Vol 57 No. 16 : Sept. 1, 2005
Vol 57 No. 16 | Sept. 1, 2005
Murray Juggles Math Equations
Will Murray has been a juggler as long as he has been a mathematician.
Murray authored an article in the May 2005 issue of Kaskade, the European juggling journal, titled “Scratch Your Head: Synchronous Popcorns.” “Popcorn” is a passing pattern where two people with individual clubs “pop up” on either side. “Synchronous” is when two hands are used at once.
“I call it scratching the head because throwing with both hands is like scratching your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. You have to throw one club to yourself with one hand while simultaneously passing another club to the other person with the other hand. It’s really rough on the head,” he said.
He attended the International Juggling Festival held in Davenport, Iowa, in July and there was a sizable contingent of Japanese jugglers at the event. Murray, however, was not at a loss for words because he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Japanese from Georgetown University.
“I began my academic career studying Japanese, to the point where I lived in Tokyo where my interest was first kindled in math,” he recalled. “I was asked to prove things and look at new structures and it challenged me to think in different ways.” He wound up earning a doctorate in math from UC Berkeley in 2001.
Murray enjoyed 15 minutes of fame with the Japanese thanks to a juggling video partly shot in the fall of 2004 at CSULB. “Things You Can’t Do II” from Ivan Pecel Productions includes brief moments of Murray juggling near The Walter Pyramid and the Brotman Hall fountain. “Apparently, this has been quite widely circulated in Japan,” he said. “When I showed up at the festival, there were all these Japanese people who said, you’re on that video! That was really cool.”
Murray has a tip for those who think they might like juggling. Start juggling.
“There are lots of stories of people essentially juggling in the closet,” he said. “They don’t realize there are groups of people who get together and have a lot of fun. My advice is not to get hung up on the skill level because juggling is not about that. People may think they need to juggle at a certain level to join a club. That is absolutely not true.”
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