WitCH 120: Unanalytic Continuation

Ten years ago, Numberphile came out with a now famous/infamous video featuring physicist Tony Padilla, in which Padilla “proves” that 1 + 2 + 3 + … = -1/12. It was quickly followed by a second, “what we really mean” video and some rebuttal notes by Padilla. At the time, Burkard and I (too) softly hammered Numberphile for this, in one of our final Age columns. A few years later, Burkard hammered Numberphile much harder, in an early Mathologer video.* Now, Numberphile has come out with two new videos: The return of -1/12, featuring Berkeley mathematician Tony Feng; and Does -1/12 protect us from infinity, with Padilla.

I have my views, but this a WitCH (thus summarising my views). So it’s your job. The two new videos are below. Go for it.

*) See also my post defending Burkard’s uncollegial hammering of Numberphile, an earlier WitCH on Numberphile (and Too Much Woo), a post on my general dislike of mathematics documentaries and on video as a medium for maths ed, and a video containing my proof that 1 + 2 + 3 (no dots) equals -1/12 (48:45 and 55:00). 

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Are the Times Tables Turning?

Non-blog life (otherwise known as life) has eased up enough to get back to posting, and there’s quite a backlog of topical, “must do today” posts, plus a requested TNDOT. Usually, if I don’t get to a topical post quickly then I just drop the idea. Some recent media stuff has sufficiently annoyed me, however, that I’ll pretend it’s all still topical and I’ll post anyway.

First, another quick word about Tony Gardiner, who unexpectedly died last month. Tony’s death has affected me deeply, particularly given that I never met him, modulo attending a memorable lecture, and given that it was for only a couple years that we conversed, by email and through this blog. But I had begun to realise, and more so with his death, how much Tony had been guiding me, by explicit, admirably blunt, advice, and much more by example. I realised that I had started to compose blog posts with a “What would Tony think?” voice in my head. And Tony’s example is unparalleled. The amount that Tony contributed to mathematics education, for decades, is simply phenomenal, much of it dirt cheap or free. Tony had a missionary dedication to the mathematics education community, and he had a wisdom about mathematics education second to none. I know how fortunate I am to have Tony’s voice in my head. It will always be there.

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Whip Me, Beat Me, Call Me Edna

I’m still desperately trying to find some clear air to get back to proper blogging, but just a quick meta one.

For the last few weeks, readers of this blog have been annoyed by that idiotic “discover more” pop-up subscription thing. I didn’t initiate the stupid thing, and I’ve yelled at the blogger service that seemingly did. But I was also too snowed to think hard how to stop it until, yesterday, Franz the Complainer thought to mention his annoyance. Then I dug around and figured out how to stop it. (Hopefully.) So, the message is: abuse me. Continue reading “Whip Me, Beat Me, Call Me Edna”

Welcome, You New Guys

Over the last few days there has been a number of new subscribers to this blog: the influx has raised the total to seventeen. I guess you new guys are somehow a byproduct of the ABC story on VCAA’s maths exams, but I’m not sure exactly how. Presumably someone wrote a social media thing saying “Marty isn’t an asshole, you should subscribe”, or “Marty is an asshole, you should subscribe”, or something. Anyway, welcome, and if you care to indicate how you got here, I’m curious. Continue reading “Welcome, You New Guys”

Sending a Message to ACT’s Education Experts

This one is by request, and it’s way, way late. A month or so ago, I was contacted by Jessica Ring, a member of something called the ACT Alliance for Evidence-Based Education. Jessica contacted me because there had been set up a lightning ACT literacy and numeracy inquiry, and Jessica was hoping I would make a submission. Which I will, because I tend to do what people ask, and because Jessica and AAEBE appear to be batting for the good team. I would also appreciate it if readers considered making a brief submission, either by email or by answering the typically easy (and typically annoying) online survey. I give some details of and general thoughts on the inquiry below, the Terms of Reference are here and the Consultation Paper is here. The deadline for submissions is in a week, on 14 February. 13/02/24 The deadline for submissions has been extended two weeks, until 28 February.

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