Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Math, Magic, Mystery -- and so few women

Today, April 30, is the final day of Mathematics Awareness Month 2014; this year's theme has been "Mathematics, Magic and Mystery" and it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the most interesting men of mathematics; educated as a philosopher, Martin Gardner wrote often about mathematics and sometimes about poetry.  Gardner described his relationship to poetry as that of "occasional versifier" -- he is the author, for example, of:

     π goes on and on
     And e is just as cursed
     I wonder, how does π begin
     When its digits are reversed?   

     Martin Gardner often played with words -- and even more often with numbers and other mathematical concepts.  The 30 postings for Mathematics Awareness Month 2014 give a sense of the range of this polymath.  Earlier blog postings about this celebrated man (with whom I had the pleasure of correspondence and one meeting) include: 6 May 2010, 7 June 2010, 5 August 2010, 21 October 2010, and 6 September 2011.
      Today on this 30th and last day of Mathematics Awareness Month 2014, I also want to point to the women who have been featured in the 30 (one for each April day) MAM website postings that celebrate this year's theme "Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery."  First of all, Eve Torrence, professor at Randall Macon College, was a member of the MAM 2014 Committee.  Videos by artist-mathematician Vi Hart were featured on April 6 (exploring the Fibonacci sequence) and April 7 (exploring hexaflexagons).  Both the April 8 posting and the one on April 30 feature Cindy Lawrence , Co-Executive Director of MoMath.  On April 14, Anna Lubiw is named as one of the solvers of a fold-and cut theorem and Betsy Ross is mentioned; the activity for April 17 offers  a video of Eve Torrence performing a "Magnetic Colors" card trick. April 26 features a photo and an image by Annalisa Crannell.  In addition, actor Sandra Bullock is mentioned in the April 29 posting and Alice (of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland) on April 21.
     I have experienced mixed feelings as I have named these math-women.  On the one hand, I am pleased to point to them.  On the other hand, there are too few.  Related to this is a small square poem (repeated from my December 26, 2010 post) entitled "Where are the Women?"

               Little Women

               In school, many
               gifted math girls. 
               Later, so few
               famed math women!


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