The 2018 Joint Meetings are just around the corner, and lots of great stuff is going on in San Diego. There will be lectures on current events in math, panels and sessions highlighting inclusion in the field and on January 11th Vi Hart and Matt Parker will be presented with the 2018 JPBM Communications Awards.
Since math communication is both the medium and raison d’être of this blog, I thought it would be nice to give a timely homage to these fantastic, inspirational, and aspirational communicators.
I first learned about Vi Hart in the way back when she first made a splash with her charmingly narrated doodly-math videos. The first I ever saw was Infinity Elephants and having just rewatched it a moment ago: it’s perfection! She takes you from hum-drum stream of consciousness math class doodling to infinite series and the sizes of infinity and you almost don’t notice it happening. It’s really mesmerizing. From her more recent submissions, I really liked Smarties in which she discusses the mathematical openability of a roll of Smarties and does some geometric Smartie constructions. Arguably one of Hart’s finest works is Twelve Tones, a doodly discourse on 12-tone musical compositions that made me lol on several occasions. Hart also keeps a blog on her website where she writes about all sorts interesting stuff.
Matt Parker, who tweets @standupmaths is a mathematical comedian, and to my knowledge still the only person to sell out a many-thousand seat comedy venue by telling math jokes. He posts his own videos to his YouTube channel. Some in which he teaches math concepts, like in What does i^i=?, others wherein he and his friend Hugh play with a thing and then do some working out, and others yet where he does incredible standup comedy about math which make me lol a whole whole lot. Parker is also a frequent guest on the very popular Numberphile video series.
The humor and levity that these two are able to inject into their conversations about math is truly a thing of beauty. I am captivated by them both, and I know that many people who consider themselves no-so-mathy have been won over by Hart and Parker. So as a fellow communicator of math, my sincerest thanks to both of you for raising the bar, elevating the art, and making math seem so stinking cool.
If you’re interested in getting on the math communication bandwagon, I’d urge you to apply for the AAAS-AMS Mass Media Fellowship. You will be embedded at a top tier news media outlet where you’re get to learn the skills of the trade and share your passion for mathin’ with the whole wide world. Both Evelyn and I are alumni of the program. Applications are due on January 15th.