A Symphony with an Irrational Time Signature

a weekly roundup of cartoons, links, and things to make your eardrums bleed

2017.9.11 zeno's persuasion

This cartoon draws inspiration from the tireless work of Julia Galef, the patron saint of being patient in internet arguments. Recently, she has been compiling lists of “unpopular ideas” (about political systems, social norms,  and criminal justice).

Even better, she offers this list of reasons to engage in internet arguments, even when you know that neither of you is likely to change your mind:

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 11.37.06 AM

Also, a confession: I cribbed the Zeno joke from a comment by my stepbrother Justin on Facebook. Speaking of which, go “like” Math with Bad Drawings on Facebook!

2017.9.12 brain melting.jpg

This summer, Brilliant.org put together a lovely sequence of daily problems, aimed at combating the summer slump. A typical example:

Image of an interesting problem which contains LaTeX.

At this point, it’s probably too late to prevent the deflation. But it’s not too late to breathe in some mathematical helium and enjoy that high-voiced feeling.

What I’m saying is that the problems are still available and you should go check ’em out!

2017.9.14 pi symphony

What’s that? You’d like me to direct your towards my favorite math-related songs? Well, you’ve come to the right poorly illustrated place.

First, there’s the incomparable Jonathan Coulton, paying homage to Mandelbrot:

Second, there’s the shockingly elaborate Will Smith parody “Gettin’ Triggy Wit It,” which appears to have consumed the efforts of an entire high school for months on end:

And finally, there’s this gem, widely considered* the greatest love song of all time:

[*by me]

2017.9.15 speed limit c

I close with a lovely piece of writing from math historian Viktor Blåsjö, on the power of intuition and the dismal fact that intellectual fashions in math run against it:


3 thoughts on “A Symphony with an Irrational Time Signature

  1. Cute.
    I would argue (discuss) that interaction helps me clarify my own thinking and deepen thought. I choose not to use the word “argument,” because it implies a back-and-forth without additional data. “Discussion,” on the other hand, opens the field for new information that may influence all participants, who then reach new levels of understanding.

  2. I did the Brilliant.org 100 day challenge.
    There is a test (actually a bunch of them) that you have to take if you want to teach math in the state where I live. I failed the “are you good enough at math to teach math?” test the first time through and the re-test was in August. So I did the challenge to be in good form for the test.
    Passed it this time.
    The problem the first time was that I tried to actually DO the math, and ran out of time. The second time, most of my answers were first guesses without actually doing the work. There was just barely time for that. But I passed, with a score considerably higher than the minimum.

  3. Apart from the (as always) wonderful stories and drawings, thank you also for the songs! They remind me of the “Hauptsatzkantate” from Friedrich Wille, a Cantata of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, which we performed at a ball when I studied mathematics. Unfortunately, it’s in German but some performances can be found online. This one is nicely illustrated and I hope you can enjoy it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n6aB4aasyg

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