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Monday, October 25, 2010

Nerd Girl Hall Of Fame: Danica McKellar

I said I'd profiled a real nerd girl this time around, as opposed to a fictional one. At first glance you might think I went back on my word -- and the word of a nerd is sacred. But I didn't. Our inductee this time out is Danica McKellar, who you may remember as Kevin Arnold's (Fred Savage's) love interest on the bubblegum sitcom The Wonder Years.

I'll cop to having a crush on Winnie (Danica), which is perfectly legitimate since we were roughly the same age at the time. Winnie (Danica) was wicked cute, and had all the makings of a first class nerd girl.

But we aren't inducting Winnie Cooper, fictional nerd girl. We're inducting Danica McKellar, real life nerd girl.

She's always been hot, but this beauty has brains to spare: she even has a mathematical therom named after her! Danica studied mathematics at UCLA, graduating with highest honors (summa cum laude) in 1998.

As an undergraduate, she coauthored a scientific paper with Professor Lincoln Chayes and fellow student Brandy Winn. Their results are termed the 'Chayes–McKellar–Winn theorem'. Otherwise known as 'Percolation and Gibbs States Multiplicity for Ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller Models in Z2.'

Danica's Erdős number is four. If you know what that is, you're a hardcore mathnerd. If you understand the significance, you know that Danica is likewise a hardcore math nerd. And as super-hot as that is, it's not the best thing about Danica (and no, I'm not talking about her adorable face or her luscious body). The best thing about Danica is that she's putting her brains to work on behalf of all of our daughters in a series of specialized math books designed specifically for preteen and teenaged girls.

Since most math books are written by men and are as much fun to read as cold pancakes with no syrup, Danica penned a much more appropriate style designed to appeal to the native sensibilities of younger girls. It's tragic how much girls are discouraged from doing math in school -- or at least doing well at it. Not only are teachers and the system in general prejudiced against the idea that girls can excel at mathematics, but social pressures on girls from each other to bag math as boring, boy stuff is profound. As a father of a young daughter facing that already in elementary school, I fully appreciate just how much a series of books like Danica's is needed.

Her three books are Math Doesn't Suck, Kiss My Math, and the brand-new, scalding hot-off-the-presses Hot X: Algebra Exposed!, which I'm proud to plug in my blog. And if you want to see the steamier side of this mathnerd princess, check out the video to her Maxim photo shoot!

Now, I'm sure that plenty of women out there are concerned that someone who is such a positive role model for young nerd girls is scandalously seen in her skimpies, but the fact is that her beauty and her brains make up one complete person . . . that we want to drool over. The idea that you have to be a Slagathor in order to do math is just crazy. I'd prefer my math teachers to have looked like this. I might not have been a liberal arts major, then.

Thanks, Danica!