The Noisy Channel

 

A Museum of Mathematics

September 30th, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Mathematics illuminates the patterns that abound in our world. The Math Factory strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics. Its dynamic exhibits and programs will stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of mathematics. The museum’s activities will lead a broad and diverse audience to understand the evolving, creative, human, and aesthetic nature of mathematics.

The above is the mission statement of The Math Factory, an organization headed by former Renaissance Technologies analyst (and CTY alumnus) Glen Whitney that aspires to build a national museum of mathematics in New York. The effort is well underway–the organization has raised $4M to date, attracted an impressive group of trustees and advisors, and has obtained quite a bit of enthusiastic press coverage. No wonder–the Math Midway it exhibited at the World Science Festival this past June was a wild success. I’d gone there to offer moral support, only to find that I was lucky to get close enough to see the exhibits!

Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend a gala at the Urban Academy and actually play with the exhibits–from riding a tricycle with square wheels to walking through a maze without making left turns. It was a blast! And, while I’ll admit to being favorably predisposed towards math, the exhibits hardly required such a predisposition–any more than the Exploratorium in San Francisco requires a predisposition towards science. Rather, experiences like these create excitement, overcoming the negative preconceptions that too many children (and adults!) have about this subjects.

While I suspect that many Noisy Channel readers are already sold on both the enjoyment and core societal value of mathematics, I encourage you to think about how much better a world we would have if this appreciation were more widely shared. For those who have to think about large numbers just to manage their assets, I encourage you to think of The Math Factory as worthy of your philanthropy. I encourage everyone to contribute your ideas and endorsements to this visionary effort.

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