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 The author of Skulls in the Stars is a professor of physics, specializing in optical science, at UNC Charlotte. The blog covers topics in physics and optics, the history of science, classic pulp fantasy and horror fiction, and the surprising intersections between these areas.
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Category Archives: Mathematics
A vintage math puzzle!
Over a decade ago, at the beginning of this blog, I wrote a blog post about some classic math puzzles where a nonsensical result is arrived at by seemingly plausible mathematics; in the post, I challenged folks to figure out … Continue reading
Posted in Mathematics
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A curious mathematical identity
Update: There is more subtlety to the infinite case, which I’ve now addressed in the post! Update 2: Learning so much messing with this! Added a bit more discussion near the end. So on twitter yesterday, the following mathematical identity … Continue reading
Posted in ... the Hell?, Mathematics
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Optics and infinity at American Scientist!
I’ve been kind of quiet here lately, partly due to my job and partly due to writing blog posts and essays for other venues. Happily, one of these blog posts is now available to read over at American Scientist, on … Continue reading
Posted in Mathematics, Optics, Personal
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Beautiful equations of math and physics: my picks
A few days ago, the BBC introduced a series of posts in which they asked mathematicians and physicists to share their favorite equations. It’s a fun list, and the original post can be found here. One of the equations selected … Continue reading
Posted in Mathematics, Physics
12 Comments
Infinite hotels in swirling beams of light
I’ve noticed there seems to be a general unspoken rule about the relationship between mathematics and science: any mathematics, no matter how abstract or seemingly disconnected from reality, eventually finds use or representation in the natural world. For example, most … Continue reading
Posted in Mathematics, Optics
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“Count Like an Egyptian” over at The Finch & Pea!
For those who just can’t get enough of my writing (anyone?), I wrote a guest post over at The Finch & Pea about the book Count Like an Egyptian by David Reimer. Check it out! Not only do I discuss … Continue reading
Posted in Mathematics, Personal
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Curves… in… spaaaace! (1890)
One of the tragedies of STEM education is the seemingly eternal perception by the general public that mathematics is boring and repetitive. Most people, of course, end their math education with algebra at most, though some work their way through … Continue reading
Posted in Mathematics
6 Comments
Infinite series: not quite as weird as some would say
Updated with a third footnote clarifying my use of the term “diverge,” thanks to suggestion by Evelyn Lamb, who has also written an excellent discussion of the problem with the video. At the end of this post I list all the … Continue reading
Posted in ... the Hell?, Mathematics
32 Comments
Infinity is weird: what does it all mean?
The final installment in a series of posts on the size of the infinite, as described in mathematical set theory. The first post can be read here, the second here, and the third here. We have taken a long, strange journey into … Continue reading
Posted in Mathematics
5 Comments