Visualizing Vastness, and Other Tales -- Steven Strogatz

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I've used Steven Strogatz's wonderful book "The Joy of X" in my Math for Liberal Arts classes for awhile now.

Some of the chapters in that book were originally published in the New York Times -- the idea being that the things Strogatz was writing about might be able to reach the hearts and minds of the general public.

Just recently I became aware of a second set of New York Times articles, featuring more of Strogatz's beautiful expository writing, attempting to reach citizens with some interest (but perhaps little background) in mathematics. I thought we'd take a look at several of them (Selections from Strogatz's Me, Myself and Math Series, published in the New York Times in 2012.). There were six in the series, and I've picked my favorite foursome (with a nod to those who claimed the golden mean as their favorite number -- Proportion Control).


  1. Visualizing Vastness: Archimedes (circa 250 BC) was famous for his attempt to calculate the number of grains of sands that would fit into the universe (as understood at that time). Please respond to Strogatz's article.
  2. Dangerous Intersection: respond to this article.
  3. Proportion Control: respond to this article
  4. Singular Sensations: respond to this article