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Preview: The Math Factor

The Math Factor

A brief, weekly math conversation and puzzle, airing on KUAF 91.3 FM, Fayetteville Arkansas. Send your answers, comments, questions, puzzles, or cash, to!

Last Build Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 16:22:43 -0500

Copyright: Chaim Goodman-Strauss and KUAF FM

HR. CardColm

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 16:20:59 -0500

Colm Mulcahy joins us to share some of his card magic!

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HQ. Newton v Leibnitz

Mon, 26 Mar 2012 09:53:10 -0500

A break from puzzling to discuss the history of the great Newton-Liebnitz dispute over the invention of Calculus, with the playwright Todd Taylor.

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HN. Barbette

Mon, 27 Feb 2012 11:07:09 -0600

The great aerialist Barbette makes an wholly gratuitous appearance on the Math Factor, and a few quick puzzles.

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HM. Five Cards

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 10:04:11 -0600

Big math news, answers and a quick and easy puzzle.

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HL. Bear Hunt

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 13:19:01 -0600

Kyle stumps Chaim, and we revisit a neat twist on an old chestnut

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Hi! Getting Closer

Mon, 16 Jan 2012 14:16:31 -0600

How close can we get to exactly one glass of water?

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HG. Two Love

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 11:59:57 -0600

Numbers, numbers numbers... hadn't noticed there are so many of them.

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HF. True Love

Fri, 23 Dec 2011 15:23:09 -0600

In which Chaim ponders how much his true love loves him truly.

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HE. On Cake and Coffee

Mon, 12 Dec 2011 10:51:55 -0600

In which we discuss the mystery of cooling coffee.

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HD. The Math Factor Returns

Sun, 04 Dec 2011 10:34:39 -0600

And we're back in the studio together again! Lots of great stuff to come!

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HB. Puzzlers Pegg and Stephens

Sat, 09 Apr 2011 13:50:42 -0500

Back with an interview with two fantastic puzzlers, Ed Pegg ( and James Stephens ( Check out for lots of links to the puzzles and people they talk about.

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The Math Factor Takes a Bow

Sun, 09 May 2010 14:10:39 -0500

We are taking the summer off (at a minimum) but check back in a while for new segments. And don't forget to drop us a line!

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GY. Conversation with Greg Chaitin

Mon, 05 Apr 2010 09:48:43 -0500

A conversation with Greg Chaitin, creator of Chaitin's Omega and author, most recently, of MetaMath!! These ideas are well worth a close listen.

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GW. Wolfram's Principle of Computational Equivalence

Tue, 30 Mar 2010 09:35:59 -0500

Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica and author of A New Kind of Science describes a fundamental principle, showing how irreducible complexity arises even in simple systems.

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G4G9 Report From the Gathering

Sun, 28 Mar 2010 10:54:54 -0500

Quick interviews at the Gathering, with Stephen Wolfram, Will Shortz, Dale Seymore, John Conway and many others!

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GV. Three Quick G4G9 Puzzles From Ed Pegg

Thu, 25 Mar 2010 12:08:38 -0500

We catch up with Ed Pegg, of who gives us three great puzzles! Now Tweeting from G4G9!

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GW. Math Factor Hits The Road

Mon, 22 Mar 2010 17:59:09 -0500

The Math Factor hits the road, with live updates from the Gathering For Gardner! And the premier of James Greeson's Canon and Chorale on Pi.

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GU. Number Freak

Sun, 07 Mar 2010 10:18:30 -0600

Derrick Niederman tells us what is so un-22 about Catch 22, and other marvels from his new book, Number Freak.

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GT. The Largest Escher Exhibit Ever

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 11:32:00 -0600

The largest Escher exhibit ever is on display in Boca Raton. A must see event!

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GS. I Met A Man

Sat, 20 Feb 2010 12:59:05 -0600

In which we discuss the yillion and a strange encounter with an aged man.

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GR. VIth Anniversary of the Math Factor!

Thu, 11 Feb 2010 11:56:05 -0600

That's right, we return with our sixth anniversary "special". Can a clip show be far behind?

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GP. Switcheroo!

Sat, 26 Dec 2009 09:51:57 -0600

A plan for the shop, and still more tormented prisoners. What is the deal with those poor souls anyway?

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GO. Coin Fraud!

Thu, 17 Dec 2009 14:12:00 -0600

Yay! Another Fraud Detection Prevention tip from your friends and accomplices at the Math Factor, as well as further discourse on Benford's Law.

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GN. Benford's Law

Thu, 03 Dec 2009 12:02:18 -0600

If you're gonna commit accounting fraud, some things to watch out for! Benford's law is an amazing property of many kinds of lists of data.

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GM. What's the Big Deal Anyway?

Wed, 25 Nov 2009 10:58:15 -0600

Wherein Chaim lets off a little steam about an urgent problem...

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GL. Math 2033

Thu, 19 Nov 2009 16:43:18 -0600

Chaim's new Math 2033 is going like gangbusters! Check out the class wiki at

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GK. Mythematics

Thu, 12 Nov 2009 18:36:38 -0600

Michael Huber solves the 12 Labors of Hercules!

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GJ. Mathletics

Tue, 03 Nov 2009 12:52:07 -0600

Wayne Winston discusses his sports-math book, Mathletics!

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GI. Mrs. Perkins' Electric Quilt

Tue, 20 Oct 2009 18:09:45 -0500

Paul Nahin discusses his fabulous new book "Mrs Perkins Electric Quilt", mosquitos, falling through the Earth, whether mathematics is "real" and much more!

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GH. The Math Book

Fri, 09 Oct 2009 10:02:24 -0500

Clifford Pickover discusses his beautiful new Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics.

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Thu, 01 Oct 2009 16:41:10 -0500

Stephen Morris rounds out his puzzles with a discussion of OLD IDAHO USUAL HERE.

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GF. More Clock Crazies

Thu, 24 Sep 2009 15:40:24 -0500

Jetting around with Stephen Morris, who leaves us at a rare loss for words!

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GE. Clock Confusion

Thu, 17 Sep 2009 14:47:46 -0500

Stephen Morris, mathfactor correspondent at large, discusses the Kate Bush conjecture and how to get a dead clock to tell the right time many times throughout the day!

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GC. Another Buncha Prisoners

Tue, 28 Jul 2009 11:37:02 -0500

Man, what is it about puzzlers and prisoners? Jeff Yoak lines em up and the stakes are high!

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GB. Hat Strategy

Mon, 20 Jul 2009 14:58:28 -0500

#mathfactor now on twitter; Jeff Yoak poses a hat puzzle stumper!

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FZ. Will a Real Gold Coin Please Stand Up?

Mon, 06 Jul 2009 16:06:08 -0500

Jeff Yoak, one of the mathfactor website authors, shares a puzzle with an intriguing twist!

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FY. Weights in a Row

Thu, 02 Jul 2009 15:36:57 -0500

Every number in a mysterious sequence is the weighted average of its neighbors...

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FW. Walk Around the Clock

Fri, 19 Jun 2009 11:50:26 -0500

A quick puzzle sent in by a listener! Very elegant solution, using a fair coin...

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FV. Singmastery!

Fri, 12 Jun 2009 11:16:45 -0500

David Singmaster, Puzzler Extraordinaire, early master of the Rubik's Cube, poser of the Singmaster Conjecture, etc, etc, engages in some wordplay.

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FU. Arp and Bif Shake Hands

Mon, 25 May 2009 05:18:52 -0500

We express regret, answer a puzzle, shake hands and welcome back astronauts Arp and Bif.

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FT. Sum and Double & Double and Sum

Mon, 18 May 2009 09:34:54 -0500

A puzzle on sums of digits, and an interview with Rob Fathauer, of Tesselations Inc.

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FR. Who Wants To Be A Mathematician?

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 12:39:48 -0500

Kyle and Chaim return to the studio with an interview with Michael Breen, of the hit gameshow, "Who Wants To Be A Mathematician?" Lots of puzzles!

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FP. Carriage Return

Fri, 03 Apr 2009 05:09:17 -0500

A simple typesetting puzzle from Stephen Barr's Intriguing Puzzles in Math and Logic.

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FO. Eyebrow Hairs

Wed, 01 Apr 2009 16:49:37 -0500

Why do these hair seem to grow in fits and starts?

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FN. Three Square Napkins

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 04:34:33 -0500

Another Sam Loyd puzzle: what is the largest square table that can be covered by three 1 foot square napkins?

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FM. Bamboopalooza One

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 08:43:44 -0500

Our very first Bamboopalooza, in Wilson Park April 2004!

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FL. Algebra on the Radio

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 11:40:34 -0500

If I give you a number, can you always find another number whose sum and product with my number are the same?

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FK. Twiddling Screws

Tue, 17 Mar 2009 10:05:09 -0500

Having lost their thumbs, Arp and Bif twiddle screws instead investigating a simple, but counterintuitive bit of 3D geometry.

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FJ. Dr Loyd's Atomic Easter Eggs

Thu, 12 Mar 2009 17:40:58 -0500

For Easter Sunday, 2004, an old puzzle from the superb 19th century puzzler Sam Loyd.

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FI. Paranoia!

Mon, 09 Mar 2009 09:09:04 -0500

Paranoid scientists don't trust anyone! How many locks are needed to protect the vital contents of a safe?

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FH. Girdling The Earth

Fri, 06 Mar 2009 10:14:51 -0600

From March 28, 2004, a simple, surprising chestnut about girdling the earth.

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FF. Hostile Flowers

Mon, 02 Mar 2009 17:08:57 -0600

Recalling an early Star Trek episode, we save some space hippies from certain doom.

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FE. Burn the Rope

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 12:35:46 -0600

Edmund Harriss steps in and poses a puzzle on this early segment.

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FD. Space Walkers

Mon, 23 Feb 2009 08:35:24 -0600

Another segment from the Golden Age of Mathradio, Math Factor #5, aired February 22, 2004.

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FC. Cool Clear Water

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 17:11:52 -0600

Math Factor Number Four; how much water is required to get across the desert? (This is basically the same problem as BK. Bananas and Rockets)

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FB. The Legendary Monty Hall Problem

Mon, 16 Feb 2009 12:59:30 -0600

After all these years, we finally get around to putting the Monty Hall Problem up on the web-- it's deja vu all over again as we post the third math factor segment ever!

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EZ. A Special Double Feature

Mon, 02 Feb 2009 10:11:59 -0600

Our servers are back up, after an astounding ice storm that shut down the town; we celebrate with a special double feature: "Google, Flutes and Monopoly" and the very first Math Factor Episode ever aired.

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EY. Vth Anniversary Special

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 09:50:48 -0600

Our Fifth Anniversary Special! Come visit our brand new, totally fair casino!

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EX. Gamblers Ruin

Mon, 05 Jan 2009 16:23:23 -0600

Shortly after taping this segment, Kyle and Chaim suddenly hit on a great way to make huge amounts of money. We'll offer you a terrific opportunity you can't refuse in next week's segment!!

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ET. Your Holiday Gift Guide

Mon, 01 Dec 2008 16:46:10 -0600

Our favorite new and not-so-new products for 2008! Check out Zome, Puzzellations, DROD, Magic Mirror Coloring Book, The Riddles of the Sphinx, the Nikoli puzzle company, The Princeton Companion to Mathematics, How Round is your Circle and many more ideas!

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ES. The Ishango Bone

Tue, 11 Nov 2008 16:29:01 -0600

Dirk Huylebrouck discusses the incredible Ishango bone, and thousands of years of arithmetic.

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ER. The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search

Tue, 04 Nov 2008 12:20:07 -0600

Just two months ago, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, discovered a huge prime number, with more than ten million digits! Mersenne primes are closely related to the famous "perfect" numbers, numbers which are the sum of their divisors.

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EQ. Ed Pegg Returns

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 08:28:10 -0500

Ed Pegg, of, joins us to discuss cellular automata and a fiendishly difficult puzzle.

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Sun, 12 Oct 2008 11:41:15 -0500

Peter Winkler returns to discuss the bonus chapter in his book Mathematical Mind Benders!

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EO. Spaghetti Loops

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 16:05:09 -0500

Just why does the constant e appear in so many ways?

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EN. Plinko

Thu, 25 Sep 2008 13:53:08 -0500

We discuss some business and then consider the game of Plinko.

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EM. Awash In Billiard Balls

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 13:41:52 -0500

We discuss math on TV, the smallest ungoogleable number and a devilish game with billiard balls.

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EL. The Law of Small Numbers

Wed, 03 Sep 2008 18:12:05 -0500

In which we discuss the Fibonacci numbers, the law of small numbers, and just why one should expect to see the golden ratio so often.

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EH. The Worm Makes It!

Sat, 16 Aug 2008 13:02:21 -0500

The worm makes it, in only about 15,092,688,622,113,788,323,693,563,264,538,101,449,859,497 steps! (Give or take a few) This incredible fact depends on the mysterious Harmonic Series, discussed a little more on the Math Factor website

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EG. The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems

Tue, 12 Aug 2008 12:32:17 -0500

Dana Richards, editor of The Colossal Book of Short Problems and Puzzles, talks to us about Martin Gardner and his legacy.

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EF. Visions of Symmetry

Wed, 30 Jul 2008 07:22:51 -0500

Escher expert Doris Schattschneider sits down with us in Leeuwarden, Friesland, his boyhood home.

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EE. Tossem Beaver

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 16:36:31 -0500

Mathemagician Art Benjamin explains a few tricks of his trade!

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EC. Skyrocketing functions

Sun, 29 Jun 2008 08:52:01 -0500

Some functions just take off! Amazingly there are functions that cannot be bounded in by anything that can be computed!

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EB. Busy Beavers and Dumb Robots

Thu, 19 Jun 2008 20:03:49 -0500

We finally get around to discussing the Dumb Robots problem, the nature of computation, and baseball.

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DY. The Symmetries of Things

Wed, 21 May 2008 21:17:14 -0500

We shamelessly plug our beautiful new book, the Symmetries of Things, by John H. Conway, Heidi Burgiel and Chaim Goodman-Strauss.

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DX. Dumb Robots

Tue, 13 May 2008 10:20:57 -0500

In which we discuss the incredible Collatz function, and smashing dumb robots into each other.

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