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Mathematics Awareness Month 2014: Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery

1 April 2014 79 views No Comment

From magic squares and Möbius bands to magical card tricks and illusions, mysterious phenomena with elegant “Aha!” explanations have permeated mathematics for centuries. Such brain-teasing challenges promote creative and rational thinking, attract a wide range of people to the subject, and often inspire serious mathematical research.

The theme of Mathematics Awareness Month 2014 echoes the title of a 1956 book by renowned math popularizer Martin Gardner, whose extensive writings introduced the public to hexaflexagons, polyominoes, John Conway’s “Game of Life,” Penrose tiles, the Mandelbrot set, and much more. For more than half a century, Gardner inspired enthusiasts of all ages to engage deeply with mathematics, and many of his readers chose to pursue it as a career. The year 2014 marks the centennial of Gardner’s birth.

The Mathematics Awareness Month website features 30 magical and mysterious topics—a new one will be unveiled each day in April. Contributors include professional mathematicians and magicians. Each topic is introduced by a short video and includes supporting materials at various levels of mathematical sophistication.

Mathematics departments at the secondary and college levels should find a month full of interesting activities to use in their programs.

Visit the math awareness month website for details and to download the official poster.

Mathematics Awareness Month is sponsored each year by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics to recognize the importance of mathematics through written materials and an accompanying poster highlighting a particular area.

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