Colm Mulcahy, Spelman College and American University
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Abstract: The theme of Mathematics Awareness Month 2014, which launches April 1, is "Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery," which is closely patterned after the title of a classic 1956 Dover paperback by the legendary Martin Gardner (1914-2010). Mathematics Awareness Month will provide people with multimedia opportunities to explore 30 updated takes on the kinds of topics Martin made famous via his 300-odd "Mathematical Games" columns for Scientific American, and associated books. These range from hexaflexagons, magic squares, geometric vanishes, möbius bands, and mathemagic, to juggling, Penrose tiles, and the connection between card shuffling and fractals. I'll provide sneak previews of several of these activities, while surveying Martin Gardner's achievements, and highlighting the potential for outreach to the nation's youth.
Biography: Colm Mulcahy is a professor of mathematics at Spelman College, in Atlanta, where he has taught since 1988. He's currently visiting American University in Washington, D.C. Over the last decade, he has been at the forefront of publishing new mathemagical principles and effects for cards, particularly in his long-running bimonthly Card Colm column for the MAA. Some of his card effects have been featured in the New York Times Numberplay blog. His book Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects was published by AK Peters/CRC Press in 2013.
Mulcahy’s interests are broad, ranging from algebra and number theory to geometry. He earned a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in mathematical science from University College Dublin in his native Ireland, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University for research in the algebraic theory of quadratic forms, under Alex F.T.W. Rosenberg.
Mulcahy gave the MAA Lecture for Students at MAA MathFest 2009 in Portland, Oregon, and is a recipient of MAA's Allendoerfer Award for excellence in expository writing, for an article on image compression using wavelets. He's part of the team heading up Mathematics Awareness Month 2014, which is inspired by the legacy of Martin Gardner, whom he was fortunate to know for the last decade of his life. He also chairs the Martin Gardner Centennial Committee.
Mulcahy tweets at @CardColm and highly recommends that Gardner fans follow @WWMGT and @MGardner100th. Twitter users may also enjoy following @MathAware (Mathematics Awareness Month).