Until the advent of calculus and computing infinite series, not that many digits were added to the ones found by Archimedes for more than a 1,500 years. One major breakthrough was made in 1655 when the English mathematician derived a formula for pi as the product of an infinite series of ratios. Oddly enough, but not that surprising considering the prevalence of pi in nature, researchers from the University of Rochester reached the same formula while they were computing the quantum mechanical energy stats of hydrogen.
The problem is still unsolved.
“Beauty is the first test; there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics,” G. H. Hardy (1877-1947)
By 1918, the Indian born, self-thought mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan was already making headlines all over the world and came, recognized as the most brilliant mathematician of his time. He was born into a poor Brahman family, and with no formal education. Luckily he came across a couple textbook maths, and since he didn’t have enough material, Ramanujan had to find solutions to problems on his own. While still a teenager, Ramanujan independently stated 6,165 theorems, some already known to Western mathematicians, others completely new. In 1914 he arrived at Cambridge on a scholarship, at the insistence of a professor called G. H. Hardy. Ramanujan’s time in England was most fruitful, expressing his talents in continued fractions and hypergeometric series. His health was another matter, and Ramanujan sadly fell ill with tuberculosis. One day, Hardy visited Ramanujan at the hospital as he regularly had before, stepping out of a black cab with the number 1729, “rather a dull one,” Hardy said as he met Ramanujan. The great mathematician begged to differ.
I was in high school when the notion of complex numbers was fed into my vocabulary. None of it made sense! One of my friends remarked “Why on earth did they have to invent a new Number System? Uhh.. Mathematicians!!”. And as distressing as it was, we weren’t able to comprehend why!
Temari (手まり?) balls are an ancient form of art that originated in China and got was introduced to Japan around the 7th century A.D., where it became very popular.
Both bathroom decorators and mathematicians have a reason to rejoice (how often does that happen?). Using a computer algorithm, a group of mathematicians at the University of Washington Bothell discovered the 15th kind of pentagon that can tile in a plane. The 14th was discovered in 1985 by mathematician Rolf Stein, while the previous five before were proven by Majorie Rice, a housewife from San Diego.
In a recent TED talk, Hannah Fry outlines a mathematical formula that predicts long-lasting relationships. In her recent book, The Mathematics of Love, she discusses the findings of psychologist John Gottman who studied hundreds of couples over many years to find out what sets apart the happy couples from the miserable. Gottman than enlisted the help of a mathematician who correlated all the data the psychologists gathered and came up with an empirical formula that seems to predict if a couple will be happy together.
Whaaaat? It’s just a matter of math, really. Fold an A4 once and it will be twice as thick, fold it again and it will be four times as thick as it initially was. Turns out, according to Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, if you do this 103 times the sheet’s thickness will be larger than the observable Universe: 93 billion light-years. To do
In 2002, Jason Padgett was brutally attacked outside a karaoke bar, getting a brain concussion and a severe case of PTSD. But this may have actually been the best thing that happened to him – the brain injury turned him into a mathematical genius, and made him see the world differently, through a geometrical lens.