Infinitely Irrational

A podcast where we discuss the real, eccentric and complex history of mathematics.

by Nathmatical Expressions

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Hi, I’m Nathalie and I teach math.

But that wasn’t where I started. As a student, I was a theatre major with a passion for good stories. When I changed my major to math, I discovered that the mathematics field is filled with figures and stories that would make Shakespeare (or George R.R. Martin, anyway) jealous. There are cunning witches, golden gods, ruthless murderers, epic duels, windswept romances, and so much more. When I started teaching, it wasn’t long before I started sharing some of these stories with my students. Not only did my students get more interested in the math itself, the stories had the unintended benefit of making my students more open with me and more willing to go out of their comfort zones (especially with the more challenging word problems!).

This planted the seeds for the Infinitely Irrational podcast. I knew these were good stories, but I needed to dig in deeper to get all the facts. These histories are woven with myth and intrigue. But I knew I couldn't do it alone...and I knew just who could help: my friend Kay (who specializes in research and also loves weird stories).

I'm Kay and I didn't always do this.

But my friend came to me saying, "Help me with my dream!" and who can say no to that? So I delved into a strange new world where everything I knew was suddenly upended. Mathematicians weren't stodgy, droning men with protractors in their pockets, but instead wore Willy Wonka-esque tophats as they tamed wildlife. Math ceased to be safe and certain and instead became fodder for duels and divining the future. Now that this wondrous door has been opened, I'm not sure I can ever go back. I'm sure I don't want to. These fascinating secrets, cleverly hidden behind calculators and graph papers need to be told. A big thanks for taking me to "mathmagicland."

Together, we unearth the sometimes whimsical, sometimes strange, and (sometimes) true stories of the men and women behind the math. We hope you enjoy!