Wednesday, March 21, 2007

And I Thought I was Good at Spirograph

Team Cracks Century-Old Math Puzzle

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) -- An international team of mathematicians says it has cracked a 120-year-old puzzle that researchers say is so complicated that its handwritten solution would cover the island of Manhattan.

The 18-member group of mathematicians and computer scientists was convened by the American Institute of Mathematics in Palo Alto to map a theoretical object known as the "Lie group E8."

Lie (pronounced Lee) groups were invented by 19th-century Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie in his study of symmetrical objects, especially spheres, and differential calculus.

The E8 group, which dates to 1887, is the most complicated Lie group, with 248 dimensions, and was long considered impossible to solve.

"To say what precisely it is is something even many mathematicians can't understand," said Jeffrey Adams, the project's leader and a math professor at the University of Maryland.

I won't pretend to understand it either, but that is one groovy spirograph picture. The Friday Flashbacks have weighed down the mood here, so a little sugar and spice is in order. Luckily, we have Ladybug to keep us up to date on cultural happenings. I know there has been some tagging going on out there and I will post a bit when I have more time.


ladybug said...

That's really cool! I just love interesting brain-teaser trivia like this...I'm such a geek in some ways (just not so much of a techno-geek).

Like Snabby says, it's way above my head, but at least it's something pretty to look at!

Overdroid said...

I understand it. But it's hard to explain. Just know this - 42.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Math and I have never mixed, but that's a cool image!

Overdroid said...

Too bad none of them can get laid.

Swinebread said...


Pandabonium said...

Leave it to a Norwegian to come up with an unsolvable problem.