Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays and Newton's Day!

Did you know that today is also Newton's Day? He was born on Christmas Day but because of calendar changes his birthdate has been moved around. Anyway - it is good to know that Cambridge University has digitized Newton's papers and they can be seen here:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mathematics elsewhere

Thank you for all the greetings about Euler Prize! I remember how news spread about my book winning Diagram Prize - in a day it was around the globe - the oddest title of 2009 is Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes. :-) News about Euler Prize are spreading slowly but I have found some nice mentions of the book:in German Science Blog, (author does not know that one of my crocheted planes is in Germany right now - in a show in Darmstadt), Edinburgh Science Festival (I was in Edinburgh when I was writting the book, and there are pictures from there in a book!), Images des mathematiques - (this was actually the first one after MAA anouncement).

Talking about France - there is unique exhibit there now - Mathematics:A Beautiful Elswhere

On the other side of Atalantic a mathematical art contest "This is My Math" organized by McGraw-Hill was for very beginners in art and in math :-) - hopefully early start will keep young minds longer focused on math.

Robert Fathauer's art exhibit Ars GEometrica is open in Budapest, December 5-February 24, 2012.

Digital print. Image size 11" x 14". 2004. Robert Fathauer

Knitted Napier's Bones by Pat Ashworth, Ben Ashworth, and Steve Plummer:

here is how to use them, but if you want to see more of their awsome designs go to Wooly Thoughts

Recently I learned that Google is showing some love to math lovers.
I do feel know like compiling "news digest", which is perhaps news for me because the end of the semester was so full that I did not have much time to spend online. Just one more new link - this is for crocheters - Ancient patterns digitized. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2012 Euler Prize!

It is my great surprise and honor to announce that "Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes" are chose by Mathematical Association of Americas to receive 2012 Euler Prize.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is already Thanksgiving! Time has gone very fast and  I truly had no time for a blog.
However today is a day for thanks and I sincerely wish to thank all of you who visit this blog!

On of my works is in a show Entlang des Fadens: Das Textile als Medium der zeitgenössischen Kunst at Kunstarchiv, Darmstad. Another little piece made its way to Sicily and is included in interesting project Crochet-Itinerante. Here is this project so far:

I am very happy that Helen Tian volunteered to help me with crochet for my next project. My shoulder still is not allowing to crochet too much - I tried to finish some project and at least could crochet some. Looking through my other projects I found one unfinished knitting one. Well, I have a volunteer helper for that one also:

My creativity has been suspended due to teaching this semester and numerous appointments with people who are helping me to get my shoulder to work properly. Can creativity in math be compared with Shakespeare? Here is a video where few men are discussing this issue - interesting that they did not think about inviting any woman to this discussion...
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If you want to spend more time on this issue - here is 90 min program Mysteries of the Mathematical Universe.

Some interesting links:
Leonardo's Formula explains why trees don't splinter
Wired has published what they think are 9 equations every geek should know
Adventures in N-th Dimension

and this one:

the capitalist network who owns and rules the world

Friday, November 11, 2011


Nature wants to be "hyperbolic" - to have negative curvature to withstand great depth -
Scientists plumbing the depth of the Mariana Trench - the deepest part of the ocean on the planet - have identified gigantic amoebas lurking miles and miles beneath the waters.
The creatures are called xenophyophores, and scientists from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego spotted them in the cold, crushing depths 6.6 miles beneath the white caps.
(Discovery News)

Tumultous ocean is quite different from this beautiful mirror symmetry last Sunday at Walden Pond
A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature.
It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures
the depth of his own nature. - Thoreau

from the chapter "The Ponds" in Walden


Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs!

"We're here to make a dent in the universe. Otherwise why even be here." Steve Jobs

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bill Thurston - some thoughts about mathematics

These are exercepts from Bill Thurston's notes for the seminar Topics in Topology which started on August 29, 2011 (used by permission from the author).
Mathematics often progresses in waves, where flocks of mathematicians cluster around topics that are currently undergoing rapid development, or have recently seen big developments. Group cohesion is maintained by conferences they attend, as well as visits, talks, and collaborations. They often know many of the same mathematical ideas, and it is common for mathematicians to mainly tune out for topics outside their shared knowledge of their flock. Some mathematicians participate in two or more flocks. Going against the flocking trend, there are also many mathematicians who work in a more solitary style, often persevering doggedly on topics they've become fascinated with. They often participate in one or more flocks, but they maintain an interest not widely shared by their peers.

