As a kid I spent a lot of time on the Maryland shore. Squinting out across the endless blue expanse, I could have sworn I saw the edge of Portugal once or twice. I was shocked recently to learn that my childhood imagination had it all wrong. (Truly, a first.) With telescopic vision, I wouldn’t see the coast of Europe.…
More than a thousand years before the first telescopes, Babylonian astronomers tracked the motion of planets across the night sky using simple arithmetic. But a newly translated text reveals that these ancient stargazers also used a far more advanced method, one that foreshadows the development of calculus over a…
Cutting a pizza can be a stressful experience: are the slices equal? Now, a team of mathematicians has found some new ways to cut pizzas into exotic slices, while still ensuring that the all-important size considerations are met.
Do all the presents you give away over the holidays look like they were wrapped in the dark? Don’t worry: this video features a series of mathematical tricks to help you ensure your gifts always look neatly wrapped.
This week’s puzzle is not about gravity, though you’d be excused for suspecting as much. After all, when most people read “Isaac Newton” and “tree” in the same sentence, they think also of falling apples. But this week’s puzzle, which is widely attributed to Newton, is actually an exercise in orderly arboriculture.
Matchstick puzzles (aka toothpick puzzles) typically involve adding to, subtracting from, or rearranging an initial configuration of matchsticks to create another, target configuration of matchsticks. Some of these puzzles can get rather complicated. This matchstick puzzle is more straightforward than most, but…
Here's a fun demonstration from Cornell maths professor Steven Strogatz. Take a clementine (or any spherical, peelable fruit) and trace around its widest part four times. Then peel it. Flatten out the peelings as best you can and divvy them up evenly among the circles. Voilà! Tangible proof that the the surface area…
No, there are no magnets in there. The ball is rolling just the way you see it.
Today's puzzle will be posed in two halves. The first half is a classic riddle – in fact, I suspect many of you will have heard it before. The second half, however, is an extension of the riddle that reveals its most common solution be be insufficient.
We've all been there. You pick up a slice of pizza and you're about to take a bite, but it flops over and dangles limply from your fingers instead. The crust isn't stiff enough to support the weight of the slice. Maybe you should have gone for fewer toppings? No. There's no need to despair.
How are you cutting your bagels? With a boring straight down the middle cut, or into a delicious linked breakfast chain, using the Mobius strip method?
Chocolatier Rafael Mutter's Chocolate Mill looks like a solid, cylindrical block of chocolate. In reality, it's ten-layers thick. As a a crank-turned blade shaves wafers of chocolate from the top, the underlying layers, each one flavored with a unique pattern of chocolate shapes, is revealed.
Andreas Markus Hoenigschmid is the master of solid geometry, the black magic wizard of three-dimensional space. Check out the dozens of objects he can create with his amazing transforming cubes.
An intricate crop circle, pictured here, materialized last night in Poirino, Italy. This aerial view gives you a good sense of scale. See those cars in the upper left hand corner? Yeah. This thing's a biggie.
There are theories out there that space itself can be curved. This is a confusing idea for some people. A quick exercise with a globe can make it a little more understandable.
The work of the Greek polymath Plato has kept millions of people busy for millennia. A few among them have been mathematicians who have obsessed about Platonic solids, a class of geometric forms that are highly regular and are commonly found in nature.