Geez, had I known the math people have such a knack for playing around with materials to make exuberant visuals, I would have found my way back to math years before I did. I just recently got back from the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) MOVES conference, celebrating recreational mathematics, which was finally scheduled after pandemic postponements. A few years ago I had been at another one of MoMath’s conferences, focused on paper folding, which was simply stellar. This one focused on puzzles and games, and, wow, what a visual feast.
Didn’t take many photos, as I was mostly taking it all in. But did get a few…
I got a close-up look at David Plaxco’s designs on Rubik’s Cubes. Mind boggling and stunning. I’ve been watching David’s work on Instagram, cubes_art but being able to hold some of his cubes and see all their sides was quite a thrill. I had spoken to him years ago after meeting him at previous conferences, and was intrigued with how he was thinking about seeing knots on cubes, but seeing where he’s taken this work was such so uplifting.
I also got to be in the room with Chaim Goodman-Strauss, who I’ve been hanging out with weekly this summer in MoMath sponsored Polyhedra Party sessions, where we’ve been building with paper. Here, though, what Chaim has done is used interlocking mats to create wildly big and beautiful hyperbolic surfaces. I love that his blackboard scrollings got into this photo, too.
Chaim brought a huge amount of modified rubber mats to New York, and ,was heroically assisted by the museum’s director, Cindy Lawrence who (if am remembering this correctly) carted through the city, via cab, so they’d be ready for us to use to make these enormous waving surfaces.
There were so many fun details to enjoy. For instance, when I asked Lauren Seigel for her card, here’s the spread I got to choose from.
The above photo is a print that Bob Hearn gave out after his talk called The Fractal Beauty of Compound Symmetry Groups, where he showed us one stunning image after the other, and how they evolved through orderly overlapping of shapes. His was the last talk of the last day, so I was pretty happy just to sit in the auditorium and watch the pretty pictures.
I had proposed a family workshop for the event, but this time around, probably because of the times we live in, there weren’t many families at this conference. Still, I had a small but mighty group come to do a tricky make-and-take project,
What we made is very much like what some people know as a magic wallet, though what I showed is able to be extended in the traditional toy, the Jacob’s Ladder, hence I call it Li’l Jacob.
To practice what I’d be doing at the conference, I made a video of the steps. Pretend you are in the room with me, and give it try!
As much I as I liked being at the conference, and enjoyed getting back to the city that was my home for nearly twenty years, the conference days happened on some of the hottest days of the summer. Outside, I fried.
Was happy to get home to green grass and flowers.