Category Archives: Columns


Archi-Skate Two

Above collage and model by architect Diane Lewis found in her 2007 book Inside-out: Architecture New York City published by Charta Books. The image on the left has been altered by the author.  

By Austin Richard Mayer (Arch ‘18)

As a preface, I want to note the hyperactivity of the oversized urban characters of Astor place. Specifically, the boxing of Peter Cooper, the disappearance and reappearance of The Cube, the inflation of the Koons’ ballon dog, the running of Haring’s green man, the spinning blue wall of bikes and the resurrection of Hejduk’s Suicide Houses. As interior and exterior, Astor Place is an urban theater operating on a few scales: We find ourselves at a possible intermission of an urban drama written centuries ago.

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Buy High, Sell Low: Fast Fourier Transforms in Options

By Padraic McAtee (ME ‘19)

Some of you engineering types should have learned about Fourier transforms. Some of you might even know that they can be done quickly in what are called fast Fourier Transforms (FFT). But I bet you didn’t know how FFTs are used everyday in finance to find the value of an option. We will keep the math to a minimum for the purposes of this article.

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Photo by Wentao Zhang (ChE '19)

Oli’s Sweet Mess: Boba Guys

Photo by Wentao Zhang (ChE ’19)

By Olivia Heuiyoung Park (ME ‘19)

Chewy, round black balls with hot or cold drinks. Thick Straws. Boba was first invented in the 80s in a restaurant called “chun- shuiˇ tangˊ” in Taiwan. Coming from the west coast, the word “boba” is more familiar and correct to me than “bubble” tea or even “pearl” milk tea. My Taiwanese friends tell me, however, that all three names are perfectly acceptable. “Pearl” milk tea is the literal meaning of “bubble” tea, “bubble” tea has pretty old usage, and “boba” is a slang that translates to “big boobs” because the drink was advertised by an actress in Hong Kong with large breasts.

Most of the shops here in NYC called these drinks with the drink name + “tapioca” which I wasn’t really used to ordering because I always ordered “boba.” That’s when I heard about “Boba Guys,” a San Francisco based local shop founded by two friends, coming to East Village. I knew there was one in Clinton Street, but it was too far and I never really had the chance to go after visiting their second pop-up at Tea People at the Lower Manhattan HQ (LMHQ) back in October 2015. I instantly fell in love with Boba Guys then despite their limited menu of 3 drinks, as their tapioca was chewy and their drinks were just perfect. Every time I went and ordered a drink with tapioca in one of the abundant shops near Cooper, I craved and missed Boba Guys’ perfect drink.

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Miles of Movies: Life

By Miles Barber (CE ‘18)

Life is about a group of scientists at the International Space Station (ISS) who discover cellular life from soil samples on Mars. This lifeform is studied and nurtured aboard the ISS, growing rapidly. But when one of the scientists shocks it in an attempt to revive it after an accident, it attacks. The rest of the film is about how the remaining scientists try to contain this creature and ultimately try to survive.

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Photo by John Tronolone (EE '19)

Museum Review: The Italian-American Museum

By Gabriela Godlewski (CE ‘19)

Little Italy, a small neighborhood in lower Manhattan, is full of the Italian American community’s rich history of living in New York City. A big part of this history stems from the waves of Italian immigrants who came to America in the 20th century, bringing their culture and traditions with them. Related memorabilia that show the Italian American culture throughout the 20th century are celebrated in the cozy Italian American Museum, located on the corner of Mulberry and Grand, a short and scenic walk from the Cooper Union.

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A Trip to MoMath

By: Gabriela Godlewski (CE ‘19)

The National Museum of Math is open everyday, except for Thanksgiving, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Below: the front doors to the museum. Photos by Gabriela Godlewski (CE ‘19).
The National Museum of Math is open everyday, except for Thanksgiving, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Below: the front doors to the museum. Photos by Gabriela Godlewski (CE ‘19).



A trip to any museum is always a fun time. In most museums, the fun comes from the peace of exploring exhibits and learning about different forms of art or past events from an objective stance. Then there are the museums that require you to delve directly into the exhibits, learning and exploring exhibits through interaction, a category in which The National Museum of Math falls into. Located in the Flatiron District in Manhattan, The National Museum of Math, popularly known as MoMath, consists of two floors demonstrating many different mathematical concepts in fun and creative exhibits dedicated to teaching math through immersion.

