MAA Writing Awards
Year of Award: 2006
Award: George Polya
Publication Information: The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 36, (2005), pp. 114-122
Summary: This paper uses Archmedes’ Law of Floating Bodies to determine how far a ball sinks below the surface, and also examines an interesting wrinkle involving the chaotic behavior of Newton’s method applied to a cubic polynomial.
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About the Author: (from The College Mathematics Journal, (2005)) Ezra Brown grew up in New Orleans and has degrees from Rice and LSU. He arrived at Virginia Tech shortly after Hurricane Camille, and has been there ever since, with time out for sabbatical visits to Washington, DC (where he has spent his summers since 1993) and Munich. He has done research in number theory, discrete mathematics, and expository mathematics. He has received a teaching award and three writing awards from the MAA. The idea for this article came from his long-standing interest in calculus, the history of mathematics, and astronomy. The inspiration, however, came from the students mentioned in this story and from his granddaughter Phoebe Rose.