AIArt InquisitionPhotography

AI: Did your math class look like this?

Caption contest:

Below the break is a baffling image. I have no idea what is going on in it or why such a scene might have been staged.  The only think I know is that the dresses are painted with mathematic iconography.

Give this image a story. The format and length is entirely up to you. The responses will be judged by me next week and the victor will receive everlasting internet glory.









Note: If anyone actually knows the actual source for this image please let us know.

Previous post

Sita Sings, Nina Rings

Next post

Creepy Robot Head Singin' the Hits



Ryan Consell is a skeptical artist, tap-dancing armorer, juggling scientist, rock-climbing writer, sword-fighting math teacher, uni-cycling gamer, fire-spinning academic and devout nerd. He has a Masters in Applied science, most of a bachelors in Fine Arts, and a very short attention span. He is the author of How Not to Poach a Unicorn and half of the masochistic comedy duo that is Creative Dissonance. Follow him on Twitter @StudentofWhim


  1. August 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    After an hour of searching, I found it.

    Its a picture of an annual play performed at Vassar college in the 1800s, then a women’s college, called “Trig Ceremonies”. The photo is from 1889.

    The sophomores who finished their required mathematics warned the freshmen of the rigors to come in an annual play called the Trig Ceremonies.

  2. August 15, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Oops, there should be quotes around that last bit. Thought the blockquote tag worked.

  3. August 15, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Really interesting, Vassar college was one of the first universities to truly offer women a decent education in mathematics. Apparently, the first woman recognized as deserving a PhD in Mathematics studied at Johns Hopkins University, and completed her research in 1882. The board of trustees however refused to give her her degree, because she was a woman. So while Christine Ladd-Franklin deserved to be the first female PhD of Mathematics, the honor went to Charlotte Barnum, who got hers in 1895 from Yale.

    I like this quote from Achsah Mount Ely, chair of the department from 1887 to 1904, best of all though:

    “The aim in all courses is to cultivate habits of exact, sustained and independent reasoning, of precision and clearness in the statement of convictions and the reasons upon which they depend; to rely upon insight, originality and judgment rather than on memory.”

  4. August 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    This is what Skepchick HQ looks like every thursday night.

  5. August 15, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Which one are you, Amy?

  6. August 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    “Kids, this is what happens to you when you fall asleep in math class.

    So, yeah. Don’t do that.”

  7. August 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    “Whether a modern student could ever gain similar powers from mathematical research alone, was still to be seen. Suceess, Gilman added, might lead to dangerous and unthinkable situations, for who could foretell the conditions pervading an adjacent but normally inaccessible dimension?”

    -Dreams in the Witch House by HP Lovecraft

  8. August 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I’m not sure you could have posted a tensor photo. I’m sure it’s just local behaviour but the figures in that picture are integral to my dreams of exponential decay.

  9. August 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I’m the one in the black dress with the hat.

  10. August 16, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Hmmm, my previous effort wasn’t really a caption. How about: The best way to describe a model’s complex curves is through mathematics.

  11. August 22, 2011 at 9:27 am

    It seems we have two winners.

    Mr. Thumbtack wins for being awesome at enlightening us with actual facts and drawing an impressive, if distressing parallel with an H.P. Lovecraft story.

    Coelecanth wins for having the best response to the question and good punmanship.

    You may both demand high fives from any MAL contributors.

Leave a reply