If you look closely, you’ll see shoutout’s to Blog favorites like the Euler Characteristic, Euler’s Formula, and the Königsberg Bridges Problem (which was when Euler simultaneously invented topology and graph theory!).
Happy Pi Day!
Friend of the Blog and former OU faculty member, Steven Spallone, is now a faculty member at the Indian Institue of Science and Education in Pune, India. Those who know of Steven’s other life as a world famous YJogi won’t be surprised that not only is he living in India and doing mathematics, but he is the co-organizer (with Neha Prabhu) of a a Pi Day version of “The Life of Pi”.
Lest you think this just some class project, we point your attention to coverage by the Indian Express newspaper.
Ironically, Steven is an avowed Tauist. Hey, Steven should write a book called “The Tau of Pi” (trademark! ).
Dr. Jablonski let us know that the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) project has just announced the discovery of the largest known prime number. Remember, a Marsenne Prime is a prime number which can be written as . The GIMPS is a group of volunteers (you too can be one!) who test numbers of that form looking for larger and larger primes. Mostly for fun, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), is offering a $150,000 prize for the first prime with 100 million digits and $250,000 for the first prime with 1 billion digits! Here’s a link to their prize page.
In case you want to check it at home, it is
But we should warn you that it has no less than 17,425,170 digits. To see the whole number click here. To get an idea of how big that number is (and to disabuse you of the notion that you’ll print it out in the computer lab), if you were to print it out in 12 point font on standard 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper, it would run to 5,000 pages!
We also have some “middle America” pride that this Mersenne Prime was found by Dr. Curtis Cooper, a professor at the University of Central Missouri. It should be noted that you don’t need to be a professor to be a part of the GIMPS project, all you need is a computer!
The Internet being interested in all things, the new prime was discussed on MetaFilter. A discussion perhaps best summed up (and definitely won by) by jimmythefish’s wry comment:
I can appreciate this, and I was once again mind-boggled the other day when looking at a comparative illustration between planets in our solar system and the largest stars. I am reminded that my brain is very weak.
This should not come as a surprise, however, because if you hand me a calculator I will probably spell BOOBS with it instead of doing any actual work.
We were delighted to see Ada Lovelace‘s birthday acknowledged by Google yesterday:
She worked closely with Charles Babbage, mathematician and father of the programmable computer. Babbage described Lovelace as the Enchantress of Numbers:
Forget this world and all its troubles and if
possible its multitudinous Charlatans – every thing
in short but the Enchantress of Numbers.
– Babbage about Lovelace in 1843
P.S. If you’d like to impress your English major friends, Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron.
Thinking about grad school? We came across a surprisingly apt description of doing research in grad school using vacuum cleaners. Check it out.
Or if you’d like something in pictures, we suggest Matt Might’s great pictorial guide to perspective on what it means to do a Ph.D. Here’s a teaser:
Amazingly, people somehow usually think grad school is just a souped up version of undergrad. Not so! Check out this handy, dandy chart of Undergrad versus Grad by Bug Girl.
The delightfully low-tech (you can’t beat brown wrapping paper and sharpies!) British version of Vi Hart is James Grime and his co-conspirators at Numberphile. They make “Videos about numbers and stuff”.
Here’s a couple of their videos to get you started:
Why 1 is not a prime.
And the black hole forming Graham’s Number:
In case three Math Clubs in two weeks aren’t enough for you (or if you’re reading this outside the greater Norman area), we thought we’d make this a week of math videos.
First up, we’ve mentioned her fantastic videos before, but we thought we should remind you that Vi Hart is still hard at work keeping the Ritalin folks in business. Apropos to the season, she’s on a Thanksgiving theme these days: