Why do physicists play dominoes? And what’s the connection between the Aztecs and the Arctic Circle anyway?

I’m sure you’ve been wondering: what’s a mathologer?

Or perhaps you should ask “Who’s The Mathologer?”

In that case, the answer is easy: The Mathologer is Burkard Polster.

I’m kidding about part of this, of course—not about his name, which really is Burkard Polster, nor about his self-proclaimed title, which really is The Mathologer, but about the assertion in the previous paragraph that the identification is easy. Outside of the world of mathematics there are very few people who know that Burkard Polster is the Mathologer. Actually, it was only two months ago that I wrote about him, but you don’t remember that, do you?

I thought not. After all, it’s not a very memorable name—rather like John Smith in that regard.

OK, enough kidding around. Let’s get real. (Actually, part of this will be complex.) Here’s what you need to do, if you’re interested in some unusual mathematics:

You can do these in either order (which is why we have bullets, not numbered items). You can even skip back and forth if that’s your preference. I read some of the blog, then watched the video, then went back to the blog…

The video is somewhat long, which is why I didn’t watch it all in one piece. And I warn you that it contains real mathematics, complete with proofs by induction. But Polster’s enthusiasm will carry you through, and it helps that it’s very visual—as a video should be, but too many math videos aren’t. You’ll find out some cool (and surprising) conclusions about Aztec diamonds and Arctic circles and dominoes (i.e., 2-by-1 rectangles). Most importantly, perhaps, if your high-school geometry courses narrowed your conception of what a proof is, Polster will widen it back up. And don’t worry about complex numbers: there’s only one brief discussion of them as a way of representing numbers with two coordinates. Sounds just like GPS… hmmm….



Categories: Math