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Why math books are hot: a piece by Jane Boursaw and Tameka L. Hicks in the USA Weekend Magazine for September 21, 2003. In their investigation of why "... math books meant for pleasure reading are adding up to a trend," they spoke with Angela von der Lippe, a senior editor at Norton: "We're feeling comfortable with a subject that used to be disconnected from reality" and at the same time "There's an incredible appeal to math because it explains the mysterious." They spoke with Paul Nahin, a mathematician with a "popular" book underway: "Even people who aren't into math can appreciate how it makes the world go around." They spoke with Vicki Kearn at Princeton University Press, who blames it all on Andrew Wiles and Fermat's Last Theorem: "That seemed to be the beginning of math in the news. It was like beating Babe Ruth's record." Kearn goes on to comment on the recent flurry of public interest in the Riemann Hypothesis: "Probably, no one is going to solve it by reading one of these new math books, but it's very intriguing." Their article is available online.
Math on the golf course. "Math Institute wants MH move" is the headline on a story by Carol Holzgrafe in the October 17 2003 Morgan Hill Times, from San Benito County in California. The story gives the local take on ex-math-student millionaire John Fry's plans to install the American Institute of Mathematics on a golf course in Morgan Hill. The old Flying Lady Restaurant is being remodeled into a conference center. But there's more. Holzgrafe describes the Institute's unusual style of fostering progress in mathematical research: group work. As implemented by Fry and co-founder Steve Sorenson, you "bring a hand-picked group together in one room for a week or so and work on the problem together, in a kind of focus workshop." An alternative scenario works with larger groups: "30 or so men and women from the United States and around the world hear the problem outlined. They discuss, break up into smaller groups, then return and bat ideas around some more in an informal setting." AIM's specialty is "bringing together people from different disciplines ... Varied participants add new dimensions, perspectives and resources from which to find solutions." This according to Brian Corey, the Institute's Executive Director, who is quoted as saying: "They can connect the dots better working together." Holzgrafe goes on to enquire about the hallmarks of a good problem ("It must be important." "It must be beautiful.") and to recount the efforts of Associate Director Helen Moore to win more young women over to careers in mathematics by telling them about "the joys of math."
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