The Unexpected

Sometimes an approach you are sure will work yields results. Maybe the Cambridge sandwich year and a unicycle society will lead to traveling around the world talking about the mathematics behind throwing things in the air. Other times a sociologist’s observations about the statistics of networks decades later might help predict epidemics. Also who knows where an epiphany had while giving an exam may lead. For this episode Samuel Hansen searched near and far for stories of what was not expected.


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The Unexpected Result:

Timothy Gowers is a Professor at Cambrige University, a Fields Medalist, a blogger, and the man who started the Polymath Project, where he and many others from around the world collaborated through comments on his blog to find a new combinatorial proof of the Density Hales-Jewett theorem.

The Unexpected Juggle:

Colin Wright has given his Mathematics of Juggling talk all over the world and you really want to see it. He also runs the MathsJam annual conference and talks about mathematics on his twitter and blog.

The Unexpected Application:

Scott Feld is a Professor of Sociology at Purdue University and is the author of the best titled research paper in the history of science: “Why Your Friends Have More Friends Than You Do”

Nicholas Christakis is a physician and social scientist who works as a Professor at Harvard University in the Departments of Health Care Policy, Medicine, and Sociology. He has done extensive work into the relationship between social networks and health with his collaborator James Fowler.

The Unexpected Constant:

Robert Palais is a Professor of Mathematics at Utah Valley University and the author of “Pi is Wrong!”

Michael Hartl is an educator and entrepreneur, as well as being the author of “The Tau Manifesto” and the creator of Tau Day.


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