Posts Tagged With: Trigonometry

Math Tests and Hominid Skulls

Last week was horrible. I had a pre-calculus exam that covered the previous month of study and a trigonometry mid-term on the same day. I love math, but I don’t think it’s the greatest idea to be taking two math courses at once.

I spent every free hour of the week drilling the trigonometry into my brain. Most of pre-calculus is just a review of concepts I’ve covered before, so I thought it would be better to focus on the trig. Besides the pre-calc test was just one of four and the trig test was one of two, so my score on the trig test would have twice as much of an impact on my overall score in that course compared to the pre-calc test and course.

So the day of the course comes, and I have to drive about 30 miles south of home to take the 4:00PM pre-calc test on my college’s southernmost campus. It turns out I should have studied more. The pre-calc test was a bitch. It would’ve been easy if I had reviewed for several days prior to taking it. Still, I persevered and took almost the whole two hours, and in the end I did get 100% on the test. After that, I hopped back in my truck and headed 45 miles north to my college’s nothernmost campus for the 7:00PM trig test. This one was easier, but only because I had spent the whole week reviewing. The first half had to be done without calculator, so we could prove a good conceptual grasp of the subject. That’s why I love trig–most people hate deriving formulas and proving identities, but I think it’s the best part of math, and trig is filled with it. I took the entire 2 hours, checking and double-checking my work. I haven’t received my score yet, but I feel very confident. I finally got home at 9:30 that night. I think I would have vomited if I saw another equation.

The next several days I took it easy. Bad idea! This week I’m still suffering from a lack of ambition. Is it mid-semester blues? Am I burned-out from all the math last week? Taking several days off probably didn’t actually help me. Instead of being revitalizing me, it made me lazy.

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Today, news sites are filled with the story of a hominid skull found in Georgia (the European country). Apparently, the researchers believe this skull could mean a rewrite of hominid taxonomy. According to one article, the skull “could be evidence that early hominids are actually all members of a single species.” Why is this important to me? Well, just two weeks ago I did a research essay for my anthropology course where I proposed this very “rewrite” on the basis of previous evidence. Now I feel validated. When I had written the essay, I assumed that my position was probably wrong–that I simply did not have the background in anthropology to make sweeping proposals like that. However, given the little knowledge I did have of the subject it seemed to me that the evidence suggests that early hominids were all the same species. I’m sure my knowledge was too limited and my reasoning to shallow to convince anthropologists on the basis of my essay alone, but it feels good to know that I may actually have had some insight into a subject that is still new to me.

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Categories: College, College Life, Math | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Looking Forward to Fall 2013

Notepad and Pen

Here’s a picture of a notepad and pen. Just because…

For the fall semester, I enrolled in five courses, and I’m excited about all of them. I’m going to note some of my feelings/ideas about the coming semester, and after it’s all over, I’ll see if it went as well as I think it will.

I will be taking all of my upcoming courses online, except for one: chemistry will be a blended course–lectures online, but lab in the physical world. By taking them online, I can work on raising funds to support my addiction to education.

Introduction to Anthropology

I picked this course primarily because it seemed to be the most interesting course that satisfies segments of both the Gordon Rule and International/Intercultural requirements. I know there will be at least four essays, but they don’t scare me–they’re only required to be two pages long. As long as I find the subject interesting, I don’t mind writing the essays. I think I will enjoy learning a little more about the history of that species of rascals that currently infests Earth.

Introductory Chemistry

I’m really looking forward to this course. I’ve always been interested in learning about the fundamental building blocks of nature, and while the elements of chemistry might not be the quarks of quantum mechanics, I think I will learn a lot and enjoy doing it. I didn’t study chemistry in high school, and I’ve never “played” in a laboratory, so I’m really looking forward to that aspect of it. If I can learn the skills to become the next Breaking Bad methmaker, that’d be a bonus. I kid.

Trigonometry

I’ve studied trigonometry before, so I don’t think this course will be very difficult for me. It will mostly be review, but I have to take the course before I can enroll for the calculus series.

Pre-calculus Algebra

Same as above. About half of this course will be spent reviewing what I just got done reviewing in College Algebra. I’ll slog through it looking forward to the day when I can finally enroll in that first calculus course.

Creative Writing

I’m still vacillating a little about this course. If I don’t like the syllabus when I look at it, I might drop the course. I hate poetry, but I enjoy writing. I have a moderate interest in writing science fiction, and I’m hoping this course can help me. If you have any advice for me, please leave a comment!

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