119th Carnival of Mathematics

What's the deal with 119? Well let's just say it is more than just a blip on the number line. For one, it is the result of aggregating 5 consecutive primes (yes 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 gives you 119). Another, it can be interpreted as the product of 2 primes (7x17=119). Also, it is a member of the recurring Perrin sequence, which is defined as P(n)=P(n-2)+P(n-3) and framed with the initial conditions P(0) = 3, P(1) = 0, P(2) = 2.

Fun fact: did you know that 119 is the smallest number n where either n or n+1 is divisible by the numbers from 1 to 8? Give it a try and convince yourself this is true.

Have you heard of Ununennium? Well it is a theorized element positioned within the periodic table possessing an atomic number of 119. Which makes it a transuranic element, ie it has an atomic number higher than that of Uranium as the name pretty much suggests. Why theorized? Because it has yet to be successfully synthesized, owing to prohibitive costs and limiting capabilities of current technologies.

Electronic shell configuration of Ununennium

By the way, if you reside or plan to reside in South Korea, Japan or Taiwan, it is definitely good to know that 119 is the national helpline number to dial during instances of emergencies.

Without further ado, let's visit this edition proper. Welcome to the 119th Carnival of Mathematics.

Many of you Maths enthusiasts out there would be somewhat acquainted with the golden ratio-how about a fractal curve inspired by it?

The Harriss spiral, courtesy of Edmund Harriss

Mathematics lecturer Edmund Harriss worked on the golden rectangle canvass, and ended up with a monumental artistic masterpiece as depicted above.

From golden ratios, we migrate slightly to the topic of the golden angle. Greg Parker is most keen to learn if anyone has witnessed its existence anywhere in the real world.

Herminio L.A. probes in great depth the Josephus Problem, spicing things up with his take on the Greenlandic seal-bear game. A rather creative David Orden has every intention to optimize the movements of Marvel's Spiderman. He remarked:

"We all know how Spider-Man moves through the city, shooting spider-webs from wall to wall. But, have you ever wondered if he is actually using the shortest route? And, if so, how does he compute it? Since walls introduce a third dimension into the problem, the algorithms in a usual GPS navigator are no longer useful. Hopefully, the results in a recent paper by Carmi et al. would help to develop a navigator being useful for Spider-Man."

Now on to some affairs concerning Mathematics education inside the classroom. The resident blogger at Solve My Maths isn't all too pleased with how Maths education is being conducted in the UK, whilst William Wu examines the pros and cons of relying on computing machines to do the "heavy" lifting. Evelyn Lamb bravely and rationally dissects the supposed association between Maths and the Genius Myth- one that perhaps has been most unkind towards the fairer sex in a long while.

If you are a sucker for brainteasers, check out this post about analyzing the Puzzlebomb at the Out of the Norm blog. For those who are extremely mathematically inclined, John Cook's thoughts about disappearing data projections might go some way in satiating your appetite for contemplating the abstract. Then again, what if the rules of the game are not clearly established? It might just conveniently bring out the comical side of computational Mathematics, as so adorably displayed in this post about soldiers and horses.

Before I conclude things, allow me to pose a question to students of Algebra: would solving a sextic (degree 6 polynomial equation) sound intimidating? Well, not necessarily, as I have demonstrated in this recent question which I assisted a student with in an online study forum.

And the curtains fall on this edition. The 120th Carnival of Mathematics will be held at the Math Misery blog in March, so stay tuned.


(PS: I would like to accord a sincere thank-you to Katie Steckles for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this blossoming math blogging community. )

10 February 2015