Today I discovered a lovely little result. If you list the vertices of a non-self-intersecting polygon in counterclockwise order, then the area of the polygon is where vertical bars denote the determinant. The first thing I thought when I saw this equation was that I could use the nth roots of unity to get the … Read More

A remedial course in baseball groundskeeping

After every baseball game, the players are responsible for cleaning up the field. Especially rookies. I’m a rookie. We sweep out the dugouts. We rake the dirt along the base-paths. We remove the bases and cover the base posts. We cover the pitcher’s mound and home plate area with tarps. We are a grounds-keeping machine. … Read More

So, about the title…

A heptadecagon is a 17-sided polygon. Back in 1796, Gauss gave a proof of the constructibility by straight-edge and compass of a regular (all sides equal, all internal angles equal) heptadecagon. He liked the proof so much that he asked to have one carved onto his tombstone. According to the story, the engraver, telling Gauss … Read More