Monday, June 15, 2009

Math in the Media: Math and the City?!?

Drawing a crowd in close enough to hear what you have to say is what a headline is all about. A guest columnist for the New York Times' The Wild Side, Steven Strogatz, filling in for Olivia Judson, pulled me in easily with his headline in the column on May 19th:

Math and the City

Though not quite similar to Sarah Jessica Parker ('s work, it is a good title.

Here, instead, Mr. Strogatz discusses a couple examples of the mathematics of life that mathematicians tend to see everywhere via their training; patterns, proportions and logical structure that show up again and again in disparate contexts. In this case, Zipf's Law on the frequency of word usage in a language, patterns in economies of scale, similarities in the energy needs of a city based on its size to the energy needs of mammals based on their size all share a remarkable one-ness in their structure. "Spooky" is Steven's word fo it.

Its a good read....

One personal note, though (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek): Steven leads the article with
"One of the pleasures of looking at the world through mathematical eyes is that you can see certain patterns that would otherwise be hidden."
Right, he is. Sometimes is seems kinda like what Neo sees at the end of The Matrix (although in our case there is no trace of any sort of messianic behavior, no doubt).

And it is quite a pleasure. That is, when it isn't a curse.

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