Dr. Alissa S. Crans presented the invited talk, “Cracking the Cubic: Cardano, Controversy and Creasing,” at the 2014 Southeastern Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics at Clemson University on November 15, 2014.
Abstract: We are all familiar with the solution to a general quadratic equation-some of us even learn songs or mnemonics in school to help us remember the famous formula. But have you heard about analogous formulas for the cubic, quartic, or quintic equations? It turns out that the solution of the cubic didn’t become familiar to mathematicians quite so easily! There’s a real story here, filled with challenges, drama, and controversy! After hearing this tale and learning a bit about the solution, we will see how the Italian mathematician Margherita Beloch solved the cubic using origami in the 1930’s.