April 9, 2009

Building a Temple to Math

Glen Whitney is on a quest to give the field of mathematics the museum it deserves.

David Goldenberg

Glen Whitney has a dream. It's a geeky dream, sure, but it's also a democratic one. He wants to bring math back to the people by creating a world-class interactive math museum, the only one of its kind in the country. For the last few years, Whitney has devoted himself to the cause, pushing aside a lucrative career as a hedge-fund algorithm manager to bring the vision of the Math Factory to life.

He's still got a ways to go on his quest—his team still needs a museum site, for example—but his enthusiasm is endless, and he thinks that he has a real chance to convince people that math is not just a hard subject that gets harder the more you look into it. "It's not that non-mathematicians need to be able to understand and enjoy more complicated forms of math," he says. "It's that they need to understand that there are more forms of math than they ever dreamed of, that the world of math is open for exploration by anybody, and that math is something to enjoy and take delight in."

Post a comment

Comment Rules

The following HTML is allowed in comments:
Bold: <b>Text</b>
Italic: <i>Text</i>
<a href="URL">Text</a>


- Science
- posted on Jun 08, 09

I see even more layers of abstraction put upon problem with some monument that most won't see; teaching is one on one; "how" is craftsman showing apprentice; Richard P. Feyman; let's start with those that want to learn; why waste resources?

- Science
- posted on Jul 30, 09
Bunnie Tent

Hi David!

Your article is wonderful, and I'm so glad you are working in math. My 3rd book "Leonhard Euler and the Bernoullis" will be out this fall with AKPeters, and my first book on Gauss is now in its 3rd printing.

Jared Taylor (graduated Altamont 8(?) years ago) sent me a fascinating article about the stupid way we teach math. If you'll send me your email address, I'll send you the article. It likens the way we teach math to teaching art by having kids do a paint-by-numbers project.

I will be in New York Aug 31-Sep 2 and would love to take Glen Whitney's math tour of Manhattan. Do you know if that's possible. Are you located in New YOrk now? Virginia is marrying her partner on Aug 29 in Brooklyn, and I will have a few days to kill before John's marriage to Anne Gray in Vermont the following weekend.

With fond regards, Bunnie Tent

- Science
- posted on Apr 07, 10
Jenny and Steeve

I'm trying to find out if we could take Glen Whitney's math tour. We'll be in NYC this Friday April 9-Wed. April 14 and would love to check it out!

Article by David Goldenberg

Contact this author