Turn arithmetic into mathemagic: Arthur Benjamin at TEDGlobal 2013


TED Blog

Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin says that there are three reasons we learn math: calculation, application and inspiration. Yes, inspiration.

[ted_talkteaser id=199]Math is the science of patterns, and learning it teaches us not just logic but creative thinking, says Benjamin. So why, when math is beautiful and exciting, is so much of what we learn in school about preparing for tests or passing on to the next grade?

To highlight this point, Benjamin introduces us to Fibonacci numbers — a name-drop that gets loud applause on the TEDGlobal stage. The person we call Fibonacci was actually “named” Leonardo of Pisa and he pioneered much of the arithmetic we use. The Fibonacci sequence is:

1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 …

[ted_talkteaser id=587] Each number in the sequence is the sum of the two that came before it. This sequence of numbers occurs in nature surprisingly often (like in the number of petals…

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Live with your head in the clouds: Gavin Pretor-Pinney at TEDGlobal 2013

I love clouds!!

TED Blog

Why do clouds get such a bad rap? In English, when someone’s sad or depressed, they’re “under a cloud.” When there’s bad news in store, there’s “a cloud on the horizon.” It’s everyone’s default doom-and-gloom metaphor. But, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, has one message for you: Clouds are awesome.

Whatever happened to the days we spent as children, gazing at clouds for hours on end? Says Pretor-Pinney, those days don’t have to be over. Nature’s own Rorschach blots, clouds often tell us what we’re thinking about. Aristophanes called clouds “the patron goddesses of idle fellows.” Pretor-Pinney reminds us: To tune into the clouds is to calm down, slow down.

Consider these awesome and rare clouds:

Ryan Verwest : Mt Rainier, Washington, US
Photo: Ryan Verwest : Mt Rainier, Washington, US

Lenticularis clouds are formed when winds are forced to rise to pass over a mountain and become wave-like. These seem to hover…

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