Mathematics - What Use Is It?

Discussion in 'Education & Learning' started by Tom Locke, Mar 10, 2016.

  1. Ruby Begonia

    Ruby Begonia Very Well-Known Member
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    I never was good at math. My good subjects were history, social studies and a few of the sciences.
     
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  2. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    My best subjects and easy A's were languages. I took both French and Spanish in High School.

    Also biology I was good in but not chemistry or physics. I was good in all the math except geometry.
     
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  3. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    Two years after moving to very rural Missouri Ozarks, one neighbor down the road, about 2 miles down, was the local high school principal, a farmer "on the side". My wife had met his wife hiking our road, and they talked. Early August, 2002, Kenny Cook, the Principal, showed up at our front door, wanting to "talk". Seemed his wife had told him I had an Engineering background, their Math teacher had suddenly announced he was leaving after 15 years, school started in two weeks, his prospects of finding a replacement were very dim. In a town of 390 population, getting a Math teacher migh require a very long time. Would I consider taking on the job?

    Well, I had never actually taught, but did conduct electrical safety classes for an employer, so COULD B.S. my way through presentation if needed. My wife encouraged it strongly, neither of us worked, we had no income or medical coverage until I would turn 62. In accepted the position.

    I had 6 classes a day: Trigonometry Semester 1 (Calculus 1 the 2nd. Sem.), Plane Geometry, Algebra II, Algebra I, Remedial Math. I and II. My nephew, who taught at NAU, told me the average class-load nation-wide was 4-1/2 classes daily. I took on a rough schedule! So, @Chrissy Page, after years of being away from a lot of it, I shuddered at the thought of stumbling through this. No sweat! A bit of review, and I was flying! Had a good time with those kids, gained their trust and respect, whereas the old-timers teaching had not; they hated me. Small-town stigma.

    Frank
     
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  4. Denise Happyfeet

    Denise Happyfeet Very Well-Known Member
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    I mastered and excelled at partying, and cruising the gut for guys;) Looking back, I don't regret a moment. You gotta have a passion for something;)
     
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  5. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    Excuse me? "the gut"???

    Anyways, these kids, young adults, grew up in the middle of the Bible Belt, predominantly Southern Baptist influenced (my boss was Pastor at his own church). Yet, all they talked about, and freely at that, was getting drunk, who had "balled" so and so, but even so, drugs were rarely mentioned, just alcohol. The drug trade maybe had not made it's way into small towns? More chance of getting caught? I wondered. These folks were "salt of the Earth", ready to give you the clothes off their backs. Stemmed from growing up poor, mores instilled to be honest, I gathered.

    This school adhered to punishment, administered via the Principal, in his office, consisting of "swats", they called them, administered over their backside, the condition of which (covered or bare) I never determined. I was shocked and amazed. I asked my students, casually, dependent on age and the course involved, what their reaction was. "Did it make better students of them"? One big burly kid, a Junior 19 years old, confided, "Mr. H......., I just laugh at him. Pisses him off. It's fun, and a way to get out of class". By then, I was aghast, but tried hard not to show it. Here were these kids spilling their guts to a stranger, while hating the system entrapping them. A few were absolutely outstanding academically, but trapped within a small-town system precluding their being offered betterment, college. One sexy, obviously self-certain senior girl, Hannah, on the first day of class, wearing tight short shorts I knew violated the code, sat munching a candy bar as we awaited the starting bell, first class. I started out by explaining I was not a "teacher", but rather an Engineer, who mused Mathematics everyday. She smiled, after I admonished her, stating I would do "just fine"! I later learned Hannah had scored highest in the entire state in a national Math test. Her career goal? To become a Caterpillar Tractor mechanic!

    These kids were beyond young adulthood, as I remembered it from high school, and were the product of the "sexually permissive" society of the late '60s and 1970s. Yet, much was not different. I offered Hannah's class the opportunity for extra credit, if they helped build a big Tesla Coil Apparatus. They jumped at the chance. Hannah brought in a big conical flower pot I asked for to wind the primary coil on, others contributed bits and pieces, and I provided the empty beer bottles which became the primary capacitors. These kids looked like they had seen "heaven"! I explained, we only did this project, because I got to drink the beer! Long story short, our Tesla Coil lighted up all the ceiling lights in the classroom, when they were off, and frightened and amazed those fearless ones who held outward fluorescent tubes in their hands, which lit brightly ten feet away from the Tesla!

    I was 60. I languished in the feeling that finally, after paying "the man" my dues all my life, some folks had received and appreciated the results of my life-long quest for understanding. They voted me, the newcomer, the one to be suspicious of, the "non-believer, the heretic, "Teacher of the Year". I felt good for the first time in years!

    Frank
     
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  6. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    Perhaps I learned a bit late in life that there is literally nothing that exists that cannot be explained in mathematical terminology. When quantum physics came in to play following the classic a whole new world of dynamics and "mechanics" explaining a new world that cannot be seen by the best of instrumentation but we know now that they exist.
    Just one example would be the neutrino or the "God particle" which was mathematically proven years before a physical proof was possible.
    Because of the new ability to detect real consciousness in humans there should be no more T. Schaivo incidents ever again in future history but the science came from mathematical processes involving quantum bio-photon entanglement and neural quantum mechanics before any real way of detection was possible.

