Posts Tagged With: Number Theory

Joining the Math Club

Can you find the cat in the junk pile?

Can you find the cat?

Today I visited my college’s math club for the first time. We met in a room in the mathematics department–all six of us. Out of about 11,000 students enrolled for college credit, the math club consisted of 3 professors and 2 other students. It is my understanding, however, that there are more than 5 members–they just didn’t all show up today for one reason or another.

It wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated. To be fair, I’ve never been part of an academic club, so I probably shouldn’t’ve’d (should not have had) preconceptions. For some reason, I expected the math club meeting to be a more challenging and more participatory version of a math lecture. It wasn’t. We watched the last part of a documentary on the Riemann Hypothesis (apparently they had watched the first part in last week’s meeting) after which they bandied about esoteric words like “topology” and tried to find a well-hidden cat in a photo of a massive junk pile, because, well you know–mathematicians are blind people in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there.

I did find the experience interesting. I think I will officially join the club and begin attending it as regularly as I can. It’s an opportunity to network with like-minded people, and it’ll expand my horizons when it comes to number theory.

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For the love of math, man!

2013-08-21_2214This evening I went to my trigonometry orientation. Man, was I in for a rude awakening. About a dozen students were gathered outside of the lecture hall, waiting for the professor to finish her pre-algebra orientation. It all started innocently enough. One of the students mentioned that this was her second go at the trig course. Wow, she must really love trigonometry, I thought. Then another student said the same thing, head hanging in shame. Wait a minute… they failed the course on their first try, I realized. Then the conversation drifted to the horrifying as the students professed their mutual hatred for all things cosine and for math in general. Such blasphemy! I wanted to cover my ears and go, “lah-la-lah-la” and pretend I never heard a thing.

I love math. If I could, I would have sex with it and then cuddle with it. When I start a math course, my heart starts fluttering. Not with nervousness, mind you, but with a feeling of pure lust. When I’m at a party, I can’t wait to get home and do the nasty with sines and cosines. I even profess my love for math on my clothing. One of my favorite t-shirts has a symbol of pi and i. Pi is saying “Get real” and i is saying “Be rational”.  I love that shirt. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I wear it in public.

I haven’t always loved math. When I was in Amish grade school, I was at the top of my class. In other words, I was mediocre and sometimes left with B’s. My teachers simply refused to show me math in its real naked glory. As a result, I found math rather boring. But then, wait for it… I saw it… or felt it, rather. My inner mathesexuality.

It happened when I developed an affinity for layman-oriented books on number theory. When I learned that there is no easy way to determine if a number is prime (other than dividing it by every smaller natural number), I was skeptical. I mean, seriously… that makes no sense. The structure of the number line–the distribution of primes–it’s such a straightforward thing, how could there not be a simple formula for determining whether a number is prime? I played around with it, and the hours stretched into days as I tried to figure it out and develop the magical formula. I never did find it, but my fascination with the distribution of prime numbers remains erect… I mean unabated.

Then I learned about e. It had been sitting there on the number line all this time. The utter amazingness of e is so profound that I can’t even find the words for it. And then there it was… something even holier…

e^{i \pi} + 1 = 0

Somebody is making this shit up, right? I mean that’s just too damn convenient. I still haven’t the foggiest clue what it means, but its utter beauty gives me a intellectual erection the likes of which I’ve never experienced in all my life of lusting after equations. It was love at first sight. I’m not a religious person (anymore), but that simple little equation is the closest I’ve ever come to a religious epiphany.

The only math I’m not good at is combinatorics. When it comes to calculating probabilities, I can’t make heads or tails out of coin flips. Well, actually, that part is easy. It’s the permutations and combinations that get me. It’s like math on PMS–about all I can do is tiptoe around it. Double counting fallacy? I will count my apples as often as I damn well please, thank you very much! One of these days I will take a discrete math course. That’ll teach me!

Anyway, I think I hear trig puzzles calling me. Maybe I should return to my homework. I hope this has helped you understand how much I love math. I have just screamed it from the rooftops. One last thought… I like my math how I like my women–abstract and well-defined. Hmm, yeah, I can see that becoming a nerd meme…

Happy mathing!

P.S. That thing I said about liking my women abstract… I think I may have tangled that simile a bit. I actually have a real life fiancee. She is real (not abstract), well-defined, gorgeous, and I love her second only to math.

Image Credit: Get the shirt here

Categories: Math | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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