Math

Category archives for Math

One of the chapters of the book-in-progress, as mentioned previously, takes the widespread use of statistics in sports as a starting point, noting that a lot of the techniques stat geeks use in sports are similar to those scientists use to share and evaluate data. The claim is that anyone who can have a halfway…

Dorky Poll: Rorschach Numbers

It’s been a really long time since I’ve done a Dorky Poll here, but I’m pretty fried at the moment, so here’s a kind of mathematical personality test: two numbers that do not uniquely define a sequence, but suggest some possibilities that reveal your innate character type and/or appropriate career path: Personality Test: What number…

One of the reasons I held off on commenting on the whole E. O. Wilson math op-ed thing, other than not having time to blog, was that his comments were based on his own experiences. And, you know, who am I to gainsay the personal experiences of a justly famous scientist? At the same time,…

One of the hot topics of the moment is the E. O. Wilson op-ed lamenting the way math scares students off from science, and downplaying the need for mathematical skill (this is not news, really– he said more or less the same thing a few years ago, but the Wall Street Journal published it to…

Kate and I went down to New York City (sans kids, as my parents were good enough to take SteelyKid and The Pip for the weekend) this weekend, because Kate had a case to argue this morning, and I needed a getaway before the start of classes today. We hit the Rubin Museum of Art,…

Now that we’ve apparently elected Nate Silver the President of Science, this is some predictable grumbling about whether he’s been overhyped. If you’ve somehow missed the whole thing, Jennifer Ouellette offers an excellent summary of the FiveThirtyEight saga, with lots of links, but the Inigo Montoya summing up is that Silver runs a blog predicting…

Shameless Innumeracy

On last month’s post about the public innumeracy of a Florida school board member, Tom Singer posts an update, which includes a link to a follow-up at the Washington Post blog that started the whole thing. In the course of rounding up reactions to the original, the author, Valerie Strauss, writes: In fact, there were…

On the Helpfulness of Numbers

Anybody who has taught introductory physics has noticed the tendency, particuarly among weaker students, to plug numbers into equations at the first opportunity, and spend the rest of the problem manipulating nine-digit decimal numbers (because, of course, you want to copy down all the digits the calculator gives you. Many faculty, myself included, find this…

Moving along through our countdown to Newton’s birthday, we come to the next important physical quantity, angular momentum. For some obscure reason, this gets the symbol L, and the angular momentum for a single particle about some point A is given by: This is probably the most deceptive equation we’ll see this season. Yesterday’s definition…

“In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.” – Mark Twain In last night’s post about a school board member failing 10th grade standardized tests, I may have unfairly slighted our students. In response to a comment in which Rick Roach, the school board member who couldn’t…