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Topic: Gnu Geometry (again) -- reporting from Chicago
Replies: 3   Last Post: Apr 5, 2009 10:22 AM

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Kirby Urner

Posts: 4,713
Registered: 12/6/04
Gnu Geometry (again) -- reporting from Chicago
Posted: Apr 4, 2009 2:44 PM
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Just wanted to report that we had a good launching party
at the recent Pycon (Python conference, a computer language,
at the Hyatt near O'Hare). I was representing something
called the Institute for Science, Engineering and Public
Policy, which meets every so often at the boyhood home of
Linus Pauling (x2 Nobel prize, applied geometry to chem-
istry), on Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland, Oregon. I'm also a
marketing guy for a coffee shops consortium, met with a
beans vendor from the Bay Area, though that was unplanned.
My CTO in LA was on standby to produce my 3 hour
presentation as a high quality video, but it turned out
we had way skilled logistics, plus I was traveling on a
shoestring, given our status as a startup.

What is it I promulgated? There's a ton of stuff on file
already so best to stay DRY (DRY = don't repeat yourself).
Basically we're bringing a better spatial geometry to
Chicago schools, a next test market after Portland.

That's not to say a lot of HS geometry teachers came to
my talk, which cost extra and happened in the special
tutorials time before the main talks, which were
shorter. Educators self-organized as a BOF (Birds of a
Feather) once the main conference got started, about
sixteen of us present, including Jeff Elkner, HS teacher
in Yorktown VA.

This was a private sector more corporate crowd, lots of
software engineers and computer science types, most of
them not from academia. However, back in Portland I'm
more connected to the school system (in being a parent and
everything). There's a geographic component as well, e.g.
we have the map at Cleveland High (global studies) and
did some of the math pilots at Winterhaven (a geek
Hogwarts), both of these being Portland Public Schools.

Why Chicago? The Museum of Contemporary Art is showing
off some of the retro futurism associated with this stuff,
calls it 'Starting with Universe' or something similar.
I was joined in my visit by the conference chair and
Dr. Benson, visiting professor (Tizard.Standford). Here's
where the rubber meets the road as it were, as we turn
our spatial geometry into real world artifacts at this
point (what geometry is all about no? -- architecture and
geography (they go together)).

Here's a link to my slides, and to the Teacher Notes we
distributed. I'm happy to take questions but given my
prolific filings to date, that's probably not necessary.
However, if you're in Chicago, I recommend you visit that
museum before June. I bought a membership in hopes of
being back before closing time, maybe this time with

OK, back to regularly scheduled programming...


PS: one weird thing that we do is cram four balls
together into a tetrahedron and call that a unit of volume
(no rules against it, ask your teacher). Then we divide
that in to some other shapes, keeping the connecting to
sphere packing (hot topic in late 1900s, lotsa links).
A typical lesson plan packs outwardly from a nuclear
sphere per 1, 12, 42, 92... (you know the drill right?)
and makes the leap from cuboctahedral to icosahedral
numbers by way of something we call the Jitterbug
Transformation (ever hear of it?). This is a visual
explanation of why 1, 12, 42, 92 gets double billing, as
both the cuboctahedral and icosahedral figurate number
sequence. Familiar? We code it in Python, really easy
to prove (as H.S.M Coxeter found out, to his lasting
happiness and surprise):

def balls_in_shell( f ): return 10 * f * f + 2

That's right, one line of code. Liberation from
calculators is part of our marketing. Like, if you're
going to be using Google Earth anyway, you don't need a
whole separate chip for doing math. That'd be a
redundant investment yes?

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