Meet Glen Whitney. The 40-year-old Long Island native made a fortune working at a hedge fund, but he quit his job recently so he could pursue a dream he's been nursing for years. (Although the article doesn't indicate where he worked, it was Jim Simons's nerd-factory, Renaissance Technologies.) Whitney's lifelong—and as-of-yet unrealized—goal? He's hoping to open a math museum in the middle of Manhattan. Can't you just feel the excitement?
Whitney says the goal of the museum is to get people to see that mathematics is a "living and developing thing that is beautiful and can be a lot of fun." How Whitney plans to pull that off remains to be seen. To drum up interest in his museum project, he's setting up several displays at this weekend's World Science Festival Street Fair in Washington Square Park, where, among other things, he plans to dazzle the crowd with an exhibit that proves the "catenary curve equation." (It's y(k, x) = (0.5*(exp(k*x) + exp(-k*x)) - 1)/k, but you probably knew that, so we're not sure why we're even bothering to mention it.) As Whitney explains it:
"We want to show the things in math that are fresh and new and are very much related to everyday life," he said, citing baseball, poker and traffic management as arenas where math plays a central role.
Or, you know, credit-default swaps.