Did you know that …

… Alessandro and Francesco Binomi are the names of two fictional brothers who supposedly “invented” the binomial formulae? Similarly, Julius Eigen is the name given to the fictional discoverer of eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and eigenfunctions.4

… “Math is like ice cream, with more flavors than you can imagine – and if all your children ever do is textbook math, that’s like feeding them broccoli-flavored ice cream.” ~ Denise Gaskins

… that French mathematician Blaise Pascal ‘proved’ that it was better to believe in God with a dubious argument known as ‘Pascal’s Wager’, thereby contributing to probability and decision theory?

… fields are often denoted by K or k, as they were first proposed by the German mathematician Richard Dedekind in 1871 who called them ‘Körper’, German for ‘body’? The word ‘field’ was only introduced around 1893.2,3

… 4 bits form a nibble? In other words, half a byte is a nibble.


… that the limit of the curve on the left is called “the flowsnake”?


… that George Cantor used several pseudonyms in his lifetime, including Vincent Regnäs and Martin Gänser? Regnäs and Gänser are anagrams of “Sänger”, the German word for singer. Note that “cantor” means singer in Latin.1

… despite stemming from the name Niels Henrik Abel, the adjective abelian (e.g. abelian groups) is hardly ever capitalized?

1C. Tapp, Kardinalität und Kardinäle: Wissenschaftshistorische Aufarbeitung der Korrespondenz zwischen Georg Cantor und katholischen Theologen seiner Zeit, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2005. (pp.125-127)

2Dirichlet, Peter Gustav Lejeune, Vorlesungen über Zahlentheorie von P. G. Lejeune Dirichlet, 2nd ed., volume 1, Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn, Braunschweig, 1871. (p.424)

3Moore, E. Hastings, A doubly-infinite system of simple groups, Bulletin of the New York Mathematical Society 3 (3), 1893. (pp.73–78)

4Zankl, Heinrich: Irrwitziges aus der Wissenschaft, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2008.