Daily Archives: January 10, 2016


Alison Grace Martin, artist (right), working on "Around a Torus" with students Quoc-Thinh Truong and Natalie Kratts.

Alison Grace Martin, artist (right), working on “Around a Torus” with students Quoc-Thinh Truong and Natalie Kratts.

At 11:30 AM on Friday I suddenly realized that time was running out to see the art show, which closed at noon. I could have spent quite a while there but had to be content with a targeted strike. First, I stopped to talk to Alison Grace Martin and Quoc-Thinh Truong, who were working hard on a very striking wood-strip sculpture of a torus. Martin traveled from Italy to create the collaborative sculpture at the JMM after her proposal was chosen from a field of submissions. Conference participants had been helping out with with the project all week. The first step was making ten-, twelve-, and fourteen-pointed stars out of wood strips. These stars were then assembled to create the torus. The positive curvature portions were assembled out of the ten- and twelve pointed stars (similar to a soccer ball’s hexagon/pentagon tiling), while the negative curvature on the inside of the torus was obtained by incorporating the fourteen-pointed stars (which could be correspondingly thought of as heptagons). Truong, a Junior double major in math and physics at Lenoir-Rhyne University, had put in a lot of time on the project.

A lot of the art on display was pretty impressive. Most of the artists were not present, so I was unfortunately not able to get permission to photograph their work, but I did find a link to some great shots.  However, I felt is was probably okay to take pictures of some people enjoying “Tessercraft”, created by Ben Signa, a student at San Francisco State University, since the photos don’t actually show the art. “Tessercraft” is a sort of virtual reality trip through the 3-d representations of 4-d shapes. A person wearing the headset can look in all directions and use a joystick to move around in a world of geometry. I couldn’t really explore the whole world because “walking” around in the world, especially climbing on and falling off of the Minecraft-like bricks, made me feel really disoriented and almost carsick. But it was awesome. Celes Woodruff, an Assistant Professor at James Madison University, was enjoying the headset, when her colleague Assistant Professor Cassie Williams took a picture and said, “This is going on the department webpage!“

“It’s worth it,” Woodruff said.

Celes Woodruff and Colin Weir enjoying "Tesseract", a creation of Ben Signa.

Celes Woodruff and Colin Weir enjoying “Tesseract”, a creation of Ben Signa.

More enjoying of "Tessercraft".

More “Tessercraft” fun.

After Math, Aftermath


Andrea Young as the department chair and Aaron Calderon as Mathematicus.

Andrea Young as the department chair and Aaron Calderon as brave Mathematicus.

Every year at the math meetings I notice the intriguing “Mathematically Bent Theatre” on the JMM schedule and plan to go. Until this year I had been thwarted by appointments and exhaustion. But no longer! Finally made it to watch Colin Adams and the Mobiusband players perform mathefied comedic skits. This was such a great choice for Friday night—the skits were really funny and the silliness was excellent brain balm after three days of hard math talks. Ah the joys of “Aftermath,” in which a dishonest mathematician (Tom Garrity) dies and is damned to help the devil (Adams) truly randomize the tortures of hell. “Mathematicus,” is the story of an uprising of brave students led by Mathematicus (Aaron Calderon) against the tyranny of mathematical logic, which forces the math professor-opressors (led by Andrea Young as department chair) to search for a new con. Finally, mean Professor Scourge’s heart grows three sizes in “A Pi Day Carol,” when he (Adams) is visited on Pi Day Eve by the spirits of Gauss, Noether, and his worst ever paper reviewer. These skits got me into the spirit and I will now have to go on a back issue reading binge of Adams’ Mathematically Bent column in Mathematical Intelligencer.