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Math in the News: All about Knots

In the March 19 Style section of the Washington Post, Paul Richard gives us an engaging essay pointing out that "What goes around, comes around, all tied up in knots." Richard makes note of the art, science, and mathematics involved in the ordinary things we call knots, which, he declares, "made humans human."

The technologies of tying have given humanity everything, says Richard, from bindings to hanging materials, baskets, nets, ropes, textiles, calculating devices, crocheting—and to knot theory. Knot theory started in the 19th century, when Lord Kelvin assumed atoms were tiny knots in the pervasive ether. In 1990, Vaughn Jones won the Fields Medal for finding a formula that differentiates knots, which came to be called the "Jones polynomial." The article mentions that, every year since 1995, George Washington University has held a knot theory conference. Last year, the subject was "Quandles—their homology and applications."

Richard's essay also highlights a crocheted version of the Lorenz manifold, created by Bernd Krauskopf and Hinke Osinga of Bristol University.H. Waldman

News Date: 
Monday, March 19, 2007