CTK Insights

Archive for the 'History' Category

20 Dec

Beautiful Geometry

And this is how it goes: 51 chapters that combine pedagogically meaningful artwork together with informative, and often eye opening, text. The book ends with a short Appendix which lays foundations for several mathematical concepts mentioned in the text.

This is truly an enjoyable, simple book that meets if not exceeds the author's expectations. It's a good seasonal present, too.

06 Jul

Weather Forecasting: A Story of Mathematical Triumph

But naturally, mathematics was not evolving all by itself. The authors excel in presenting establishment of the science of meteorology as a human endeavor. The history of meteorology is rich in perseverance, sacrifice, enthusiasm, ingenuity, useful missteps, multinational collaboration ... and plain hard work. Authors' fluent recount makes the story all the more fascinating, even if math applications are only at the back of your mind. The book is a superior read.

01 Mar

Photo cameras I owned

One of surprises that I came across while hunting for a new camera online, was that in all likelihood Powershot G2 became a collectors item. At amazon.com it is more expensive than the Rebel, at Sears it fetches a hefty $1763.62. Alas, on eBay it is offered for $36.25

14 Feb

The Butterfly Effect

I realize that the book was shipped some time before the tweeter discussion has started; still, the thought that there might be a relation to the butterfly effect crossed my mind. On opening the book I almost immediately noticed a cartoon that did not immediately invoke any connection to weather prediction

20 Dec

The Forgotten Art of Spherical Trigonomtery

Now, do you really care how much mathematics went into building bridges, refrigerators, airplanes, or gasoline refinery? Mathematics is being used in every conceivable piece of technology, every branch of science, while some of it even proves useful to practically everyone in everyday life. So, my question is, Is it truly necessary to burden the students with a study of the subject which most of them won't be using in their work on the pretext of its extremely universal usefulness? I believe that past and present educational reforms keep beating a dead horse.

22 Oct

A Property of the Power of 5

My late father was an inveterate human calculator. During the 1930s at the height of the New Economic Policy (NEP) that allowed a degree of post-revolution entrepreneurship in the Soviet Union, he made a living by giving on-stage mental math performances. He became an electrical engineer when the NEP was curtailed.

Browsing through his notes I have recently come across an observation concerning the fifth powers of integers and its relevance to the absence of integer solutions of x^5 + y^5 = z^5 - Fermat's equation for n=5.

06 Sep

Viewing Raphael's School of Athens

I actually caught a fellow sliding a hand into my trouser pocket in a bus and had a good time watching a taxi driver's performance that included rolling up the eyes and slapping himself on cheeks. Having been forewarned, I truly enjoyed the two incidents.

In contrast, I was rather disappointed to find the famous School of Athens in such modest quarters. I was awed in the presence of the great work, but could not see it all at once (like you see the reproduction above, which I believe was made with wide lenses, too.) If it only were my choice ...

21 Jul

Roman, decimal and sexagesimal

The three problems have been posed to Leonardo by Johannes of Palermo at the request of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II. Leonardo sent a copy of the solutions to Frederick; whether he intended the book for a broader audience I do not know. If he did, we may conclude that the sexagesimal system was in use beyond the educated court of Frederick, but evidently the court mathematicians and Frederick himself have not fully internalized the decimal system. That this was indeed so. There is no record in which system the calculations were carried out, just the answer which was written as a sexagesimal number.

15 Jun

Two quotes on math education

TweetThere is a firmly held belief that study of mathematics has a benevolent effect on brain development. I am not aware of any research that supports this thesis. The evidence is mostly anecdotal, like that expressed in the following quote: To those of us who have not pursued the study of mathematics since college days […]

26 May

Indivisibles and Infinitesimals

Tweet If you are not a historian of mathematics and do not work in the foundation of calculus, you may easily confuse two concepts - indivisibles and infinitesimals - that are both claimed to underlie modern calculus. For example (see Mikhail Katz and David Sherry) mention a paragraph from C. Boyer (The concepts of the […]

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