Michael Starbird, a University of Texas math professor, was in his element one day last week, teaching students to puzzle their way through the concept of infinity using an endless supply of make-believe golf balls and pingpong balls, The Republic reports.

He's done it a hundred times, but never quite like this, with a video camera rolling and a behind-the-scenes staff of editors, producers and students who will package this lesson and others into "Effective Thinking Through Mathematics," his online course free to anyone in the world with a computer and an Internet connection.

Starbird, who has an easy manner and...

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