition.

Alan Turing

Launched in 2012 as part of the Alan Turing Centenary, the Cryptography Competition is now an annual event in the School of Mathematics.

The story follows the adventures of Mike and Ellie, fresh from discovering the long-lost ‘Turing Treasure’ in last year’s competition, as they get caught up in a new cryptographic adventure around The University of Manchester, involving a mysterious ancient artefact – the Egyptian Enigma! Students were required to solve six codes to complete the competition.

This year’s winning teams were:

1st place Team ‘G15’ Calday Grange Grammar School, Wirral
2nd place Team ‘Room40’ Torquay Boys’ Grammar School
3rd place Team ‘SmileyFaces:)’ Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, Marlow

Dr Charles Walkden from the School of Mathematics said: “Once again we – together with SkyScanner, the competition’s sponsor – have been delighted with the amount of excitement and enthusiasm that the competition has generated, with almost 2,000 young cryptographers from all over the UK taking part to solve some fiendishly difficult codes.

“We’ve also had people from Australia, South Africa and North America (as well as several European countries) following the competition, showing that there’s a global interest in the life of Alan Turing and his contributions to society. We’re already planning next year’s competition, starting in January 2014, which promises to be even bigger and better!”

Although the 2013 competition has now closed, you can still view the story and clues at:

Maths on Trial, by Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez



Look inside. Book description:

In the wrong hands, math can be deadly. Even the simplest numbers can become powerful forces when manipulated by politicians or the media, but in the case of the law, your liberty–and your life–can depend on the right calculation.
In “Math on Trial,” mathematicians Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez describe ten trials spanning from the nineteenth century to today, in which mathematical arguments were used–and disastrously misused–as evidence. They tell the stories of Sally Clark, who was accused of murdering her children by a doctor with a faulty sense of calculation; of nineteenth-century tycoon Hetty Green, whose dispute over her aunt’s will became a signal case in the forensic use of mathematics; and of the case of Amanda Knox, in which a judge’s misunderstanding of probability led him to discount critical evidence–which might have kept her in jail. Offering a fresh angle on cases from the nineteenth-century Dreyfus affair to the murder trial of Dutch nurse Lucia de Berk, Schneps and Colmez show how the improper application of mathematical concepts can mean the difference between walking free and life in prison.
A colorful narrative of mathematical abuse, “Math on Trial” blends courtroom drama, history, and math to show that legal expertise isn’t always enough to prove a person innocent.

Art and the Mobius strip: a mostly hands-on experience

An LKL Maths-Art workshop
by Simon Morgan and John Sharp
Thursday 11th April 2013, 6.00 – 7.30pm

The Möbius strip is a well known mathematical object in topology. Among artists, its curious properties have been often explored, with Max Bill and M. C. Escher among the most famous exponents. After a brief survey of this art and a basic mathematical overview, we will explore new aspects of this fascinating object as a starting point for potential new art. The session will be mainly practical because the properties of the
Möbius strip can only be explored through hands-on experience. Please bring scissors, tape, and large paper sheets (e.g. old newspapers)!

SIMON MORGAN is a mathematician with a career-long interest in the connections between mathematics, art and education. He has taught and researched mathematics in the UK and the USA, including at the University of Minnesota and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

JOHN SHARP is a researcher, writer and teacher on mathematics and art, and is well
known for the sculptural forms known as Sliceforms and Dforms, and for his work on anamorphosis. He is co-organiser of the LKL Maths-Art seminars.

TIME: 6.00 to 7.30pm
PLACE: London Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald St, London, WC1N 3QS
[Travel information & maps at: http://bit.ly/LKL-MathsArt-venue]

On the Origin of Mathematics and Art in Prehistoric Times

An London Knowledge Lab Maths-Art Seminar
by Francisco González Redondo
Thursday 14th February 2013, 6.00 – 7.30pm

According to the standard view, the history of Art begins in the Upper Palaeolithic era, in the Aurignacian period in Europe, roughly 40,000 years ago. By that time, our ancestors had developed the capability of symbolic thinking, an indicator of behavioural modernity that constituted a significant revolution. But together with horses, deer, goats, bison and mammoths painted on walls (Parietal Art), carved on stone or engraved on bone artifacts (Portable Art), we also find abstract paintings and engravings which contain non-representational graphic marks which can only be understood from a very specific point of view: Mathematics. Indeed, the interpretation of such symbolic register as tallies, calendars, astronomical notations, mnemonic devices and, even, cardinal and ordinal numbers, is experiencing increasing acceptance among archaeologists. In this Seminar we will witness how those first artists, members of our same species, with our same mental capabilities, registered both their artistic and mathematical thinking.

FRANCISCO A. GONZÁLEZ REDONDO is qualified in mathematics, philosophy of science (PhD 1992), and history of mathematics, science and technology (PhD 2000). He has published more than 100 articles and books in the historical field. Since 1993 he is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Madrid’s Complutense University.

TIME: 6.00 to 7.30pm
PLACE: London Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald St,
London, WC1N 3QS
[Travel information & maps at: http://bit.ly/LKL-MathsArt-venue ]