Today another in my fun-for-a-Friday series of reruns from the classic days of FAIC. This one was originally published in December of 2004. Enjoy!
I was highly amused to read on Raymond Chen’s blog the other day that mathematicians are hard at work solving the problem of how to most evenly distribute poppyseeds over a bagel. The reason I was highly amused was not just the whimsical description of what is actually a quite practical and difficult problem.
And yes, believe it or not, it is a practical problem; if you can figure out how to distribute points evenly around an arbitrary shape then you can use that information to develop more efficient computer algorithms to solve complex calculus problems that come up in physics all the time. There are also applications in computer graphics, I’d imagine; 3-D modeling frequently requires generating well-behaved finite approximations of a surface.
But I digress. The other reason I was highly amused is that Whidbey Island is the longest island in the United States.