Ivars Peterson
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All Stories by Ivars Peterson

Math
Computers by the Trillions
The notion of using molecules as the working elements of a computer goes back several decades. It wasn’t until 1994, however, that anyone actually stepped into a laboratory and succeeded in solving a computational problem in a test tube. That was when computer scientist Leonard M. Adleman of the University of Southern California, using techniques […]

Math
How Far Away?
As you look around, you constantly make decisions about how far away something is–whether it’s a dog sniffing at a nearby tree or a friend down the street. If you were a surveyor, you could measure angles and then use highschool trigonometry to calculate distances. That’s great for drawing a map or establishing property lines, […]

Math
How Far Away?
As you look around, you constantly make decisions about how far away something is–whether it’s a dog sniffing at a nearby tree or a friend down the street. If you were a surveyor, you could measure angles and then use highschool trigonometry to calculate distances. That’s great for drawing a map or establishing property lines, […]

Math
Guessing Cards
Cardguessing tricks give a magician the opportunity to show off his or her mindreading prowess. In many cases, the illusion of mind reading arises not from sleight of hand but as a consequence of some mathematical principle. One of the most startling of such prediction tricks is known as the Kruskal count, named for Rutgers […]

Math
Polyhedron Man
Mathematician and artist George Hart has created a variety of sculptures based on polyhedra and collaborated with other researchers to define and visualize new geometric shapes.

Math
Searchers capture a champion megaprime
A participant in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search set the record for the largest known prime number, which runs to 4,053,946 decimal digits.

Math
The Math Hatter and More
Looking for a cool gift for someone mathematically inclined? An unusual, conversationgenerating token of appreciation? The World Wide Web offers a number of intriguing possibilities–if you know where to stop and shop. Metro cars in action. Smart Mouth letter dispenser. Original Stonehenge watch. A little ad in a mathematics newsletter recently alerted me to the […]

Math
The Math Hatter and More
Looking for a cool gift for someone mathematically inclined? An unusual, conversationgenerating token of appreciation? The World Wide Web offers a number of intriguing possibilities–if you know where to stop and shop. Metro cars in action. Smart Mouth letter dispenser. Original Stonehenge watch. A little ad in a mathematics newsletter recently alerted me to the […]

Math
Knot Possible
Knot theorists are getting closer to their goal of developing practical procedures for distinguishing knotted curves from unknotted ones.

Math
Canary Songs
All it takes to sing like a canary is good breath and muscle control. Simply by manipulating air pressure and muscle tension in its vocal organ, or syrinx, a canary can generate an amazingly varied repertoire of trills, warbles, and other melodic syllables. This insight comes from a novel mathematical model of sound production in […]

Math
Canary Songs
All it takes to sing like a canary is good breath and muscle control. Simply by manipulating air pressure and muscle tension in its vocal organ, or syrinx, a canary can generate an amazingly varied repertoire of trills, warbles, and other melodic syllables. This insight comes from a novel mathematical model of sound production in […]

Computing
Sneaky Calculations
The same communication system that brings you the Web page of your choice can be exploited to perform computations.