If, as Galileo said, the book of the universe is written in the
language of mathematics, it is also true that many new chapters in the
book of mathematics have been inspired by nature. I will explore this
connection through several puzzles from the ordinary experiences of
everyday life: why is it difficult to break dry spaghetti in half? Why
do things like extension cords, shoe laces, and earbuds always get
tangled up in knots? How does a falling droplet splash onto the floor?
In each case, careful experimentation leads to mathematical answers,
generating interesting new questions in the process.