Math

Grace Hopper and the Democratization of Computer Programming (Women in Science 35)

Grace Hopper and the Democratization of Computer Programming (Women in Science 35)

In a room across the hall from where I teach, a group of a dozen kids between the ages of nine and thirteen are learning how to program in Python, grasping the basics of the language with what can only be described as freakish ease and comfort. It’s quite a disarming sight, and it wouldn’t have been possible if someone, somewhere deep in the the history of computer programming, hadn... »

The stars in our cells

The stars in our cells

A relatively recent study showed that transcription factors tend to hang out in specific areas of the nucleus, clustering like stars in galaxies. And it’s been rattling around in my head as potentially perfect for Mad Art Lab because they do, in fact, cluster like stars in galaxies — the statistical methods used to model both phenomena are exactly the same. It’s one of those rare... »

Julia Robinson and the Cracking of Hilbert’s Tenth Problem (Women in Science 33)

Julia Robinson and the Cracking of Hilbert’s Tenth Problem (Women in Science 33)

For mathematicians, the only thing more exciting than proving a theorem is proving that it can never be proven. These anti-proofs, if you will, stand firmly against all future progress of humanity and state, “No matter how clever you become, what new branches of thought you invent, you’ll never be able to do this. Sorry about it.” The most famous of these is Kurt Gödel’s 19... »

The Illustrated Women In Science: Year One!

The Illustrated Women In Science: Year One!

Thrill to the jungle-crawling entomology of Maria Merian, cheer at the multi-dimensional mathematics of Maryam Mirzakhani, weep at the tragic end of Sofia Kovalevskaya, and gasp at the universe-cracking insights of Emmy Noether!  All 26 of the MadArtLab Women In Science cartoons and essays are now available in one handy volume, dear friends.  With luscious full color interiors and a lovely introdu... »

It Came From Teichmueller Space! The Mathematical Adventures of Maryam Mirzakhani

It Came From Teichmueller Space! The Mathematical Adventures of Maryam Mirzakhani

A square, who works as a lawyer in the two-dimensional world of Flatland, sits down with his hexagonal grandson:   Taking nine squares, each an inch every way, I had put them together so as to make one large square, with a side of three inches, and I had hence proved to my grandson that – though it was impossible to see the inside of the square – yet we might ascertain the number of square in... »

The Woman Who Saved Shakespeare and Helped Win Two Wars: Cryptanalyst Elizebeth Friedman (Women In Science 20)

The Woman Who Saved Shakespeare and Helped Win Two Wars: Cryptanalyst Elizebeth Friedman (Women In Science 20)

Before Elizebeth and William Friedman, American cryptanalysis did not exist. The best thing we had, theoretically, were the occasional musings of Edgar Allen Poe, and even those were decidedly dilettantish put next to the organized efforts existing since the Elizabethan era in England. When World War I came to the United States, the armed forces simply did not know how to deal with the creation of... »

Detail from title page of J.S. Bach's Well-tempered Clavier

SoD X-post: Wikipedia 1, U Chicago News Office 0

[This post originally appeared on School of Doubt. Read it there or catch the beginning below.] I was browsing my news feed today when I came across the following video, posted by the University of Chicago’s News Office.   Since I’m about to get very critical, let me first talk briefly about the things Cheng does well in this video: 1) She gives a mostly understandable layperson&#... »

The Curve Who Became a Witch: The Mathematics of Maria Agnesi (Women In Science 18)

The Curve Who Became a Witch: The Mathematics of Maria Agnesi (Women In Science 18)

If any century would have favorably understood the manic blend of child shaming and twisted pride that is the typical Toddlers and Tiaras pageant parent, it was the Eighteenth. Child prodigies were in, and if you were aching to claw your way into the ranks of the minor nobility, your precocious son or daughter was your meal ticket. Some decades before Leopold Mozart dragged young Wolfgang to any p... »

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