As a Doctor of Math, I often have to deal with a lot of the misinformation that floats around about math. Whenever I hear a child (or even an adult) make a claim like "Math is boring" or "It's pointless to learn math" I just have to cringe. I then also have to take the time out of my busy schedule to set the misinformed wretch straight, which I also do not appreciate. But what else am I to do? Am I to allow the good name of mathematics to be casually shat upon without lifting a finger? Certainly not.
So, to set the record straight once and for all, I recently invited members of the public to send me any pressing questions or concerns they had about math. This way I could publish the most common questions (along with my answers), and in doing so ensure that the absolute beauty (and usefulness!) of mathematics could be revealed to as many people as possible.
So, without further ado: Math!
Learning math in school is all well and good, but when am I going to use math in real life?You'll always use math! Math is the most useful skill a human being can have, along with self-locomotion and the ability to digest dairy products. But just for a moment, let's close our eyes and imagine what your life would be like in a world without math....
- Jason R.
FriendshipYour friend Ted asks you to "please hand him one of those oranges" but you, being unable to count in a world without math, attempt to pick up all twelve oranges from the bowl at the same time. You drop most of them, and a few roll under the brake pedal of the car. Ted is unable to stop and the next intersection and the ensuing wreck mangles both of your bodies beyond comprehension.
ShoppingThe sign on those potato chips said now 5% more free, and you, having no knowledge of how percentages function in a world without math, blindly purchased them. They may have been a good deal, but then again they may not have. It doesn't matter in any case, because you did not care for their flavor and were forced to discard them.
CookingWithout math, there was nothing to stop you from pouring slightly more red phosphorus than you needed into your methamphetamine mix, causing your meth to come out somewhat chalky. Your customers may be meth fiends, but they are not savages. You are forced to listen to them complaining about the consistency of the meth.
Balancing Your CheckbookYou needed to balance your check book. Unfortunately since math did not exist, you could not. Therefore you accidentally wrote a check for $12 for some ice pops when you actually only had $5 in your account. Your credit union automatically transferred $7 from your savings account into checking at no additional charge or inconvenience to you. If math had existed for you, this never would've happened!
So as you can probably see, to be ignorant of math is a gamble you can't afford to take!
The Pythagorean Theorem seems worthless. What a bunch of crap.That isn't really a question Megan, but I'm certainly not going to let that stop me from showing you how utterly foolish and ignorant you really are. Here are five situations where knowing the Pythagorean Theorem means the difference between LIFE and DEATH:
1. Building a BridgeEngineers, carpenters, builders, and architects all use the Pythagorean theorem every hour of every day. Without it, it's impossible to create a right-angled triangular shape, and we all know right-angled triangles are the basic building blocks of all life on earth! Why, just take a look at a window frame, a college campus parking lot, or the stem of a crack-cocaine pipe. These are all wonderful examples of naturally occurring Right Triangles we would have a hard time living without!
Needless to say, I won't be crossing any bridges built by a carpenter who doesn't know his math! (It would collapse immediately because of the builder's failure to utilize right triangles due to his lack of knowledge about Pythagoras's Theorem!)
2. Purchasing a Television SetHow else would a shopper calculate the size of the base of a television to see if it would fit in his entertainment center? In case you didn't know, the screen size of TVs is measured diagonally, not horizontally. Good luck figuring the horizontal measurement out without using the Pythagorean theorem, loser!
3. Buying a New CarWhen sizing up an automobile for purchase, the first thing any good shopper looks at is structural integrity. If the auto isn't structurally sound, it won't do you much good in a crash (or even basic cornering for that matter). Yes, the first thing any savvy car-shopper looks for is how well the angles of the structural beams of the car conform to--you guessed it--the Pythagorean theorem. The rule of thumb is: The more right triangles, the safer the car. It's simple.
For a good laugh, try imagining a car comprised entirely non-Pythagorean-conforming triangles. Talk about wacky!
4. Playing a Game of SoccerA soccer player utilizes Pythagoras's work each time he runs diagonally. Without knowledge of this theorem, he would be relegated to turning at 90 degree angles, and wouldn't that be a sight to behold! No, without good old Pythagoras, little Pepe won't be scoring too many "soccer points" for his team, I'm afraid.
5. Piloting a Commercial AircraftAirline pilots need to learn the Pythagorean Theorem due to their reliance on angles (take-off, landing, distance of approach as related to the sun, etc), so if you ever meet a pilot who claims not to know it, run the other way!
If you're still not convinced, imagine this situation: A pilot is flying a group of diseased war veterans and award-winning girl scouts from New York to San Antonio. Suddenly, lightning strikes the plane, causing the power to go out. All the pilot knows is the precise speed of the plane, the distance to the ground, and the exact distance remaining to the nearest airport. Unfortunately, this particular pilot didn't bother to learn his math, and therefor cannot utilize Pythagoras's Theorem.
The plane plummets to the ground so fast that it catches on fire upon entering earth's atmosphere, searing every passenger alive before it smashes into a million pieces into the newly rebuilt world trade centers.
Still think math is useless?
Can you Find the points of intersection of the curves with polar equations $r=6\cos\theta$ and $r=2+2\cos\theta$?I certainly can, but at the present moment in time I have far more pressing matters to attend to, such as defending the good name of Lady Math from those who would orally violate her.
But...seeing as you are one of the faithful, I suppose I won't let you leave empty-handed. Here's a small hint to get you started:
If Ï€n(X) = [Sn, X] = [S, X]n is the smash product of an n-dimensional sphere, then carry the substrate of the regular parametric representation ratio to the extension from affine schemes which are diametrically charged in opposition to the manifest destiny spheroid variation.
Hope that helps!
My dad works as a carpenter and he says he only uses basic math. I want to be a carpenter too, so why do I have to take classes like Pre-Calculus in school? It seems like a waste of time which could be better spent learning a useful foreign language like Spanish or something.A waste of time?! Math is NEVER a waste of time! Knowledge is knowledge, and you just never know when you might need to use a skill like calculus! For example, what if at age 42 you are suddenly unable to perform your duties as a carpenter (due to something like early onset Alzheimer's or a crippling dismemberment) and the only job available to you was Aerospace Engineer? You can bet you'll be darn glad you spent all that time on Calculus in high school, won't you?!
And as for other "real-world" classes like Spanish being a better use of time than advanced math? You must be joking! Let me tell you, if you're looking to break into the lucrative field of "possessing the ability to communicate on a meaningful level with a Mexican", then go right ahead and waste your time taking Spanish IV.
While you're "learning" about your "Casa Pequitos" and your "Mucho Libros", I'll be a Best Buy, purchasing a $146 graphing calculator I'll probably only use twice. And that's really the concept behind advanced math in a nutshell: Expensive and time-consuming planning for events which are highly unlikely to ever take place. Some folks call it wasteful. Some folks call it ridiculous.
But Me? I call it beauty.