M3 Math Majors Matter ----------------------------------

NEWS AND VIEWS

Local News

The Great Math Challenge
Five scavenger hunt forms were handed in on November 9th. Overall winner and first place in the category of students who have not taken Calculus was freshman Mehdi Bandali. Second place in this category was Jennifer Findley. The first place math major winner was Asmee Elmkhanter and the second place was taken by John Apodaca. First place winners took home a $30 gift certificate from the Auraria Book Store and the second place winners a $10 gift certificate from Starbucks.

Career Day
By popular demand, the undergraduate committee together with the Career Services Center is putting together a Career Day tentatively scheduled for early February. We will invite a panel of local employers to discuss what kinds of opportunities they have for math graduates (B.S. in Mathematics) and what they are looking for in successful candidates. Stay tuned for more details.

Math News

"Numbers are Male, Said Pythagoras, and the Idea Persists," by Margaret Wertheim. The New York Times, 3 October 2006.
A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences points to "widespread bias against women in science and engineering," Margaret Wertheim writes in a recent New York Times article. However, she notes, "there is reason to believe that when it comes to the mathematically intensive sciences like physics and astronomy, it is not just bureaucracies that stand in the way." Rather, she suggests, "the problem goes back to the ancient Greeks, particularly to Pythagoras."

After describing some of Pythagoras' great ideas, including "all is number," Wertheim describes how, like many Greek cults, the religion of Pythagoreanism was dualistic: reality consisted of the mind/spirit/transcendent realm versus the body/matter/earth realm. For Pythagoreans among others, the former was associated with maleness---and doing mathematics---and the latter with femaleness. In the 12th century, universities, founded to educate the clergy, by definition excluded women. In addition, "the Pythagorean association of mathematics with transcendence was easily imported into a Christian context... Thus, from the start, women were excluded from this academic field and its associated sciences."

Many women entering the sciences in the 1970s continue to be "stunned at how slow change has been," notes Wertheim. One of these is Gail Hanson, distinguished professor of physics at the University of California, Riverside, and winner of the W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in physics. She is one of the subjects of Out of the Shadows, a recent book about the "lives and work of 40 outstanding female physicists of the past century." Referring to her own as well as other female physicists' experience of bias, Hanson adds, "And when you get prizes, you're often treated even worse. Men can tolerate a woman in physics as long as she is in a subordinate position, but many cannot tolerate a woman above them."
--- Claudia Clark

"Math Factor Radio," by Ivars Peterson. Science News Online, 30 September 2006.
While the weekly television series NUMB3RS may be increasing people's awareness of mathematics, it is not the only game in town. In this article, Ivars Peterson reports on two other sources of mathematical entertainment.

The first is The Math Factor, a weekly program of "newsy and entertaining math snippets" presented by mathematician Chaim Goodman-Strauss on University of Arkansas public radio station, KUAF. In a recent segment, Goodman-Strauss and program host Kyle Kellams discussed the Poincaré Conjecture with geometer Jeff Weeks. Other program topics have included "cardinality, encryption, paradoxes, puzzles, [and] rates of change," according to Goodman-Strauss. You can listen to podcasts of The Math Factor by searching for "math factor."

For a "different sort of edifying experience", Peterson suggests an Internet radio station that plays "all science and math songs, all the time!" The host is Greg Crowther of the University of Washington in Seattle. Check it out. Peterson notes that listeners must subscribe to the service, or can purchase individual tracks.
--- Claudia Clark

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Mathematician Keith Devlin (email: devlin@csli.stanford.edu) is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University and The Math Guy on NPR's Weekend Edition.
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Ed Pegg Jr. is the webmaster for mathpuzzle.com. He works at Wolfram Research, Inc. as an associate editor of MathWorld.
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These web essays from the American Mathematical Society are designed for those who have already discovered the joys of mathematics as well as for those who may be uncomfortable with mathematics.

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