New Book Puts The Mirth In Math

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - Peanut butter and jelly, strawberries and cream, math and … humor? In math professor Colin Adams' newest collection of stories, math and laughs are the world's next big winning combination. "Riot at the Calc Exam and Other Mathematically Bent Stories" (American Mathematical Society, 2009) is chock full of comedic spoofs that aim to eradicate students' anxieties about math.

Compiled largely from Adams' "Mathematically Bent" column in the Mathematical Intelligencer, the collection contains many stories that are parodies of well-known tales or styles of writing tailored to the mathematical theme. Jokes span the field of math and the academic environment in which mathematicians work.

"The Mathematical Ethicist" answers troubled mathematicians' moral dilemmas; a professor confronts a man who comes to his office claiming to have "a proof of God"; and one story facetiously touts the merits of the Theorum Blaster (All Rights Reserved), which will help you trim your overweight theorum down to a manageable size.

At a class reunion for functions, Natural Log commiserates with Cosine over the fact that his wife Exponential Function left him; Dirk Magnum, P.I. is a principal investigator for the National Science Foundation; and a Worst-Case-Scenario Survival Handbook expertly advises on the perils of mathematics.


Adams, the Thomas T. Read Professor of Mathematics at Williams College, has received the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics in 1998 and Baylor University's Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teachers in 2003. A recipient of multiple National Science Foundation grants for his work on hyperbolic-3 manifolds, he was also a co-founder of the SMALL Undergraduate Research Program at Williams and also a Sigma Xi Distinguished lecturer for 2000-02.

Adams also has numerous lecture series, DVDs, and books that endeavor to make math less intimidating. He gives talks around the country as Mel Slugbate, a Texas real estate agent working in hyperbolic space, and Sir Randolph Bacon III, who lectures about "What Knot to Do When Sailing," an exploration of knot theory. He and math professor Tom Garrity have created two DVDs popular with high schools: "The Great Pi/e Debate: Which is the Better Number?" and "The United States of Mathematics Presidential Debate." He is the author of two humorous "streetwise guides" on how to ace calculus.

Adams received his B.S. from MIT in 1978 and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983.
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Williamstown Panel Looks at Context of Historic Monuments

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

A sign erected by the Williamstown Historical Commission to recognize the site of the 18th Century West Hoosac Fort.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town's newest committee Monday got down to the business of finding ways to talk about the truth of the Village Beautiful's founding.
 
The Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee discussed two historical markers and whether they do more to sanitize that history and marginalize Native Americans than they do to educate the public.
 
Lauren Stevens of the 1753 House Committee told the DIRE Committee that his group has discussed how to properly contextualize one of the highest profile structures in town, a replica of an 18th-century dwelling built in 1953 with period-specific techniques to help celebrate the town's centennial.
 
"Bilal [Ansari] was talking at the Friday afternoon Black Lives Matter rally, and he mentioned in a passing reference to the 1753 House that there were, indeed, people in this area before those being honored by the settlement in 1753," Stevens said.
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