The opening of MoMath was in response to the closing of the Goudreau Museum of Mathematics in Science and Art. It was the only museum dedicated to math in the United States of America. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, the Gourdreau Museum closed in 2006. A group of interested parties (the “Working Group”) met in August 2008 to explore the creation of a new museum of mathematics — one that would go well beyond the Goudreau in both its scope and methodology. The group quickly discovered that there was no museum of mathematics in the United States, and yet there was incredible demand for hands-on math programming. The group, led by Glen Whitney, began work to create a new math museum, and MoMath, the National Museum of Mathematics, opened its doors in 2012. Since then, the museum has been entertaining and educating people of all ages in complicated mathematical concepts, including, but not limited to, curvature, cross-sections, and the Mobius strip.

As an engineering student trained in calculus and physics, the MoMath appealed to me in that it was said to show exhibits that demonstrated many familiar mathematical and physical concepts. Tired of the 2D, non-immersive illustrations in Thomas Calculus, 12th Edition, I decided to pay the museum a visit and see the exhibits for myself. I was hooked from the moment I opened the pi-handled doors. Inside was a colorful playground of exhibits that drew me in immediately. In the very center of the first floor was a racecar track in the shape of a Mobius strip, demonstrating how a seemingly two-sided surface is actually one whole surface.

Next to the racecar track was another exhibit where you could ride two tricycles with square wheels on a track made up of catenary curves. Sound impossible? The tricycles were specially built so that one side of the square wheel was equivalent in length to the arc of the catenary curve it was riding over, showing the creativity and endless possibilities of math. These were only two exhibits out of many, with each exhibit demonstrating a new, formerly difficult concept in a simple and creative way.

My personal favorite was a sculpture made up of colorful spheres connected to each other. If you touched a sphere, it glowed and played a note or a chord, harmonizing with any nearby spheres you touched after. The math and robotics in these cool and immersive exhibits was as impressive as the simple physical demonstrations of everything Professor Vulakh taught me before.

Overall, my trip to the MoMath was very enjoyable. I liked seeing the museum I’ve heard so much about firsthand. It was also fascinating to see how much thought and creativity was put into each exhibit in order for all of them to flawlessly demonstrate a different mathematical concept as simply and as pleasantly as possible. However, despite the fact that I was enjoying myself and that I was surrounded by people of all ages, the exhibitions were designed more for children. Although I did have fun, such a museum would be made more enjoyable accompanied by friends who like both math and fun. I recommend this museum as the perfect study break with friends. It’s a nice walk or short train ride away, and you’re not wasting time there as you’re simultaneously learning and having fun.◊

Corrections (March 12, 2017): There were some inaccuracies about the history of MoMath, which have been amended. Also, the tricycles do not ride on cylinders; they ride on catenary curves.

Miles of Movies: Logan

By: Miles Barber (CE ‘18)

In a world of uplifting, happy-ending, fast-paced superhero films, Logan takes a different approach. It presents its titular character as a dark, depressed man who’s lived for two hundred years, watching other mutants like him rise and fall, and watching people he’s cared for get killed because of him. To Logan, the world is a painful place, and there isn’t much to make him care about living. Charles Xavier is one of the few people he takes care of—until he meets Laura, a young Hispanic girl that he must take to the Canadian border.

This film is half road-trip, half bloody action. There are no bright colors or super heroes. The opening ten to twenty minutes set the tone perfectly: heartbreaking, realistic and believable. They also provide some backstory about Laura and make the main characters feel authentic.

The special effects, sound design, and cinematography are all great in this film. Hugh Jackman plays Logan well and has for the past seventeen years. Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, isn’t given a whole lot to do until the last act of the film, but really brings it then. As far as I know, she’s never been in a film before, so I’m interested to see where she goes from here.

Logan’s character arc develops strongly in the first two acts of this film (introduction and road-trip), but it does not play out well in the third act. As a “road trip” movie, you might expect this film to be formulaic. And it is but not in a way that I particularly like.

For a dark movie like this to work, you need the main character to be either likable, relatable, or sympathetic. After all that Logan has been through in the previous X-Men films, he should at least be sympathetic. But in the third act, he isn’t. He just goes back to being a stubborn, cranky guy who doesn’t want to do anything or help anyone. And that took me out of the movie.

Overall, Logan is a new tone for a superhero film. It features a different world for mutants without hope or purpose. The first two acts are strong in setting up the tone, characters, and story. There are some truly heartbreaking moments here, but the third act made Logan unlikable again—which was disappointing. I would still recommend this film, but just know that it is a bloody mess and isn’t terribly uplifting or fun like a typical superhero film. ◊

Grade: B+