Math That Is Beautiful

One of the sections in my book Let’s Play Math: How Families Can Learn Math Together — and Enjoy It encourages parents to make beautiful math with their children.

Do you have trouble believing that math can be beautiful?

In “Inspirations,” artist Cristóbal Vila creates a wonderful, imaginary work studio for the amazing M.C. Escher. You’ll want to view it in full-screen mode.

How many mathematical objects could you identify?

Vila offers a brief explanation of the history and significance of each item on his page Inspirations: A short movie inspired on Escher’s works.

Read about the inspirations, and then try making some math of your own.

“I looked into that enormous and inexhaustible source of inspiration that is Escher and tried to imagine how it could be his workplace, what things would surround an artist like him, so deeply interested in science in general and mathematics in particular. I imagined that these things could be his travel souvenirs, gifts from friends, sources of inspiration…”

—Cristóbal Vila
Inspirations: A short movie inspired on Escher’s works

Pi: Who Needs That Many Digits?

From Numberphile: Pi is famously calculated to trillions of digits – but Dr. James Grime says 39 is enough.

How you round it off makes a difference:

An extra note from Dr. Grime: “Since pi39 ends in 0, you may think we could use pi38 instead, which has even fewer digits. Unfortunately, the rounding errors of pi38 are ten times larger than the rounding errors of pi39 — more than a hydrogen atom. So that extra decimal place makes a difference, even if it’s 0.”


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Pi and Buffon’s Matches

From Numberphile: Dr Tony Padilla’s unique (and low budget) twist on the Buffon’s Needle experiment to learn the true value of Pi.

For a kid-friendly version of this experiment, try throwing food:

Do you have a favorite family activity for celebrating Pi Day? I’d love to hear it!


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Pi Makes a River Bend

From Numberphile: “Sinuosity is a measure of how ‘bendy’ a river is. It is the length of the river divided by the direct route. Featuring Dr. James Grime.”

Update

After posting this video, Dr. Grimes and Lawrence Roberts began collecting and analyzing data about real-world rivers. It turns out the pi theory of sinuosity is too simple. Read about their results:


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Calculating Pi with Real Pies

From Numberphile: “How accurately can we calculate Pi using hundreds of REAL pies? This video features Matt Parker, who believes this is the world’s most accurate pie-based Pi calculation.”

Pi Day is coming soon. Maybe you’d like to try a pi project with your family? Check out my Pi Day Roundup of links.


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A Bit About Pi

From Numberphile: “Some stuff about Pi, the ‘celebrity number’. This video features maths-loving author Alex Bellos and Professor Roger Bowley from the University of Nottingham.”

Did you notice the error? It was supposed to be “a”…


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