Here is one downside of the flocking behavior: a great part of the propogation of mathematical understanding is by face-to-face discussions and oral tradition, because mathematical papers are often much more technical, tedious, and denatured compared to how people really think about the ideas when they are actively working on them and developing them, Participants in a flock read each other's papers, but often this is made much easier and more natural because fo their shared background. It is much harder for someone not already versed in the basics of a topic to understand from a technical paper what it is all about. Different flocks use different language to discuss similar mathematical phenomena; people have a big decoding problem when they jump to papers written in a different tradition.

We take in things geometrically bu do not really have adequate ways of communicating these things in the same way.

Mathematical tradition has a vast breadth. My experiences have led me to believe that in principle mathematics is quite unified, with almost any topic potentially connected to almost any other topic, but that the connections are often disguised and undeveloped.
I didn't start out with this mental image of mathematics as highly connected. As an undergraduate and graduate student, I had many interests that would distract and divert me, and that I wanted to pursue. I became frustrated by all the loose ends, and I had a mental image of mathematics (and science) as something like a tree, or perhaps like a hyperbolic space, spreading out exponentially in a quickly unworkable number of directions. .... I often found myself getting sidetracked by some question or remark a professor or fellow student would throw out, and I'd spend days trying to work out an understanding of a small question or topic thjat I became fascinated by. I'd chide myself for wasting my time, instead of following along and giving more mind to the important things I was supposed to be learning.
At the time, I didn't think the side topics led anywhere special, but over the course of my career, again and again, the mathematical side-branches that I pursued enough to gain some insight have connected, often in significant ways, to other more mainstream branches of mathematics that I was interested in. I've seen enough occasions where I or others developed surprising interconnections that I think potential connections are quite common.
A major difficulty in the development of connections is not only that there is limited intermingling between different flocks of mathematicians, but also flocks, like individuals, have a limited life-span: topics and points of view often disappear from sight as flocks of mathematicians dissipate and move on to fresher feeding rounds, and solitary mathematicians also move on or go out of circulation.
Mathematics is about teaching human brain how to think. When your brain is educated, your can see much more interesting things and connections.

These thoughts echoed with the Forward Bill Thurston wrote to my book Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes - it is possible to read it by clicking Look Inside!
W. Thurston On Proof and Progress in Mathematics
Mathematical Education

About photos: first one is in Stewart Park, Ithaca, NY, the others are from my recent trip to Canada.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

where "hyperbolic crochet" started

Yesterday I came back from Pennsylvania. I was at the place where I started to crochet hyperbolic planes. The very first one was crocheted in June 1997 during geometry workshop in Cornell University, in Ithaca, but the next one and the first model of hyperbolic pair of pants where crocheted in our camping place in the picture above. The tiny cabin is gone, only its former place still can be seen. No memorial signs :-) .

The outdoor kitchen and "dining room" our family was using then is still the same, just by now two cabins at both ends of it are added.

This swimming pool which is used by all community members is also essential in early history of crocheted hyperbolic planes - in summer 1997 I spent many hours at the pool side while my two daughters were learning to swim and improving their English. We arrived in United States just before Christmas in 1996 and they did not know any English. When in fall of 1997 they returned to school, they had no more problems with American English and were correcting me who was taught to speak a proper British.

This is a view from the poolside in Mc Corkle Tree Farm I was watching while crocheting hyperbolic planes for my upcoming class in Cornell.

The only "hyperbolic" thing one could find there this time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

beauty in mathematics

I am teaching a course this summer in Cornell called Prove It! Very intense - in 6 weeks we are covering equivalent to one semester. Not much time for blogging because I have never taught this course before and I do want to show my students some elegance in mathematical proofs and in mathematics. Today we are talking about the proofs, and this is a picture of E8, more about it here.

Just couple more recent links on beauty of mathematics:

The Unreasonable Beauty of Mathematics

Aperiodical Tilings in Mexico City

Gardening by the Numbers

Some cool videos about math and art connections from MoMath

Monday, June 13, 2011

what's new

There is such an amazing talent and creativity in the world and it is great to see it any possible ways to come out. In Pasadena now until August 21st in Williamson Gallery will be an exhibit Hyperbolic: Reef, Rubbish, Reason. In Pasadena Star there is a nice review and pictures from the show. Crochet Coral Reefs keep growing - currently The Maine Reef is growing, crocheters are busy in Asheville and Honolulu.

I have some new ideas and my fingers are itching to start a new piece ,but ... my creativity has to turn back to teaching mathematics - on June 27th I will start teaching six week course Prove It! which I have not taught before and this is first time when it is offered in Cornell Summer session. My right arm is still hurting. No crochet or knitting for a while - it is hard enough to type. I am working on getting my arm to be able to write on a board - still teach old fashion way :-) I am very hopeful to avoid surgery but have to have another cortisone shot to cut inflammation so I can do more exercising it. Crocheting is not included on that list. At least I can still take pictures and learn about some amazing talents.

