Can you believe it -- math is hip! So put aside your math phobia and take a listen In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, the real life mathematics of tiger's stripes, butterfly wings, jellyfish and DNA. Also, the lives of two brilliant and eccentric mathematicians who loved only numbers.
Ian Stewart explains the new 250-page proof by a Michigan mathematician to the age-old spherical stacking problem. It turns out that grocers who build pyramids of oranges are doing just the right thing. Stewart teaches math at the University of Warwick; is a columnist for Scientific American, and author of "Life's Other Secret: The New Mathematics of the Living World." Also, mathematician Keith Devlin tells Steve Paulson that he's thrilled by the current wave of popular interest in math (think "Good Will Hunting" and "Pi") and thinks it's OK to learn math at the movies. Devlin is the Dean of Science at St. Mary's College in California and the author of "Life by the Numbers."SEGMENT 2:
Paul Hoffman is the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica and the author of "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth." Hoffman tells Judith Strasser that Erdos was a genius and a bonafide eccentric. He had no home, no family, no job. He barely slept and lived on caffeine and speed so he could spend every possible moment pursuing his only passion -- math.SEGMENT 3:
Ian Stewart (see biographical details in Segment One description above) tells Jim Fleming that mathematical laws underlie everything in the world from stripes on tigers to human behavior. Stewart's book is "Life's Other Secret: The New Mathematics of the Living World." Also, Sylvia Nasar is economics correspondent for the New York Times and the author of "A Beautiful Mind" - a biography of mathematician John Nash. Nasar tells Steve Paulson that Nash made major discoveries in pure math and transformed economics with his theory of competetive games, then battled schizophrenia for thirty years.Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 98-09-06-B.
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