Parade of Images

by Daniel Ranard how do you know the moonis moving: see the dry casting of the beach worm dissolve at the delicate rising touch:–A.R. Ammons, in Expressions of Sea Level During the August eclipse, I overheard a funny bit of philosophy. I'll tell it verbatim, I swear. Tree branches had enclosed a stretch of path…

A story about infinity

by Daniel Ranard Sometimes it's easier to understand abstract math with a story. W­hen I explain bits of math to unsuspecting friends, I'm always happy by how quickly they follow. Even precise definitions and proofs are easy to learn with a little work. But for the uninitiated, eventually the words and symbols start to slip…

What is a shape?

by Daniel Ranard Maybe you've heard by now about last week's Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to three physicists for their work on topological phase transitions. But if you didn't already know what a topological phase transition was, chances are you still don't. When a friend of mine read a few popular articles on the…

Why does math work?

by Daniel Ranard Math works pretty well. We can count apples and oranges; we can scribble equations and then launch a rocket that lands gently upright. When an argument is indisputable, we colloquially say “do the math,” and we speak of events that will happen with “mathematical certainty.” Math works so well that you're forced…