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July 13th, 2011 by Math Tricks | No Comments | Filed in Math Books


Ah – Flatland!  One of my all-time favorite math books!  In this classic story, Edwin A. Abbott introduces to you A. Square, a character who lives in a two dimensional world.  In the story, A. Square comes to realize that his universe is actually part of a multidimensional universe beyond his own 2 dimensions.

This story is a great introduction into the concept of hyperspace.  Written in 1884, it is a superb example of using analogy to make the reader understand more complex concepts – in this case the “multiverse”.

The story begins:


I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its

nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in



Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles,

Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining

fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but

without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like

shadows–only hard with luminous edges–and you will then have a pretty

correct notion of my country and countrymen.  Alas, a few years ago, I

should have said “my universe:”  but now my mind has been opened to

higher views of things.


If you would like to read the entire story, please feel free to download the entire text here.  Have a good time on your journey to higher dimensions!




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Boot Pi and Embrace Tau?

July 1st, 2011 by Math Tricks | 4 Comments | Filed in Bad Math

There has been a movement over the last decade to replace pi with it’s 2X equivalent – tau.  Bob Palais of the University of Utah and his followers insist that this would be a more meaningful ‘constant’, and would lead to less mistakes in the calculations of innumerable individuals.

Nice try, Palais et al.  Would you also have us trash Euler’s identity or the countless text books in circulation?  Sounds like you are just trying to cement your place in mathematical history.  Well, IMHO, this is not a good idea, and I am 100% against it.  I really don’t think much will come of this, but, just in case, maybe I should take in some of the textbook publishers out there!

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