Tadashi Tokieda loves to share his toys: in this case, objects you can make in a matter of minutes at home, which illustrate principles of mathematics. Dr. Tokieda has partnered with journalist and filmmaker Brady Haran, creator of MSRI's sponsored Numberphile YouTube channel, to demonstrate these tricky objects.
"When I show those toys and share these surprises with people, often they say 'Oh, it's wonderful, because you take difficult science and simplify it!' That's well meant, of course, but that's exactly what I'm trying not to do. All the things that you're seeing here are surprising for scientists and children alike. All you have to do is look at nature with some imagination and perseverance and you can identify -- sometimes, if you're lucky -- pockets of mystery. These toys come from those pockets of mystery that surprise all of us equally."- Dr. Tadashi Tokieda
You might also enjoy hearing more about the math and physics behind some of Dr. Tokieda's toys. You can learn more about Dr. Tokieda himself in this article from the Harvard Gazette. As of Fall 2017 he is a professor of mathematics at Stanford; previously he had been a director of studies in mathematics at Cambridge for 13 years. Most of his research is in applied mathematics and macroscopic physics, including experiments.
Brady Haran (creator of Numberphile) and Tadashi Tokieda filming in MSRI's library, February 2016
Numberphile: Tadashi's Toys
These videos feature math toys that you can create easily at home using simple materials.
- Strange Spinning Tubes (February 2016)
- Strange Spinning Tubes - Extra Footage (February 2016)
- Perplexing Paperclips (April 2016)
- Subtracting Paperclips (May 2016)
- Catching Kendama (May 2016)
- Borromean Ribbons (May 2016)
- A Strange Change of Rotation (August 2016)
- The Secret of Floppy Paper (August 2016)
- Coffee Cup Vibrations (September 2016)
- The Most Powerful Dice (September 2016)
- Lace Knot Trick (October 2016)
- Balancing a Ruler (January 2017)
- Binder Clip Climber (February 2017)
- Stable Rollers (March 2017)
- Reflected Cats (April 2017)
- The Trinity Hall Prime (September 2017)
- An Unexpected Way to Inflate a Balloon (November 2017)
- Round Peg in a Square Hole (March 2018)
- Floating Balls and Lift (June 2018)
You can find more videos where Dr. Tokieda shows off his favorite math puzzles and tricks:
- Unexpected Shapes (Part 1): Tadashi Tokieda cuts various combinations of loops and Mobius loops - with surprising results.
- Unexpected Shapes (Part 2): Dr. Tokieda continues to cut loops and Mobius strips...
- Unexpected Shapes: Extra Footage
- Cute Paper Trick: A little extra trick based on some of the Mobius cutting videos above.
- Freaky Dot Patterns: Learning about Moiré Patterns with Dr. Tokieda.
Numberphile: Tadashi Tokieda Playlist
Videos by Zala Films
MSRI has also produced an earlier series of videos with Zala Films, featuring more demonstrations and discussion of Tadashi's personal collection of math-based toys.
- What on earth is going on?: An introduction to Dr. Tokieda's reasons to love discovering these math toys and mysteries.
- Columbus's Egg: How can you get an egg to stand up on its own without cheating?
- Two Spinning Turtles: Learn about the math behind spinning toys.
- Seal and the Chiral Beach Ball: How can you position magnets inside toys to achieve this spinning ball trick?
- Cedar Balls: Why do balls inside a bowl spin differently under various conditions?
- Interchanging Loops: Test these tricks that link loops of paper or ribbon together in interesting ways.
- Chain Falling from Cup: Let's take a closer look at how this chain reacts to being spilled from inside of a cup.
Featured video: Cedar balls from Zala Films on Vimeo