Gems in STEM: An Intro to Spherical Geometry

While at first glance this question doesn’t seem so difficult, it’s a little harder than it looks! Unfortunately, we can’t…


Gems in STEM: Introduction to Public-Key Cryptography

Spy Kids (2001) Poster

Anyways, a lot of the trouble in spy movies seems to lie within the inability…


Gems in STEM: Quick Intro to Cryptography

Taylor Swift at the Brit Awards 2021

So far, the messages (at least the…


Gems in STEM: The Liar’s Paradox and Fuzzy Logic

“Hey Jiminy, Jiminy–how do I get out of here?”

Jiminy Cricket studies me, then ominously hands me a paper, a pencil…


Gems in STEM: Tessellations

“Wow, did you see that Vogue featured Harry’s Tiles?” I thought Vogue was about fashion, not interior design?

“I’m such a big fan of Harry’s Tiles music!” So like, clinks? I don’t get the appeal.

“I think I’m in love with Harry’s Tiles…” Wow, they must be really beautiful!

Naturally, I wanted to figure out what all the hype was about. I…


Gems in STEM: The History of the Abacus

To clarify, today we’re talking about the rich history of the abacus (and not my endeavors with sand on beaches, though there seems to be some strange overlap)!

I think the beginning purpose of the abacus is beautifully summarized by…


Gems in STEM: A Discussion of Fractals

The Mandelbrot set

The Mandelbrot Set (image taken from Wikipedia)

On March 1st, 1980, in the IBM research center of Yorktown Heights, NY, mathematician Benoit (B.) Mandelbrot caught the first glimpse of what would later be known as the Mandelbrot set, a celebrity in the gorgeous world of fractals. If I had seen it, I might’ve…


Gems in STEM: A Discussion of Partitions

In particular, a breakdown of numbers! Today we’ll be talking about partitions of numbers. At first glance, they’re a fairly simple concept: a partition of a positive number n is a way to break it up into a sum of positive integers. For example, the partitions of 5 are 1+1+1+1+1, 2+1+1+1, 2+2+1, 3+1+1, 3+2, 4+1, and 5, for a total of 7 partitions. Note that 5 still counts as a partition of 5. …


Hi everyone! Quick recap: this bi-weekly column, Gems in STEM, is a place to learn about various STEM topics that I find exciting, and that I hope will excite you too. Future columns may include social issues in STEM, its intersections with other subjects, and various other topics that are prominent in these fields.

Note: this is a transcript of my talk at the Youth STEM Summit 2020, edited for clarity. Also included are images from the presentation, icons by Flaticon.

When I was in third grade at my very first math competition, a random boy asked me, “What’re you…


Gems in STEM: The History of Zero

Okay, okay, today we’ll be briefly discussing the fascinating history of the number zero. Now, using the term “number” is a little presumptuous, because it first came into play as a placeholder.

In particular, the first known appearance of this idea of zero was in Mesopotamia, around 5,000 years ago. The Sumerians used a counting system for practicality — to count their goods and to keep track of things like wild horses and cattle. In writing, scribes used spaces to denote the absence of a number in a place (hence the…

Apoorva Panidapu

16 year-old mathematics student, artist, and advocate for youth and gender minorities in STEAM. Winner of 2021 Steven H. Strogatz Prize for Math Communication.

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