Hello everybody! This week's post is a little different. We're going to be looking at some of my favorite math videos right now! Reading and watching your way through this article will show you some of the creative, zany side of math, all explained by some of the best mathematicians and experts out there! I'm so excited for you to learn from this selection and be inspired to explore more from these YouTubers and more about these subjects. So without further ado, here's my top 8 (in no particular order)!
1. Standup Comedy Routine about Spreadsheets - standupmaths
I'll start with a video from one of my favorite standup mathematicians, Matt Parker. He's both a comedian and a mathematician, hence the name standup mathematician, and he does an amazing job putting together comedy routines and other fun videos. Here's my favorite one at the moment. It's about spreadsheets, but there's also great videos about barcodes, vortex motion (where he literally makes a tornado in the audience) and fax machines, you name it!
2. The Basel Problem - 3Blue1Brown
3Blue1Brown is a YouTuber that I absolutely love. He programs all of his own videos to animate them, giving us completely unique visuals that explain everything so well. His videos tend to require a little more prior knowledge of math, so don't get frustrated if you don't know everything he's talking about. You can usually get the gist of it without knowing all the details, and the conclusions he reaches are absolutely mind-blowing. My favorite video of his is about the Basel Problem, or the fact that 1 + (1/4) + (1/9) + (1/16) + ..., a series that seemingly has nothing to do with pi, is equal to (pi)^2/6. The proof of it is typically done with calculus, but you don't need any calculus to understand this amazing geometric proof with lighthouses, so sit back, enjoy and get your mind blown!
3. The Parker Square - Numberphile
Now that I've introduced you to Matt Parker, I can show you a classic. This is a Numberphile video where Matt Parker tries to reveal an "amazing" creation of his, a magic square that just falls short of what it's supposed to do. He urges the Numberphile creator, Brady Haran, not to publicize it at all, and... well, you'll see what happens.
See? Even the best mathematicians don't always succeed. It's all part of the process. :)
And guess what? The T-shirts they're talking about at the end are real! I have one!
4. Wind and Mr. Ug - Vi Hart
Vi Hart is an amazing math YouTuber who is just so creative with her videos. She explores so many fascinating concepts from fractals to hexaflexagons to dragons to Thanksgiving turkey. She doesn't post videos that much anymore, but her old videos are such classics that I think you would love watching all of them. This one is a description and exploration of the small planet of Wind and Mr. Ug. It's on a different kind of surface, one you may have heard of... I won't give it away.
5. The hardest problem on the hardest test - 3Blue1Brown
I've got to add another 3Blue1Brown video on here! The quality of both his animation and explanation blows me away, and this time he decided to explain an International Math Olympiad (IMO) problem, the world championship of math annually, aka the hardest test. The fact that he is able to break down and explain this problem to his viewers is pretty incredible, and though I think this video may be pretty hard to understand especially because most of you are middle schoolers, I still want to expose you to some higher-level math. Remember you don't have to understand everything to appreciate what's going on here (and you can always come back to this in a couple years and see just how much more you can understand)!
6. Wau: The Most Amazing, Ancient and Singular Number - Vi Hart
Everybody's always talking about all the properties of pi, the Golden Ratio and even e, Euler's number, but what about wau? If you haven't heard of wau, Vi Hart does an amazing job explaining all of its properties. Watch to find out that you might know wau even more than you think you do!
Did you catch it? See if you can find out another number wau actually is!
Also, if you haven't seen the Golden Ratio or Euler's number yet either, just search them up on Numberphile and there are some amazing videos for those too!
7. The Josephus Problem - Numberphile
Numberphile is the largest, most prolific math channel on YouTube with over 500 videos and 3 million subscribers to date, and they put out so much incredible content, all explained by famous mathematicians worldwide for their large audience. It was so hard to choose just the two videos I've put in the top eight here, but here's my other favorite Numberphile video: The Josephus Problem! Warning: The premise is very violent but the math is quite good! I'll just leave it at that. :)
8. The 10,000 Domino Computer - standupmaths
I'll end with another one of Matt Parker's videos. This is the domino computer! Matt Parker and his team spent 36 hours putting together dominos in a massive system capable of adding numbers, modeling how our computers work at the very microscopic level. The result is awe-inspiring and revealing, and I love how an entire community came together to build it.
It was just too hard to choose, so here are some honorable mentions for my favorite math videos! I'm simply going to list the titles below, and if you're inspired to explore even more, go for it! I'll leave out the explanations because who knows, I might write another of these articles, and I might just pull from this list to show you some other videos worth talking about. For now, consider this a preview for the future!
The Brick Double-Domino Effect Explained
How to build a Hexastix in 72 easy steps
Sneaky Topology: The Borsuk-Ulam Theorem and stolen necklaces (This one's so good it probably should be in the top 8!)
What it feels like to invent math
Pi hiding in prime regularities
Euler's formula with introductory group theory
Doodling in Math Class: Dragons
e to the i pi for dummies (very heavy on background knowledge but amazing)
Beautiful Card Trick
The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake
The Stable Marriage Problem
The Four 4s
The Mandelbrot Set
Winning at Rock Paper Scissors
Thank you for reading and watching along with me, and I hope this article inspired you to adventure into the wonderful world of math videos! If you want to check out even more channels, I have 12 of my favorite YouTubers in the resources section, so go for it! Have a great week everybody!
Cover images courtesy of Numberphile, 3Blue1Brown and standupmaths