I was in New York City before the heat wave, so Saturday was pleasant. Did not know that there was some unusual art opening in Manhattan - toddler Aelita Andre has an art exhibit and that night 9 of her paintings were sold for $30 000, more here
here is a video:

How many more such "prodigies of color" we would have if more children could have such an exceptional opportunity to play so freely with colors?
Next day - Sunday night, June 5th, we turned on TV PBS station and there was a concert - the star was another child Jackie Evancho who will have her CD "Dream with me" release tomorrow. This is a video of her performing Nessun Dorma:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Geometric Manifolds for Hyperbolic: Reefs, Rubbish, Reason

Yesterday seven of my works started their way to Los Angeles where they will part of the exhibit Hyperbolic: Reefs, Rubbish, Reason.  The show curated by The Institute For Figuring will be held at Art Center College of Design in the Williamson Gallery, June 6-August 21, 2011. The IFF has decided that it will  be the last major Reef show they do and at the same time it'll be a homage to hyperbolic geometry.

Why there are more than seven pictures? Manifolds come in different forms and shapes and we have to train our eyes to recognize them, so - which are the seven different ones?  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

toujours penser à Paris

Still thinking of Paris and keeping up with my little French learning new words and expressions. I found a great helper in that - Kristin Espinasse's book Words in a French Life based on her blog French Word a Day. This book is helping me: learning French words and expressions; learning from an experienced blogger, and her cultural comparisons - American versus French - is prompting me to go over my own experience adapting to American life. But that would be a different story.... These are "out of date" memories but I have been trying to keep away from my computer - one of the things I have to do to encourage my shoulder to heal. I returned to exercises in pool, going to physical therapy, keeping up with exercises at home and going for long walks. But today is so rainy day that nothing can be done outside and it is Sunday, so I decided to open a picture folder called Paris and to look into sub folder named street scenes.

I still have seen the Statue of Liberty in New York City only from Staten Island ferry or Manhattan, but in Paris had a chance to get close to it. In appreciation for the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, on July 4, 1889 Americans living in Paris erected a small replica, about 35 feet high, of the Statue of Liberty. It is mounted next to the Pont de Grenelle, a bridge crossing the Seine, 1.5 km South of the Eiffel Tower. Not too many tourists obviously try to get close to this statue, so there is a camp of homeless people next to it. But there is actually quite nice walk on Isle de Grenelle towards the Eiffel Tower that allows to appreciate the ironwork and sculptures on bridges.
To get around Paris the best way is to buy Paris Pass. Which one to choose, really depends how long one is staying. We had weekly passes and it is good to know that instead of sightseeing bus, you can choose Bus No.69 which covers most of "tourist objects". The other option is to walk around which I enjoyed a lot. To drive in Paris is possible - there are lots of cars on streets, but you can choose this option if you have superb parking skills. Some examples of necessary parking can be seen in pictures.

If your car is an art work, then may be you are allowed to park in No Parking zone
No wonder that people choose to live on Seine where parking is not so complicated as on streets. Some of these houseboats are for rent - approximately 470 euros for 2 nights...

Some houseboats even have a little garden, modern kitchen and fireplace...
During our stay in Paris we were more traditional and rented a studio apartment in Le Marais, near Hotel de Sully, across from Eglise Saint Paul and next to Metro station Saint Paul (opened in 1900). Staying in the apartment gave some illusion of "living in Paris", of course, walking on the street I was missing necessary companion, so I could not pass for la véritable parisienne.

These little friends are cute and I do like dogs but I could not stop to wonder in Paris how come that these little dogs are leaving so big piles after them. These fancy ladies did not have any plastic bags or desire to clean up after their showpieces.
Well, streets are being cleaned by running water - they just open faucets and let a stream of water to run and wash everything away. I do not know how often it happens, so watching your step while walking in Paris is useful.
Sometimes walking can take to unexpected places like this little path next to Palais Decouverte - Paris Science Museum since 1937. I mentioned it in one of my previous entries.
I felt like I am entering a secret garden.

I noticed two middle age people a man and a woman. First I thought that they were here on a date but then I noticed - they were not talking but watching something, and I decided to satisfy my curiosity. The creature they were observing was a muskrat.
The man soon left, and the woman looked at me and finding me trustworthy took out a carrot from her bag. The muskrat obviously was expecting this move and gladly accepted the treat. I said in French
Il reconnaît vous. The woman answered me that yes, she comes here every day. I felt excited that I have a chance to practice my minimal French but not for long. The woman switched to English and told me that she teaches philosophy in Sorbonne and visits this place on her way home. She was kind but soon I felt that I am interrupting her connection with her pet and I walked away.

 The sun was going down, and it was time for me "to go home" to prepare for "opera night".