Math is Beautiful: A Snapshot from the JMM Exhibits Hall

Diana Davis with earrings

Diana Davis at the Math is Beautiful booth in aisle 200 of the exhibit hall.

There is so much beautiful math in the exhibits hall–seriously, there is no way I could give a survey of everything down here!  So instead I’ll just share a snapshot (or a few) of one of the great exhibitors. Diana Davis is a mathematician studying periodic billiard paths (primarily on pentagons!), a Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore, and Artist/Creative Chief/CEO of Math is Beautiful (“But it’s just me,” Diana says when I run this title by her–yes, she is the sole employee of her small company).  She makes and sells earrings, coasters, T-shirts, and other items featuring her mathematical creations/discoveries and social justice.  I stopped by to see Diana’s Math is Beautiful booth in aisle 200 of the exhibits hall (100 level of the Baltimore Convention Center).  She also has two beautiful pieces in the Mathematical Art Exhibit (right next to her booth in the Exhibits Hall).

Diana's pieces at the JMM Mathematical Art Exhibition.

Diana’s pieces at the JMM Mathematical Art Exhibition.

Why and how did she start making earrings? “I learned to use a laser cutter thanks to Moon Duchin’s billiards research cluster in Boston, and, well consider this for yourself: suppose you can use a laser cutter, and you study pentagon billiards trajectories–what would you make?  Earrings and coasters are what I thought of.  I’d like to make belt buckles, but the engineering on that is a little beyond me at this point.”

Sekou Rowe, a Sophomore Chemical Engineering major at Howard University, checks out the earrings. Sekou did math research over the summer on numerically solving the Far Field Refractor Problem, and is presenting a poster with his collaborator Harena Yemane at the MAA Undergraduate Poster session, 4:30-6:00 PM on Friday.

Sekou Rowe, a Sophomore Chemical Engineering major at Howard University, checks out the earrings. Sekou did math research over the summer on numerically solving the Far Field Refractor Problem, and is presenting a poster with his collaborator Harena Yemane at the MAA Undergraduate Poster session, 4:30-6:00 PM on Friday.

And so, she continues, “That’s why I make earrings.  I looked at the mathematical jewelry that exists on Etsy, and there’s a lot of it–like 20 pages of results.  It’s all pi, and infinity, and Archimedian spirals.  And I thought that people who like math deserve to have the option of research mathematics on their ears.”  The earrings Diana creates are based on her original research in periodic pentagonal billiards, which is joint work with Samuel Lelièvre. The drawings that the earrings are patterned on were done in Sage (which also has a booth at the JMM exhibition hall!).

 

Diana Davis speaking with Joseph Silverman and Adriana Salerno about billiards and earrings.

Diana Davis speaking with Joseph Silverman and Adriana Salerno about billiards and earrings.

The earrings are laser cut from plastic, etched on plastic, or laser burned on extremely light wood.

The earrings are laser cut from plastic, etched on plastic, or laser burned on extremely light wood.

Diana is speaking at 8:00 AM on Friday in the AMS Special Session on Geometry and Dynamics of Continued Fractions in room 337 of the Baltimore Convention Center.  Her talk, on the work depicted in the earrings, is entitled “Continued fractions for the golden L, and billiards in the pentagon”.  She is also organizing the MAA Invited Paper Session on Beauty and Art from Research Mathematics, 8:00-10:50 AM on Saturday in room 323 of the BCC.

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