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Bending and stretching classroom lessons to make math inspire


At the aptly named Tiny Thai restaurant here, a small table, about two and a half feet square, was jammed with a teapot, two plates of curry, a bowl of soup, two cups of tea, two glasses of water, a plate with two egg rolls, a plate of salad and an iPhone. For most people, this would have been merely an unwieldy lunch. For Vi Hart, her mind pondered the mathematical implications, reports the New York Times.

“There’s a packing puzzle here,” she said. “This is the kind of thing where if you’re accustomed to thinking about these problems, you see them in everything.”

Mathematicians over the centuries have thought long and deep about how tightly things, like piles of oranges, can be packed within a given amount of space…

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