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If you have been following this blog, you will have noticed that I have not updated it in a very long time. My love of math hasn't faded one bit, but my time has been occupied by another pursuit.

I am now the CEO and founder of Groennfell Meadery in Colchester, Vermont. As of this date, we are awaiting approval from the government to start producing mead. You can check out our website (and Facebook and Twitter and all that fun stuff) here: www.groennfell.com.

I know that mead is a far cry from mathematics (except in the dictionary), but since I am quite fond of both, maybe my readers are too!

 
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So we know what prime numbers are, and we have some idea of how they're important.  (Remember, they're the building blocks of all other positive whole numbers.)  But why are mathematicians so fascinated with them?  Isn't it maybe bordering on an unhealthy obsession?  I mean, there are so many other numbers out there; why focus so much energy on only a tiny fraction of them?

Well, check out this article about Ulam's Spiral.  It's a perfect example of how prime numbers are at the same time incredibly amazing and frustratingly elusive.
 
Remember my video on how to count like an ancient Greek?  Well, Vi Hart has just posted a video with some more great visual multiplication.  Check it out:
 
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http://www.thetrophywifelife.com/im-too-pretty-to-do-mat/
Apparently I missed the memo.  Maybe I'm just not pretty enough to be on the mailing list.

The store Forever 21 sells a magnet that reads, "I'm too pretty to do math."  You can read about it (with excellent commentary) on the blog Sociological Images.

This reminds me of the sad fact that even though more girls than boys initially signed up for my higher level high school calculus course, all but three of those girls dropped it when they found out how difficult the class would be.  I almost dropped it myself, but the teacher convinced me to stay.  I am so glad she did.  

In my years studying math and tutoring math, I've found that girls more often than boys have low self-esteem about their ability to do math, and they tend to just quit when the going gets tough.  There is nothing different about girls' and boys' ability to do math, and you can be sure that looks have nothing to do with it.
 
Pendulums are fascinating mathematical and physical objects.  We use them all the time, though we don't usually realize it.  Early clocks relied on the regularity of pendulums to keep time accurately.  Swings are pendulums.  Did you ever notice that the long rope swings swing farther and slower than the regular swings at the playground?  When I was a kid, we used to throw the swing over the bar to shorten the chains (at the disapproval of our teachers).  We figured out that this made the swing go really fast.

So I've got you thinking about pendulums and what you know about them... I now share with you one of the most beautiful mathematical videos I've ever seen:
 
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Colbert
I just learned that there is a type of number named after Stephen Colbert.  It is a specific kind of megaprime (a megaprime is a prime with at least one million digits).  Rather than explain exactly what a Colbert number is, I'll just let you read about it here.  This site also includes several video clips of Colbert talking about math (though the folks at Comedy Central seem to be as confused as the rest of the population about the fact that science is not the same as math).  Be sure to check out the second clip--it is by far my favorite, and it coincidentally has a lot to do with my next video!

If you're interested in learning more about what Sierpinski numbers are, you can read about them here.

 
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If you've read many of my other posts, it's probably become obvious that I enjoy spatial reasoning.  It's fun because it involves creating images in your head and knowing how things work together.

One of my favorite childhood toys was this set called Gearopolis.  It was made by Discovery Toys, and it only seems to be available used now.  But all is not lost for fellow gear-lovers who want to play with a toy like this.  Gear Tech is a similar set (and it even includes belts to connect gears!), and it's available from Amazon.com.

 
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Several of the students I tutor have trouble when it comes to understanding graphs and charts.  I have the feeling that they only think they have trouble because the graphs and charts they're reading are on the ACT, and no one feels calm and happy when reading charts on the ACT.

GraphJam is a hilarious website that has graphs and charts of all types--and none of the graphs are serious.  If you think you don't understand graphs, check out this website, and you'll change your mind.  I promise.


Click here to read more.
 
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Okay, so I can't pretend I haven't noticed that when most people hear I do math, they say, "Oh, I hate math!"  And it doesn't escape my attention that most of the students I tutor don't really like math even if they're good at it.  The fact is, most people don't think math is very important.

A student I worked with the other day said that her least favorite subject was math because she didn't like having to do problems and learn concepts that she would never use again.

 
Fail Blog posted a win yesterday that perfectly captures the elation (and frustration) of mathematics.  Check it out:
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