Skip to main content
Search IntMath

IntMath Newsletter - Earth geometry, Board math and Obama math

By Murray Bourne, 16 Nov 2008

16 Nov 2008

In this Newsletter:

1. Math tip - Earth Geometry
2. Latest IntMath Poll - Going to the board to do math
3. From the math blog
4. Final Thought - Obama math

Welcome to the hundreds of new readers who've recently joined us for the IntMath Newsletter. Welcome to you all!

1. Math tip - Earth Geometry

Several readers asked me for an article on 3-D earth geometry. So I wrote a special new section in Interactive Mathematics on this interesting topic.

It's a good article for those of you who are studying trigonometry or vectors because you can see how these topics are applied in the 'real world'.

Here's the link: 3-D Earth Geometry.

Image: Asia from 20,000 km out in space
Image from Google Earth.

2. Latest IntMath Poll - Going to the board to do math

The latest IntMath Poll asked readers how they feel when their math teacher asks them to go to the board to solve a problem in front of the whole class.

It seems that this is not a popular task (among readers of Interactive Mathematics). The results from 2000 voters:

39%   It's OK
32%   I hate it
29%   I'm uncomfortable

So a total of 61% reported that they don't really like solving problems in front of the whole class.

I asked this question because many students have reported that going to the board is an activity that increases their math anxiety.

What are your thoughts on this topic? You can comment here.

The current IntMath Poll asks you where your math anxiety comes from. You can vote on this topic in Interactive Mathematics.

3. From the math blog

1) Friday Math Movie - Sine Wave to Square Wave using Fourier Series
This movie cleverly demonstrates what Fourier Series really gives us.

2) Friday math movie - Bass guitar design
Here's a video showing how math is used when making a bass guitar. It's part of a series from The Futures Channel.

3) What's that smell? The math of air quality
Industrial pollution is inevitable in all cities. How bad is it where you live? What are the particular pollutants in your community? There's potential here to do some 'real' math.

4. Final Thought - Obama math

President-elect Obama will begin his term in late January. He faces some daunting 'real life' math problems:

  • The worst financial crisis in 100 years. Rising unemployment and poverty for millions of people — worldwide — are inevitable.
  • The Iraq war has cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths and is costing the US taxpayer around $2.5 billion per week.
  • US public debt of $59.1 trillion, or $516,348 per household. [This includes $10 trillion of federal debt, also unfunded Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare and veterans' pensions.]
  • Global warming. It is crucial that Obama puts sustainable policies into place to reduce global warming, or it will mean by the end of the century the current financial crisis will look like a picnic by comparison.

I hope Obama was a good math student. He's going to need extraordinary problem-solving abilities and wisdom to sort out this mess.

Congratulations on your win Obama. I wish you well.

See the 28 Comments below.

Leave a comment

Comment Preview

HTML: You can use simple tags like <b>, <a href="...">, etc.

To enter math, you can can either:

  1. Use simple calculator-like input in the following format (surround your math in backticks, or qq on tablet or phone):
    `a^2 = sqrt(b^2 + c^2)`
    (See more on ASCIIMath syntax); or
  2. Use simple LaTeX in the following format. Surround your math with \( and \).
    \( \int g dx = \sqrt{\frac{a}{b}} \)
    (This is standard simple LaTeX.)

NOTE: You can mix both types of math entry in your comment.


Tips, tricks, lessons, and tutoring to help reduce test anxiety and move to the top of the class.