Yesterday, Steven Strogatz started a new series at the New York Times website, as he puts it, “for a few weeks of mind-bending pleasure…(t)he haven of mathematics.” This time around, the series is called “Me, Myself, and Mathematics.” The first column is here, and bodes well for future columns. I had never heard the particular fact about fingerprints that he explains so nicely — and with great illustrations.
Strogtatz introduced his earlier series (2010) with this selection from his first column:
I’ll be writing about the elements of mathematics, from pre-school to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject — but this time from an adult perspective. It’s not intended to be remedial. The goal is to give you a better feeling for what math is all about and why it’s so enthralling to those who get it.
I’ve just indulged in rereading most of those earlier columns. They’re not just for people who want a “second chance” — those of us who love math can find new ways of looking at familiar ideas. There are also some fun cultural references to, e.g., Sesame Street, the movie My Left Foot, and the 80’s sitcom Moonlighting.