Category Archives: mathematics

Sir Roger Penrose’s Toilet Paper

Twenty years ago, Kimberly-Clark, the Kleenex company, introduced a line of toilet paper embossed with the kite-and-dart aperiodic tiling discovered by Roger Penrose. When I first heard about this, I thought: How clever. Because the pattern never repeats, the creases … Continue reading

Posted in mathematics, off-topic, uncategorized | 1 Comment

Approximately Yours

Today, I’m told, is Rational Approximation Day. It’s 22/7 (for those who write dates in little-endian format), which differs from π by about 0.04 percent. (The big-endians among us are welcome to approximate 1/π.) Given the present state of life … Continue reading

Posted in computing, mathematics | 10 Comments

Counting Your Chickens Before They’re Pecked

It started with a brief story in the New York Times about Luke Robitaille, a 13-year-old student from Euless, Texas, who won the Raytheon Mathcounts National Competition by correctly answering the following question: In a barn, 100 chicks sit peacefully … Continue reading

Posted in biology, computing, featured, mathematics, problems and puzzles, statistics | 8 Comments

The short arm of coincidence

James Tanton tosses off number theory problems the way John D. Rockefeller handed out dimes. I wrote about one of Tanton’s problems back in January. Then a few weeks ago this tweet about factorials and squares snagged my attention, and … Continue reading

Posted in computing, featured, mathematics, problems and puzzles | 14 Comments

A Tantonalizing Problem

In times like these one craves distraction, or maybe anaesthesia. On the whole, mathematics is better for you than ethanol, and you can even do it while driving. So in spare moments I’ve been noodling away at the following problem, … Continue reading

Posted in mathematics, problems and puzzles | 8 Comments