## The Yale blackboard rebellion

In 1830, nearly half of the mathematics class at Yale was expelled for refusing to use a blackboard in their exams.

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# Category: Mathematics & statistics

## The Yale blackboard rebellion

## Da Vinci’s fractal trees

## Cosmic ladder (Part 2)

## Cosmic ladder (Part 1)

## Ghost leg

## Mathematical collective

## Math homework

## Mathematical coincidence

## The birthday paradox

## Prehistoric mathematics

## Infinity and beyond

## First vanishing point

## Nontransitive dice

## Hyperbolic crochet

## The false positive paradox

## Infinite pi

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In 1830, nearly half of the mathematics class at Yale was expelled for refusing to use a blackboard in their exams.

Leonardo da Vinci observed that tree branches together are always as thick as the trunk beneath them. This is true, and there are some good ideas why.

To measure distances in deep space, you need to look for candles in the darkness. [2 of 2]

It’s a lot more difficult to measure distances in space than you might think. [1 of 2]

Ghost leg is a technique to randomly match up two groups – assigning a list of chores to a list of people, for example. And all you need is a drawing of a ladder.

Since 1939 an author named Nicolas Bourbaki has published a series of volumes on pure mathematics. But Bourbaki does not exist.

In 1939 a student at UC Berkeley copied down two homework problems from the class blackboard. He solved them in a few days… and then discovered that they were two of the thorniest unsolved theorems in statistics.

A billionth of a century is approximately pi seconds. The diameter of the Earth is roughly half a billion inches.

Put 70 people in a room and there’s a 99.9% chance that two of them share a birthday. Why?

The Ishango bone, found in what is today part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and dating back 20,000 years, may contain some of the earliest evidence of mathematical thought.

The set of natural numbers is infinite: 1, 2, 3…. The set of real numbers is also infinite: 0.1, 0.11, 0.12, 0.2… but it’s larger than the infinity of natural numbers. Georg Cantor devised an elegant argument to prove these different infinities.

Masaccio’s Holy Trinity is possibly the earliest surviving work of art to use a single vanishing point. His work and that of Brunelleschi triggered a Renaissance explosion of mathematical perspective in art.

Consider three special dice: A, B, and C. On a fair roll, A is more likely to beat B. B is more likely to beat C. But C is more likely to beat A. These are nontransitive dice.

In 1997, professor of mathematics and crochet enthusiast Daina Taimiņa found a way to join those two passions in order to craft durable sections of hyperbolic surfaces.

Consider a medical test for a disease suffered by 1% of the population, which has a 5% “false positive” error rate. If you test positive, what are the chances that you are actually ill? In fact, it’s less than 17%.

The Indian mathematician Mādhava was the first to use infinite series to calculate pi, some time around 1400 CE.