The Japanese Super Mario School

As the BBC observed recently, sights and sounds of old-school video games have become an important part of popular music and culture. One beautiful example is the Japanese paper stop motion of Super Mario. This may be not the first time Super Mario comes to school but it is probably the most creative visit so far. The paper stop motion was produced within two weeks using sticky notes to reproduce the pixel graphics. Brilliant!

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724 Links To Mathematics Lessons And Activities

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics website is full of mathematics activities. It also provides a reviewed list of hundreds of links to websites that are not hosted by NCTM itself. An editorial board reviewed and classified the weblinks collection. The users navigate the collection through five categories reflecting the national standards in mathematics education: Numbers & Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis & Probability.

This is a great resource that curates the treasures of mathematics activities on the web.

Mathematics illuminated. (c) NCTM


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Tesla, Wi-Fi, and Electronic Music – Literally

A Tesla coil is a resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla at the end of the 19th century. It is used to produce high voltage, relatively high current, high frequency AC electricity. Some people make music out of it.

“What you hear is audio modulated thunder”, Joe DiPrima of Arcattack, a band from Austin, Texas, explains. During their shows Arcattack’s MC and stunt man Patric Brown walks and dances through half a million Volt sparks wearing a Faraday suit.

One of Tesla’s early stuntmen was Mark Twain. The writer and the engineer were close friends and spent much time together in Tesla’s laboratory. Obviously Mark Twain survived the experiments and wrote some great novels later on. High voltage AC electricity is less dangerous for human beings than DC electricity. One explanation is that under AC electricity the ions in the human body are rather oscillating within the cells than moving between them. It might hurt anyway; and remember: a real thunder is DC! So please don’t try this at home, unless you are a stuntman wearing a Faraday suit or a great writer looking for inspiration.

Mark Twain in Tesla's Lab (1894): Suddenly the lights came on.

Today the main use of Tesla coils is entertainment and educational displays. Neverless the underlying ideas on wireless communication seem visionary in the era of the internet. In 1915 Tesla declared that “wireless wonders” may solve some of the world’s greatest problems. With wireless communication “we might decrease the cost of the dissemination of useful information that every citizen of this country, resident no matter how remotely from the populated centres, could be kept continually in touch with the outer world occurences, weather prospects, and all that helpfull information which the Government already gathers, or might gather if it had at hand the means by which to make it public”, the New York Times reported on August 1, 1915. Let’s solve the problems, we have got the tools!

Wi-Fi 100 years ago: Tesla's tower on Long Island.
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Books + Internet = ?

With more and more books digitalized, with Kindles, iPads and audio-books, will printed books become an endangered species? Not if you turn the idea the other way round: How can printed books benefit from the internet and its networking features?

One idea is Ubimark Books that links paper books, such as “Around the World in 80 Days” to the web. This happens rather seemlessly through 2D code. Have a look:


Another brilliant idea is BookRenter. The service enables students to save money by loaning textbooks for a fixed duration, usually a semester. The system is simple: a student searches for a book on the website using a title or ISBN, and places an order by selecting a rental period and delivery option. The books are delivered complete with return UPS labels for easy shipping.

Rent, read, return. (c) www.bookrenter.com

The bookstores at the University of Texas at Austin, the North Carolina State University, the University of Memphis, the City College of San Francisco, and the University of San Diego already offer a textbook rental store on the BookRenter platform. Alternative book rental services are provided by Chegg and Barnes and Noble.

(Thx @techcrunch and @swissmiss)

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