smichalakis

About spiros

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So far spiros has created 26 blog entries.

De divina proportione

As a mathematician, I often wonder if life would have been easier were I born 2,400 years ago. Back then, all you had to do to become eternally famous was to show that $latex 3^2+4^2=5^2$ ( I am looking at you Πυθαγόρα!) OK, maybe I am not giving the Ancients enough credit. I mean, they [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:55-08:00March 2nd, 2013|Reflections, The expert's corner|25 Comments

Unsolvable

Why go swimming, if you can do math instead inside a room with no windows? Back in 1997, during my visit to beautiful Mar del Plata in Argentina, I was asked to solve a math problem that I soon realized was close to being unsolvable. The setting was the Banquet for the 38th [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:56-08:00January 23rd, 2013|Real science, The expert's corner|26 Comments

One, two, three, four, five…

As this year comes to a close, people around the world will be counting down the last few seconds of 2012. But, how come we never count up the first few seconds of the new year? What is it about the last few seconds of the year that makes them so special? Maybe it has [...]

2017-01-13T10:05:57-08:00December 27th, 2012|The expert's corner|9 Comments

Fermat’s Lost Theorem

Pierre Fermat, known for his Last Theorem and for rarely proving any of his claims. Last week, I posted a series of increasingly difficult challenges in the post One line proof. Today, I would like to spend some time with the second challenge: Fermat’s Lost Theorem: Show that $latex (x+y)^n [...]

2017-01-13T10:06:02-08:00October 25th, 2012|The expert's corner|8 Comments

One line proof

It is not often that we come across a problem whose solution can fit in the margins of a notebook. In fact, many of the problems I have worked on in the field of quantum many-body physics require proofs that often exceed 30 pages. And that is without taking into account the several references included [...]

2017-01-13T10:06:02-08:00October 19th, 2012|The expert's corner|19 Comments

No calculators allowed

During Friday evenings at Caltech, the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter runs a seminar series focusing on research talks geared towards a diverse audience whose common background is quantum mechanics (just that, nothing else…) But, the fun doesn’t end after the 45 minute talks are over. The seminar is followed by a mingling session [...]

2017-01-13T10:06:02-08:00October 7th, 2012|The expert's corner|33 Comments

Redemption: Part II

Last week, a journey began to find the solution to a problem I could not solve as a seventeen year-old boy. That problem became an obsession of mine during the last days of the International Math Olympiad of 1997, the days when I also met the first girl I ever kissed. At the time, I [...]

2017-01-13T10:06:02-08:00October 2nd, 2012|Reflections, The expert's corner|5 Comments

Redemption: Part I

Back in my last post, I closed with a problem (The Redeemer) from the International Math Olympiad of 1997. Unlike the problem I posted from 1981 (Elementary, my dear Watson), I was actually walking by the time I met The Redeemer. In fact, I was in Mar del Plata, a beautiful seaside beach resort in [...]

2017-01-13T10:06:03-08:00September 27th, 2012|The expert's corner|2 Comments

A promise

During my recent trip back home, I had a chance to talk with friends and family over dinner about the future of Greece. I heard about tales of political corruption and wasted opportunities within Greece, but I noticed also a growing resentment towards the rest of the world, who was mocking us, at best, and [...]

2017-01-13T10:06:03-08:00September 13th, 2012|Real science, The expert's corner|6 Comments

Elementary, my dear Watson

On last week’s “Welcome to the math olympics”, I closed with a problem from the International Math Olympiad of 1981 (a bad year for wine – I would know, I was an avid drinker back then). I would like to take some time to present a solution to this problem, because this is where all [...]

2017-01-13T10:06:03-08:00September 11th, 2012|Real science, The expert's corner|15 Comments