The Math in the Window

When I first visited Finney Chapel at Oberlin College in Ohio, I was struck by the round window; it lacked the mirror symmetry typical of rose windows in Romanesque style buildings, of which Finney is one, and looked more like a geometry problem. Until I read more about its history, I thought it might be…
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Accidental Area Problem

Every summer, I participate in math photo challenge on Twitter. This week’s prompt was “area”; we were specifically instructed to “look for shapes made from one or more simple polygons or circles”. I found a very rich example right by the water fountain in the lobby of the San Diego Museum of Art. I was…
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Gift wrap and symmetry

This is a time of year when many of us are running around frantically shopping for gifts. Caught up in the spirit of the holidays, I was looking for some math-themed gift wrap as part of a holiday promotion for Geometiles.  In the middle of all the madness, this winter holiday giftwrap caught my eye because of its rotational symmetry. To most people “symmetry” means “mirror symmetry”. But to mathematicians, mirror symmetry is just one of the four types of symmetry used to classify patterns. The other three types of symmetry are rotational, translational, and glide reflection….
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