I’m no math geek, but that doesn’t mean I utterly abhor the stuff; in fact, I have an amazing amount of respect for people who can enjoy manipulating numbers and do it well. Too bad our society continues to perpetuate stereotypes involving brainy, unwashed and socially inept kids hanging out at the other end of a room from the popular crowd, their minds on starting companies, world domination or dungeons & dragons (wait…MMORPGs).
In such a world, I have no trouble painting Stephen Wolfram as one of the last guys I’d expect to find dabbling in pop culture – he developed the 800-lb gorilla of technical computing applications, Mathematica, and built a company around it. But every now and again the stuff results in a mass-market product whose mathmatical underpinnings can hardly be denied. The guys at Wolfram Research recently released a pretty darn sweet web app for creating completely custom ring tones, dubbed Wolfram Tones.
Visitors to the site can create custom music based on a suite of variables and genres, from classical, dance and hip hop to the bit more arcane, such as ambient, latin and signalling (your guess is as good as mine). Monkey with variables in several composition control categories to get exactly what you’re looking for; those uninterested (or baffled) by the mechanics of the minutiae can simply click on genre buttons repeatedly, each click offering up a unique composition. Compositions can be saved via browser cookies, e-mailed to friends or downloaded to a cell phone (charges apply).
Yes, math can be cool. It can!