By:  | 

One, Two, Three Clubs Visit NYC's Museum of Math

I love math. There, I said it. And, I don’t just mean I kinda enjoy math like I kinda enjoy Pringles. I genuinely love numbers, and how they control everything. Numbers are amazing. They fit together in ways you wouldn’t expect, and do things you couldn’t even imagine. And, most of all, I love solving puzzles. There’s something extremely gratifying about finally being able to figure out how to solve a problem. Something that originally seemed impossible...isn’t. There’s no better feeling than the satisfaction one feels after working on a problem for a long time, and then, in that epiphany moment, you understand what you’ve been doing wrong.

Many students at Yeshiva University, especially those in the YU Physics, Math, and Computer Science Clubs at YU would certainly agree. Together, these three clubs visited the Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath, located by Madison Square Park on Sunday, December 21st.

There’s nowhere better to explore the beauties of math than at MoMath. There were twelve of us; intimate enough to feel like a group, but large enough to not feel weird among the sea of elementary school children. The museum is small and acts as a sort of fun introduction to mathematics. It has longer explanations for college-aged groups like ourselves; in any case, we were the oldest people in the museum other than the jovial employees and staff.

We were given an exclusive tour of the museum by none other than Amichai Levy, a Yeshiva University graduate, who who has gone on to work for Three Byte Intermedia, and was involved in building many of the museum’s exhibits.

He first brought us to the “Mathenaeum,” a sculpture generator which allows a user to build any shape using a control pad and a palette of operations, and then creates the shape using a 3D printer. Our tour guide explained how he had to read up on many academic articles about linear algebra to get it working and that, yes, it is possible to design shapes that are possible only on the computer and cannot be built by the printer.

We then visited the main attraction, Robot Swarm: the latest exhibit which allows children to interact with robots on a giant, arena-like board.There were four modes in which the robots would interact, all based on sensors built into the robots. Levy explained all the coding strategies that are necessary to program such a large venture, and quizzed us on how much we understood. However, the highlight was simply watching the kids play on the board, and, when one of the robots got stuck, Levy was able to quickly take out his computer and remotely access the program and to find the problem.

Junior Daniel Goldmsith, President of the YU Physics Club, was directly involved in finding Levy and planning the event. “We had a great turnout and hope to involve even more students in the future,” Goldsmith said. “Science is dynamic, and we at the Physics Club hope that all students can be a part of it!”

Physics and mathematics student John Vahedi (YC ‘15) agreed. “It was insightful to see the complexity and work that went into such seemingly simple exhibitions. Theoretically, MoMath could have been presented as a children's museum, yet we were shown what laid within the heart of these displays. What I took away from our adventure was [that] there is so much opportunity and richness in even what we might discount as 'everyday things.’”

Math is often seen as boring, or uninteresting. It has been associated with the image of the “nerd” who wears a pocket protector. But, here we were, a group of college students, way too old to be there on our own, all excited to be part of this group. All excited to learn about how we both use and don’t use numbers all around us. All excited to do something amazing if only given the chance. All excited about math.

And hey, it sure beats eating Pringles.