This episode is all about the forgotten mathematical tool of numbers. Ok, forgotten may be a bit strong, but after a certain point in mathematics numbers seem to lose a bit of their importance. For the first few years after you start to learn math it is all add these numbers, divide this number by that one, or find that number. And then it morphs into for all numbers or let x be an arbitrary number or for epsilon greater than zero and numbers start to lose their power.
Well not on this episode. Samuel Hansen has found stories about amazing properties of numbers, how a person started collecting collections of numbers, how research can lead to a number horde which can then lead to more research, and all about favorite numbers.
Tanya Khovanova is a freelance mathematician and mathematical entertainer currently working as a research affiliate at MIT. She is also the mind behind Number Gossip, a website for finding out surprising things about numbers. Her son Alexey Radul helped design Number Gossip, and his son Lev helped give background noise for our interview.
Neil Sloane started collecting sequences in 1964 as a graduate student at Cornell. His collection was first published in 1973, then again in 1995, and then became the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences in 1996. He also managed to fit 43 years of work at AT&T in there somehow. Samuel caught up with Neil Sloane at the 2012 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston
0% of All Real Numbers:
Michael Shamos is the Distinguished Career Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. His career has included mathematics, computer science, law, business, and pool. He is the author of “The Catalog of Real Numbers”
Which is Your Favorite:
Alex Bellos is a journalist and author. His most recent book Here’s Looking at Euclid(Alex’s Adventures in Number Land in the UK) is all about the world of mathematics. He is also the mind behind the Favourite Number Project.
The Favorite Number Gang: