(Disclaimer: This math story is not essential to any legislative or policy discussion, nor do we make any claims as to its value in helping with your CSBG Data report. However, it may provide some insight into the workings to the Acting Director of Research’s brain).
The Chair’s article this month reminded me of a math symposium I did in college, about a seemingly simple yet complex equation (y=1/x). Graphically it’s referred to as Gabriel’s horn, since when rotated about the x-axis it forms a long skinny (infinitely long, actually) trumpet. In order to analyze it more easily, it can be
modified into what’s called Gabriel’s wedding cake, as a stack of concentric cylinders of decreasing diameter centered along the x-axis (like a sideways wedding cake). In this form, it is easier to make the calculations to show that the figure has finite volume but infinite surface area. Thus, the title of my presentation was “You Can Eat it, But you Can’t Frost it!” If you are into this kind of thing, here’s a link with a graphic of the horn in the middle of page 1, and the cake at the top
of page 3: http://goo.gl/YokRK. Of course, I made a cake (just a plain chocolate sheet cake) for the event to get some extra points.
by Tabitha Beck