The IntMath Newsletter - Sep 2007

By Murray Bourne, 16 Sep 2007

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In this newsletter:
1. This month's math tip
2. September Math
3. Latest Poll
4. From the math blog
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1. THIS MONTH'S MATH TIP - YOUR MATH CODE

I recently enjoyed the book, The Culture Code

The book talks about the way different cultures view things. It is a fascinating insight into how marketers press our 'buying buttons'.

It got me thinking about the Code for Mathematics.

What is your Math Code?

Mathematics is a Building

In this Code, mathematics is a building that "needs a good foundation". Formulas are the mortar that holds the bricks together. If we find a "gap" in the structure (some formula we have forgotten), we need to go back and "fill the gaps".

And once it is built, the math building is solid, unchanging and fixed. What we do after that is continue to fill the building with more facts, more theorems and more graphs. In this Code, math is an indoor activity.

The math building is DEAD.

Mathematics is an Animal

Or is mathematics a living, breathing thing that is mysterious, needs investigation, and is "slippery" (once we "get it", a few weeks later it is "gone")? Is it more like a growing animal that integrates together masses of lower-level components into a complex whole?

In this Code, mathematics is part of a living system and changes as society's needs change.

The math creature is LIVING, BREATHING and GROWING.

Mathematics is a Language

Learning mathematics is often like learning a new language. You have new symbols with new (and inconsistent) meanings. Sometimes you just have to learn a lot of things by rote. But most of the time you are striving to THINK in this new language. And once you start DREAMING in that new language, you know you have made it!

The math Code for language is COMMUNICATION.

Other Codes for math

Here are some other fun codes for math. Take your pick!

-> Math is like a rock, it's hard.

-> Math is understood by three types of people. Those that get it, and those that don't.

-> Math is like food. You need it to survive. Sometimes it's fun like tasting good food, but sometimes it sucks.

-> Math is like a ladder. If a rung is missing, or if you don't get a good grip on it, you'll struggle to reach the next rung.

Whatever your Math Code, the most important thing is the process of learning how to solve problems.

References:
NCTM: http://tinyurl.com/22363e
Yahoo Answers: http://tinyurl.com/28gnwd

2. SEPTEMBER MATH

a. Equinox

On 23rd September, at 09:51 (UTC), the sun will be directly overhead the equator. "Equinox" means the day has equal sunlight and night hours. "UTC" is the same as "GMT" - Greenwich Mean Time.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the September Equinox is also known as the Spring Equinox.

b. Leonhard Euler

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of one of the world's greatest mathematicians - Leonhard Euler. This remarkable man was clever in many areas of mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, calculus, algebra, number theory and complex numbers.

He began university at age 14 and published hundreds of papers in mathematics throughout his life. He even continued to develop mathematical theories after he became blind.

Euler gave us much of the notation we use today:
* f(x) for functions,
* sin x for trigonometry,
* 'e' for the base of the natural logarithms and
* 'i' for the imaginary numbers.

Euler died on 18 September 1783.

3. LATEST POLL RESULTS - MUSIC AND MATH

Last month's poll asked: "What kind of music do you like to listen to while doing mathematics?"

There were 1000 votes and the response actually surprised me. I thought all of you would listen to some kind of music while doing math, but there was a significant number who chose 'no music'.

See the Poll Results.

Current Poll

The new poll asks if the math you are currently studying is useful to you or not. You can answer on any page in Interactive Mathematics

4. LATEST FROM THE MATH BLOG

1) WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT MATH?
This week's Friday math movie involves some math rap.

2) MICHAEL J. FOX AND THE PARKINSON'S CLUSTER
Michael J. Fox wasn't the only person who contracted Parkinson's disease in the late 1970s. Other members of his TV studio crew were also affected.

3) GIRLS ARE EVIL...?
Some questionable algebra.

4) PROBABILITY
And the probability of this happening is...

5) FIBONACCI IS ALIVE AND WELL - IN AUD:SGD
In this article we see an example of Fibonacci ratios as observed in the Australian-Singapore dollar exchange rate.

Enjoy reading.

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