Tonight: Fun-with-math workshop in Portola Valley

For some, the word "mathematics" brings to mind concepts such as beauty and truth, order and predictability. How about magical, mystical and transcendental?

Those last three words were chosen for a press release by George Comstock and Paul Heiple, two Portola Valley residents who in February will present the second of three workshops on three fundamental concepts of math. The January workshop on pi -- a numerical constant essential for determining the circumference of a circle -- included a discussion on how one might determine the circumference of the universe.

At 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Historic Schoolhouse, the workshop will focus on e, a constant number like pi and discovered in the 16th century during a study of compound interest.

Then on the evening of March 28, the focus will be on i, an imaginary number expressed as the square root of -1. The March workshop will include the revealing of "an astonishing" relationship among these three concepts, Mr. Comstock said.

The town's Nature & Science Committee is sponsoring the workshops in hopes of sparking the curiosity of students in the seventh grade and beyond, and adults "intrigued by lesser known, but not highly technical, aspects of numbers." Hand-held calculators and scratch pads are recommended.

Go to this link for more information or write to Mr. Comstock at

Dave Boyce


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