    Everything that man builds is a result of a mathematical paradigm: The computer, TV, the automobile, aircraft, cell phones, just to name a couple of today's wonderful conveniences were mathematical contrivances before they were actually built.

    Heck, even the food we eat is labeled in mathematical terms when we see calories, carbs, protein, sugars, and good old red dye #6 just under where it says, "hot dogs." Instead of eating hot dogs, physics is a lot safer and a lot more fun to consume.

    Got a head banger for ya.......... Since Pi is an infinite number, the area of a circle is infinite as well. There is no absolute correct answer for the area of a circle.
     
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  7. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    It isn't infinite though, it's between 3 and 4. :)
     
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  8. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    @Bobby Cole @Chrissy Page : Bobby, an interesting proposal! My response to it is that, yes, there is no numerical equivalent designating Pi, but no, it is not an infinite quantity, when expressed algebraically. If the Circumferencer, C = Pi (D), then Pi = C / D, which is an exact expression. But practically, no.

    Crissy, you might like this one. Early in my first marriage, my young wife (18 when we married), born in Germany, having come to America at 16 with her folks and brother and sister, was brilliantly pragmatic. She spoke no English upon arrival, but became pretty quickly proficient due to my wanting to be with her constantly, and encouraging her. We happened to see a weather forecaster one day proclaiming that tomorrow there was a 75% chance of rain. Sue looked quizzical, then said, "He's wrong". Why was he wrong, I asked. Because it will rain or will not rain, so it's 50%.

    I could not fault her thinking, as the guy was usually wrong, anyway! Frank
     
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  9. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Isn't 3.14 between 3 and 4?
     
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  10. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    There is, I actually knew 20 numbers after the decimal by heart not that long ago. Grandson had to memorize it and I was helping.
     
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  11. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    Hmmm.........I thought I replied to Chrissy but, oh well, the more the merrier I say.
    One of Zeno's proposals, a paradox, (to paraphrase) is that if a person stepped half the distance between any two given points the later point would never be reached.

    With Pi, you are indeed correct that it is between 3.14 and ............somewhere under 4.
     
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  12. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    In base I do agree when Pi is proposed to be a finite value rather than an irrational number which is infinite. Man I love math.....! How about a physics board Ken??? Not a physic Ken........ physics.
     
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  13. Sifu Phil Bonifonte

    Sifu Phil Bonifonte Well-Known Member
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    He's still recovering from that birthday bash you folks threw for him. *hic*

    Braaaaaiiiiins ...
     
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  14. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Very Well-Known Member
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    That's a different take on the dropped ball theory I've posted before. A ball dropped from any height, before it can reach the floor it must first reach a point halfway to the floor. Then from that point it must again reach a point halfway to the floor. And so on.
     
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  15. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    Sorry, somehow I missed that post @Sheldon Scott, but that said I love the paradox of "half distance" whoever broke the news first. One of the amusing parts of Zeno of Alea is that he was a philosopher more than a mathematician. Living in the 5th century his list of paradoxes bridged upon quantum mathematics which wasn't even a sparkle in the brains of mathematicians until centuries later.

    In practical life the half distance scenario is an amusing quandary but in the quantum world it is quite possible that he was correct but how could he know that unless he .........was.....an.......(fade in the twilight zone music).....advanced alien from who knows where?
     
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    Last edited: Mar 13, 2016
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  16. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    We were required to take several courses related to Infinite Series Expansions, quite like the "half-way" there ideas discussed here. Several "tests" were applied to determine whether a given Series was convergent, approached a finite number (I guess), or divergent, going on forever (I guess again). These courses were required to get an Associate in Applied Science Degree from DeVry Technical Institute. Trudging my way through Differential Calculus, I mentioned it one day while at my Dentist. He remarked, he had to pass Calculus, too, for his Medical Degree, and never used a bit of it in practice!

    Frank
     
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  17. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    One of the most interesting things going on in our educational system is the "common core" frenzy that is being taught to our younger students.
    Instead of teaching the basic rudiments of math they are teaching conceptual mathematics which entails much of the same thing that higher systems such as geometry, trig, and calculus does.
    In my opinion, a young brain without any prior experience with the basics cannot totally grasp a concept. It's too bad that within our government educational system that a couple of calculus guys haven't provided a model noting the degradation of context or rote knowledge processes by those who are subjected to the new system.

    Of course, I didn't mention the fact that most parents have to take the dern course too so they can help their 8 year olds with their homework.
     
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  18. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    Selfish, and self-centered as I am, and always have been, I enjoyed my freedom too much as a young man, vacations several times a year, and felt early-on that having a child to raise would either result in the kid being denied the best attentions a parent should give, and that my life of luxury would therefore have to change, or I would have to be an inattentive, poor parent, something I could not live with.

    These considerations only lasted for two years of marriage, at which time we "inherited" two kids, my wife's brother and sister. They were not small children, however.

    Frank
     
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  19. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    I am pretty sure that your scenario concerning the addition to your family is not what God meant by "go forth and multiply". Given the power of one, yourself, and the necessary calculations needed to subtract the two relatives might be somewhat radical for it could cause some division between yourself and your wife. :)

    Who says we do not need math?
     
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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
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