Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Math in the Media - Cowlicks and Hurricane Eyes

Ever wonder why babies have cowlicks (that spot on their head where the hair just doesn't want to follow any particular direction)?  If the time of the day depends on your time zone, then how does one determine the time at the North Pole?  How come hurricanes have "eyes"?

The answer, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) is mathematical in nature.  More specifically topology.  For a glimpse of why, read today's New York Times article:

Singular Sensations

by Steven Strogatz.  A fun article, with the promise of a lot more in the future.  Give it a read.

One thing you will start to find.  We as mathematicians see our craft everywhere, in basically ALL places.  Math really is the exposure of logical structure, regardless of the context.  But it takes talent to expose that math in an engaging way to someone not trained to see it.  Mr. Strogatz has talent.

Happy reading.