# A Quick Animated History of Why We Use the Numbers We Use

I find the history of numbers so much more fascinating than the application of numbers. Who cares about learning calculus, when you can geek out on the brief history of numerical systems?

I find the history of numbers so much more fascinating than the application of numbers. Who cares about learning calculus, when you can geek out on the brief history of numerical systems?

There’s a controversial little interpretation of Einstein’s theory of special relativity that could affect what happens to masses moving at a really high speeds: they appear to get heavier.

Human beings have always created tools for calculating numbers, from the ancient abacus to today’s electronic calculators. But here’s an ingenious calculator drawn on paper—the creation of comic book artist Jason Shiga. And he and the folks at Numberphile have created an explanatory video of how it works.

One of the frothiest stories to bubble forth from the shit-tastic Rio Olympics this week was the sudden, inexplicable greening of not one, but two Olympic pools.

*Futurama *may not make me laugh as hard as other comedies, but its vision of the future and all the shenanigans that come with it have always been enjoyable to watch (throughout all its various cancellations and comebacks). Kaptain Kristian makes the case that *Futurama* is special because it was the “master of hiding…

Quasicrystals are unusual materials in which the atoms are arranged in regular patterns that nonetheless never repeat themselves. Most are man-made in the lab; only one case of naturally occurring quasicrystals has been found thus far. And now physicists believe they’ve figured out how that happened.

Math is basically magic. So it’s no surprise that a clever use of the Fibonacci numbers—a series of numbers (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.) where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers—and a super-slick shuffling method can combine for a card trick that makes it impossibly easy to guess the number and suit of the…

This is the Fourier Transform. You can thank it for providing the music you stream every day, squeezing down the images you see on the Internet into tiny little JPG files, and even powering your noise-canceling headphones. Here’s how it works.

If you think you had a hard time filling out pages of algebra at school, spare a thought for the three mathematicians who have just published the world’s largest ever proof. It takes up 200TB of storage space.

Ever wonder how there could only be about 18 Gryffindors in Harry’s Hogwarts class *and *that J.K. Rowling has said there were 1,000 students at the school? Well, a fan theory has an answer... a depressing, depressing answer.

Without a Tardis, a journey to the center of the Earth might be your best option for traveling to the past. Because of the way gravity warps spacetime, physicists have now calculated that the Earth’s core is 2.5 years younger than its surface.

Here’s a really interesting mathematical explanation on how the “catch a dollar” trick works. You know the trick: a person holds a bill vertically and says you can keep the bill if you can catch the dollar with your fingers when it drops. You never catch it. It’s really hard! Why?

“Wherever there is number, there is beauty,” wrote the Byzantine philospher Proclus Diadochus in the 5th century, unaware how very wrong he was. According to the average plane-riding American, mathematics is now nothing but the Satanical scripture of olive-skinned terrorists.

The story of how zero came to be and the history of math is actually quite fascinating! They should have taught us that instead of actual math in high school, if you ask me. Thankfully, Hannah Fry tells us in the animation story below all we need to know. There’s fascinating bits about how the number system (and zero)…

Here’s a question worthy of the ball boy at Wimbledon: if you have 128 tennis balls packed into a container, how many different ways can you arrange them? Answer: 10^{250} — more than the entire number of subatomic particles in the universe.

Get enough dots together and your faulty eyeballs start seeing things. With random dot patterns, a simple move of the dots by a few degrees can create trippy concentric circles or wild swirls that move all around the paper. With a more uniform grid of dots, the pattern looks like you’re jumping through a portal into…

After a slow fourth quarter in 2015, many economists predict the United States economy will rebound for a stronger showing later this year. That’s promising news. So why do many of us feel like we’re not doing so well—even in times of relative prosperity?

This one’s a doozy in that there is a lot going on. The goal is simple, you need to escape a collapsing tunnel with a group of nine people (including yourself). It’s all the other variables that confuse things.

Guess the Correlation is a very simple game indeed: Look at a scatter plot, guess the correlation coefficient, win or lose. Are you mathematically minded enough to take on the challenge?

The <pointy brackets> are an archetypal pair of characters in the world of computing. But if you’ve ever wondered how they became so pervasive, you’re in luck.