The Odds of Life’s Oddities, with Mathematician John Allen Paulos

March 21, 2016

Host: Lindsay Beyerstein

John Allen Paulos is an award winning mathematician and best selling author. A professor in mathematics at Temple University, he has written for The Guardian, CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and his monthly column for, “Who’s Counting?” His new book is called A Numerate Life: A Mathematician Explores the Vagaries of Life, His Own and Probably Yours.

Paulos uses basic mathematic principles to lend a fresh perspective to everyday life, and the results can be fascinating. He sheds light on everything from the mathematical science behind romantic crushes to the astronomical consequences of the butterfly effect. Some of the harsher mathematical realities can be troubling, like the inevitable probability of becoming more jaded as we age. But Paulos’s mathematical message also has plenty to take solace in, like knowing that dimensional geography suggests that every single one of us is far more peculiar than we may be willing to admit. That’s right, you are not the only weirdo you know; in reality we’re all a bunch of weirdos.