Did 'Avengers' really own box office records?
May 18th, 2012
05:30 PM ET

Did 'Avengers' really own box office records?

Editor's Note: Matthew Lane is a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at UCLA, and is the founder of Math Goes Pop!, a blog focused on the surprisingly rich intersection between mathematics and popular culture.  He is also a contributor to the Center for Election Science.  You can follow him on Twitter at @mmmaaatttttt.

When the Avengers assemble, the world opens its collective wallet.  In just under three weeks since its international opening, "Marvel's The Avengers" has earned more than $1 billion worldwide.  In America, it blew through the $200 million mark over opening weekend alone, and now holds the title of best three-day opening in film history.  Or does it?

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Data: It's how stores know you're pregnant
April 20th, 2012
01:59 PM ET

Data: It's how stores know you're pregnant

Editor's Note: Matthew Lane is a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at UCLA and is the founder of Math Goes Pop!, a blog focused on the surprisingly rich intersection between mathematics and popular culture.  You can follow him on Twitter at @mmmaaatttttt.

Whether you are trying to make the best decisions for your fantasy baseball league, looking to capitalize on an opportunity in a fluctuating stock market or simply filtering through the results of a Google search, it is hard to deny that we are surrounded by more data now than ever before.  As such, the task of organizing and drawing conclusions from data can be a challenge, but thankfully mathematics can, in many cases, rise to the occasion.

The application of mathematics to such a rapidly increasing pool of data, however, is not without controversy.  For example, in February The New York Times published an investigation written by Charles Duhigg about the value of consumer data to major corporations, and how those corporations can use your data in an instinctively creepy way.

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Can you copyright music of pi? Judge says no
A snapshot from Michael John Blake's "What Pi Sounds Like" video.
March 21st, 2012
11:06 AM ET

Can you copyright music of pi? Judge says no

Pi Day this year was special for Michael John Blake. On that day, March 14 (3/14, like the number 3.14), a judge dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit against his song, which is based on the number pi.

Let's back up: Pi is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. Its digits go on infinitely in an apparently random fashion: 3.1415926535897932 ...

And while this sounds preposterously geeky, multiple musicians have seen this as an opportunity to create songs based on these numbers. If you look at a piano and say that the musical note C is 1, D is 2, E is 3, and so on, you can create an interesting melody, and then add other elements to compose a full song with pi as the fundamental musical core.

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National Pi(e) Day: Recipes for pies
A pie for Pi Day!
March 14th, 2012
09:44 AM ET

National Pi(e) Day: Recipes for pies

It's an all-out pie palooza because March 14 is National Pie Day!

Clever you, you've already figured out that today's date, 3/14, also corresponds to a famous mathematical constant you learned in school: 3.14, also known as pi. So it would stand to reason that today of all days is a great day to celebrate something of a similar name, pie.

In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed that yes, America, we should have a Pi Day, although it was celebrated beginning in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium. The staff and visitors would march about a circular space and eat fruit pies.

Many iReporters sent in photos and recipes of pies for the occasion.

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Pi Day: How 3.14 helps find other planets, and more
iReporter Zeynep Rice made this pie to celebrate Pi Day.
March 13th, 2012
05:40 PM ET

Pi Day: How 3.14 helps find other planets, and more

Happy Pi Day! A favorite holiday among geeks, March 14 commemorates one of the most fundamental and strange numbers in mathematics. It's also Albert Einstein's birthday.

This is a great excuse to bake pies, as many iReporters have (send us your pie-report!). But there are also lots of reasons to celebrate this number: Pi  appears in the search for other planets, in the way that DNA folds, in science at the world's most powerful particle collider, and in many other fields of science.

Here's a refresher: Pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle. No matter how big or small the circle is, if you calculate the distance around it, divided by the distance across it, you will get pi, which is approximately 3.14.  That's why Pi Day is 3/14!

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Filed under: In Space • Math • On Earth
Tau Day celebrated with twice the pi(e)
June 28th, 2011
09:44 AM ET

Tau Day celebrated with twice the pi(e)

On the Internet, anything can be the basis for a holiday - even a number.

You may recall that the day honoring the number Pi - which is March 14 (3/14 ... get it?) - has become a worldwide phenomenon. Pi Day now features pie-eating contests, digit recitations and educational games.

And now, just when you thought the math holiday season was over, it's time for Tau Day!

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