Mathematical Instruments: ACME Science

September 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

Mathematical Instruments.

Mathematical Instruments

via Wikimedia Commons

This post is part of the series Mathematical Instruments in which we introduce you to a math blogger. Today:

ACME Science (and more), Samuel Hansen

What’s your blog’s name? Any other places we can find you on (Twitter, Google+, Facebook etc)?

I am the producer of the new mathematical story podcast Relatively Prime, one of the people behind the expository mathematics blog Second-Rate Minds, and the sole proprietor of the podcast empire known as You can also find me on twitter under the names @Samuel_Hansen and @acmescience, and if you are industrious you could add me to a G+ circle, being warned that I have not posted to it in months and have no plans on posting to it again anytime soon.

Would you tell us a little bit more about yourself?  E.g., Where are you coming from (both geographically and philosophically)? What is your background?  Any scientific education?

I am a good midwestern boy. I was born in the same house that I currently base myself out of, and that house if a good 10 miles outside of the nearest 2 horse town. I spent a lot of my early life starved for media, and people, that would hold my interest and then, as if by divine intervention, came the internet. Without the internet, well I do not want to think of where I would be without the internet. As soon as I could I left my birthplace and got myself a couple of degrees in mathematics, while at the same time realizing that the mathematical establishment was not a place I would function well. So I took my love of radio and podcasts and combined it with mathematics, and 6 podcasts later here I am. I am a huge proponent of wider scientific communication, in fact I believe that scientists have an obligation to talk about their work to anyone who happens to want to listen. Finally, I support copy-left and release all of my content under creative commons licenses so that everyone can remix and reuse.

When and how did you first discover mathematical blogs?

Google, how else?

When did you start blogging?

When I was first applying to graduate schools I went looking for mathematical podcasts, and the fields were depressing bare. Once I got to graduate school I decided that I would do everything that I could to fix that problem and started a chatty, and rather vulgar, panel show called Combinations and Permutations. Soon, I found that was not enough and started interviewing people with mathematical jobs and called that show Strongly Connected Components. That led to the Math/Maths podcast and Second-Rate Minds and an audience big enough to fund my Relatively Prime Kickstarter and Science Sparring Society and now this questionnaire that I am answering.

Why did you start?

I wanted to make something so that the next person who went looking like I had would have something to find.

What do you write about?

Most of my content is in audio form which covers everything from discursive pop-culture filled conversations about some mathematical topic to interviews with researchers, communicators, and movie directors to fights from the history of science. When I do write I tend to prefer narrative, be that in the form of a fictional future or the moment that I decided mathematics was right for me (that is a soon to be released post actually).

What wouldn’t have happened to you without the internet?

My life.

What does the internet need more of?

Everything. Really, this is an ecosystem that has more content than I could ever hope to consume and still there are things that I can not find.

Mathematicians on the web have…

made the subject simultaneously less and more frightening. The community that has been created by mathematicians on the internet is amazing, things like Polymath and MathOverflow are awe inspiring, but there is so much more that can and should be done. So, let’s go do it.

Your daily web reading (mathematical or otherwise):

I follow at most 150 people on my personal twitter account, and I read every single thing that they post. I also follow a lot more people with my acmescience twitter account that I skim every couple of hours. That is where I get almost all of my mathematical content.

I also subscribe, via rss, to 70 or 80 blogs, boingboing, polis, bldgblog, io9Brain PickingsGowers’s Weblog, etc, from which I read at least all the headlines. I am also an active tumblr user, where I follow around 100 different people and post one cool thing I found on the internet everyday.

Finally, I am subscribed to around 40 podcasts that I stay mostly on top of, I am currently caught up with all of the weekly release episodes and am working through the back catalog of a History of the Earth in 100 Objects, that range from comedy, Stop Podcasting Yourself, The Best Show on WFMU, and You Look Nice Today, to news, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, On the Media, and Slate’s Political Gabfest, to sheer awesome, RadioLab, 99% Invisible, and The Memory Palace.

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