Bach’s Mobius Strip


Sometimes when artists visualize music, it detracts from the piece (scenes from Fantasia come to mind…), but this little animation by Jos Leys shows just how brilliant Bach can be.

Just HOW Badly Do You Need that A in Math?


This month a research team at Oxford University reported on their continuation of a study that repeated and built upon a 2010 experiment on a different group of patients: for 5 days, the patients either received real or false electrical stimulations while performing math tasks. Those who received the real stimulations were performing the math tasks two to five times faster than those without.

Happy Birthday, Sophie Germain!

Sophie Germain's grave, photo by Miek Messerschmidt on Wikipedia, cc.

Today marks the 237th birthday of the French mathematician Sophie Germain (1776-1831). While her work in elasticity was fundamental to the field, her work on proving Fermat’s Last Theorem blew 200 years of previous attempts out of the water. Her story is an inspiring one of self-starting, persistance, and courage. Happy birthday, Germain!

No Starch Press Manga Guides Make Science Fun

Have you ever read a textbook cover to cover? I’m in grad school. I’ve had to do it more than once. It usually requires massive amounts of caffeine and re-reading a lot of pages. Well, there’s some good news. No Starch Press has The Manga Guide series on textbook topics, such as statistics, electricity, and molecular biology. The manga books are written by Japanese subject matter experts. They have been translated to English and (thankfully) rearranged to read from left to right.

Muse of Nerds: College Physics, Innovative Robotics, Homeschooling — Dr. McColgan Can Do It All!


For my Muse of Nerds this month, I’ll formally introduce you to someone I have talked about in the past: Dr. Michele McColgan of Siena College. I met her through our homeschooling group (she has two elementary-aged children) and she has introduced my kids to science, math, robots, computer programming, alternative energy, a Lego Robotics Team…and more than I remember. I first mentioned Michele in

STEM to STEAM: The Importance of Arts in Science


For this month’s Muse of Nerds, I quickly grabbed onto the STEM to STEAM movement (adding ‘arts’ to the technical.) Creativity is the foundation for advancement in all fields. The arts — writing, music, art, theater and dance — paired with science, technology, engineering and math, foster a relationship between both sides of the brain for maximum human innovation potential. Trying to place STEM at

Celebrate Pi Day by Learning the Secret of the Circle


Hands-on projects are great learning tools for kids, especially when they involve the word ‘secret’. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Pi Day (March 14 or “3.14”) with kids than to help them unlock the circle’s secret and discover Pi!  This fun activity uses common office supplies and household materials and is easy even for younger kids. Materials needed A compass or

What Do Smart Zombies Want? Apps For Better Brains!


I’m not sure what kind of geeky conversations go on in your households, but a common lament in my house is the lack of quality zombie apps on the market. Rather than listening to this diatribe yet again, I suggested that my son write it all down. Here’s his take on the state of the zombie app market, along with his idea of the perfect

How Stephen King Taught Me Percentile Rank and the Normal Curve


I was driving my ’58 Plymouth Fury on a long trip out of Boulder, Colorado to a strange town in Maine, when I stopped at a hotel along the way for a needed caffeine boost. A man in glasses and a way with words came over and asked, “So, what do you know about percentile rank and the normal curve?”  It was strange for a