## All Stories by Ivars Peterson

1. Math

### Random Home Runs

For fans of major-league baseball, one of the highlights of the current season is the rate at which Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants is hitting home runs. Through June 25, Bonds has hit 39 home runs in 77 games, already setting the record for the most home runs before the all-star break in […]

2. Math

Predicting the geometric shapes of soap bubble clusters can lead to surprisingly difficult mathematical problems. Which one of these two configurations of five planar bubbles of equal area has the smaller total perimeter? The more symmetric candidate isn’t always the winner. Frank Morgan Frank Morgan of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., recently illustrated such difficulties […]

3. Math

Predicting the geometric shapes of soap bubble clusters can lead to surprisingly difficult mathematical problems. Which one of these two configurations of five planar bubbles of equal area has the smaller total perimeter? The more symmetric candidate isn’t always the winner. Frank Morgan Frank Morgan of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., recently illustrated such difficulties […]

4. Math

### Surprisingly Square

Mathematicians take a fresh look at expressing numbers as the sums of squares.

5. Math

### Möbius Accordion

Artist Susan Happersett of Jersey City, N.J., has come up with a novel twist on the venerable Möbius strip: a playful, eye-catching creation she describes as a Möbius accordion. Happersett Accordion Susan Happersett Thirteen Original Colonies. Susan Happersett Happersett Accordion Susan Happersett A Möbius strip, or band, is the remarkable one-sided surface that results from […]

6. Math

### Prime Twins

Number theory offers a host of problems that are remarkably easy to state but fiendishly difficult to solve. Many of these questions and conjectures feature prime numbers–integers evenly divisible only by themselves and 1. For instance, primes often occur as pairs of consecutive odd integers: 3 and 5, 5 and 7, 11 and 13, 17 […]

7. Math

### Cosmic Numerology

Like the ancient Pythagoreans, astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) found numbers fascinating. Imbued with the same conviction of a natural order that drove Pythagoras (c. 580–500 B.C.) and his followers to search for an underlying numerical harmony, Kepler maintained that the physical universe was laid out according to a mathematical design that was simple and accessible […]

8. Math

### Cosmic Numerology

Like the ancient Pythagoreans, astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) found numbers fascinating. Imbued with the same conviction of a natural order that drove Pythagoras (c. 580–500 B.C.) and his followers to search for an underlying numerical harmony, Kepler maintained that the physical universe was laid out according to a mathematical design that was simple and accessible […]

9. Computing

### Motif for Infection

A novel computer program pinpoints proteins of troublesome bacteria.

10. Math

### Lava Lamp Randomness

Sealed within a transparent, tapered, liquid-filled cylinder, illuminated colored globs slowly rise and fall. Meandering and deforming, their shapes and paths change unpredictably. Invented in 1963, a decorative fixture in many homes during the 1970s, and still in production, Lava Lite lamps are now the object of renewed curiosity. Indeed, researchers have come up with […]

11. Math

### Lava Lamp Randomness

Sealed within a transparent, tapered, liquid-filled cylinder, illuminated colored globs slowly rise and fall. Meandering and deforming, their shapes and paths change unpredictably. Invented in 1963, a decorative fixture in many homes during the 1970s, and still in production, Lava Lite lamps are now the object of renewed curiosity. Indeed, researchers have come up with […]

12. Math

### Temple Circles

One tradition that flourished 200 years ago in Japan, during its period of isolation from the western world, involved Euclidean geometry. Scholars and others would inscribe geometric problems on wooden tablets, then hang the tablets under the eaves of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples as offerings. Such a tablet is called a sangaku, which means […]