Making Math And Microscopes More Accessible

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The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.

This week, Watson tells guest host Tess Vigeland about Cedric Villani, a successful mathematician with a stylish flair that's given him the moniker "The Lady Gaga of Mathematics." Though he's made big discoveries and earned a prestigious Fields Medal, he's on a mission to make math more accessible.

They also discuss a scientist who is developing light-weight, 50-cent microscopes with hopes to open the door for better testing and science education in developing countries.

The New And The Next

  • The Lady Gaga Of Mathematics

    Cedric Villani, mathematician. i
    Cedric Villani, mathematician.

    "His name is Cedric Villani. ... He dresses like a 19th-century aristocrat — wild, colorful, plume-y shirts and other sorts of things.

    "But he's an incredible mathematician. In fact, he won the highest prize in math, called the Fields Medal, which some people say is like the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for math. But [he] gave it all up a couple years ago and said, 'I want to spend my life popularizing math.' "

    Read 'Going Gaga For Math' On

  • Bringing Microscopes To The Masses

    Manu Prakash holds up the 50 cent foldoscope. i
    Manu Prakash holds up the 50 cent foldoscope.

    Stanford professor Manu Prakash realized a big barrier to diagnosing infectious diseases in the developing world "is often access to a really good microscope. But a really good microscope often costs $200, it's bulky, it doesn't work in remote villages.

    "So, he came up with a 50-cent microscope called a foldoscope. ... It looks like a colored piece of cardboard that ultimately folds into something as thin as kind of a big bookmark. And he's tested it in a variety of different countries and continents and even tested its durability by literally stomping on it and throwing it out of a third-story window."

    Read 'Fold Your Own 50-Cent Paper Microscope' On



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