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A good education too complex to be reduced to a single number

September23

From CNN: The scandal engulfing Columbia University and U.S. News & World Report rose to a new level last week, when Columbia acknowledged that some of the figures it had submitted last year to U.S. News were inaccurate. U.S. News initially removed Columbia from its ranking entirely, then demoted it from second to 18th place after Columbia declined to submit this year’s ranking survey. The article that first exposed Columbia’s misrepresentation was written not by a disgruntled rival but by Michael Thaddeus, a tenured professor in Columbia’s own math department.

The Professor said, “The public was told for years, for example, that Columbia had a higher proportion of small undergraduate classes (those with fewer than 20 students) than any other leading university. In fact, Columbia’s proportion of small classes is the second-worst in the Ivy League, not the best as Columbia had claimed.

Likewise, our administration had claimed that the overwhelming majority of faculty on our main campus was full-time, but now we learn that this, too, was false. In reality, the numbers of part-time faculty and full-time faculty are almost the same.
U.S. News claims to determine the “Best Colleges,” but all it … makes no attempt to assess the quality of teaching and scholarship directly. For how could it? A good education is a subtle thing that is far too complex to be reduced to a single (ranking) number. The one-size-fits-all approach of the U.S. News ranking ignores the reality that different students have different interests and needs. Some favor the arts, for example, while others prefer the sciences, but the ranking makes no such distinction.
U.S. News says it relies on schools to report their data accurately. But asking schools to report unaudited data about themselves exposes them to intense conflicts of interest. Administrators are incentivized to manipulate figures, game the system, and focus on parameters of dubious importance while paying scant attention to what happens in the classroom.” [Wow, someone, somehow, got their data reporting all wrong?]

The Mathematics Tour

September19

The +–=÷x Tour (pronounced the Mathematics Tour) is the ongoing fourth world concert tour by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. Comprising 76 shows, the tour officially began on 23 April 2022, in Dublin, Ireland, and is due to end on 12 March 2023 in Perth, Australia.[3][4] The tour is in support of his fifth studio album, (2021). Ticket sales began in September 2021.

What’s Your Favorite Number?

September14

In 2014, a survey launched by a British mathematics writer has found that seven is the world’s favorite number, reports The Guardian. The numbers three, eight and and four came in second, third and fourth. What makes this amusing is that I was about to do a post that told readers that 7 was my favorite number and a quick google of this topic confirmed that was a favorite for others as well. O.K. but you might ask why? For me, 7 is a complete week, the end of a cycle; it represents rest before starting again. It is also a prime number (after 2, 3, and 5). We also have religious reasons for thinking that 7 is special – think: seven deadly sins and seventh heaven. In nature, you have the seven wonders of the world, seven colours of the rainbow, seven seas and seven continents. In the gambling world, the dots on the opposite sides of an ordinary dice sum to seven and there is a commonly-held belief that a series of seven shuffles will fully randomise a deck of cards.

Newcastle University hosted the “UK Numbers Festival” in 2015 in a variety of venues in and around the northeast of England. An overarching festival question was: “What is your favourite number – and why?” designed to act as a “glue” to bind together the diverse aspects of the festival. This engaging question hoped to capture the imagination of the region and ask the general public to think a little more about numbers and how they influence their lives. Of the 442 people who answered the survey (of a total attendance of 10,000 people at the festival), 7 was the most popular choice for both men and women. [read more here]. PS: you might want to do your own in-class or in-school survey to find the most popular number and tally the results by boys/girls. Try the same task with car number plates too.

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Queen Elizabeth II: Her Reign in Numbers

September11

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Squares and Square Roots

August22

Yes, roots are everywhere in Mathematics too.  Below is a diagram to illustrate 3 x 3 = 9 (or “three squared = nine) or

32 = 9

The opposite of squaring is finding the “square root” or

For the diagram below √9 = 3

Square roots are used throughout Mathematics and have applications in probability, statistics, physics, architecture, and engineering.

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The Wonder of Mathematics

August19

“The Wonder Years” actress Danica McKellar left acting to pursue a mathematics career and now she’s explaining why.

McKellar’s young son Draco recently interviewed his mom for ET, asking her, “You were about my age when you acted in ‘The Wonder Years.’ What do you remember most about those years?”
McKellar said it was hard to balance work and school.
“What I remember the most is juggling being an actress and doing my schoolwork,” she said. “It was a lot of going back and forth to the school trailer.” While taking a break from acting for some time, she became an acclaimed mathematician. McKellar has also authored 11 children’s books about math.
“I went to UCLA, but when I got to school, everywhere I went, people all over campus would shout across campus, you know, ‘Hey Winnie!’ or ‘Hey, loved you on ‘The Wonder Years!'” McKellar said of her character on the show, Winnie Cooper. “I couldn’t get away from it. So I needed to find out how I was valuable outside of Winnie Cooper, and math was challenging and I did well at it. And I love this feeling that my value, the important stuff had nothing to do with how I looked or television.”
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Recapturing the Curve for an Airline

August12
The A380 super jumbo has many supporters around the world, but none quite as vocal and powerful as Sir Tim Clark (seen below, in the A380 lounge bar)), the president of Emirates, by far the largest operator of the aircraft. The Dubai-based airline purchased nearly half of all A380s ever produced and now has 118 in its fleet, about 80 of which are currently flying. The entire fleet will be back in the air by spring of next year, as part of a resurgence that has seen the super jumbo reintroduced into service with many of its operators, after the pandemic led many to believe it was ready for retirement.
“The notion that the A380 was a spent force was always a little bit of a difficult one for us to swallow,” Clark told CNN Travel (read full article here). Currently, the largest planes offered by the two leading manufacturers are the Airbus A350-1000 and the upcoming 777-9. However, Clark believes they are too small to replace the A380 in Emirates’ fleet.
The math tells you that you need a big unit, much bigger than we’re getting at the moment,” he says.
“The biggest one will be the 777-9, whenever that comes to market, which in our configuration [will seat] 364 people against 484 on the A380s with our new premium economy. And it was 519 before, so you get where I’m coming from.”
The “math” Clark refers to comes from demand for air travel, which he says was growing by about 4.5% per year before the pandemic. Assuming that curve is recaptured, it would take just 10 to 15 years to see demand increase by half. “Even with multiple 787s and A350s all busy flying around the world, I still don’t get how you will pick up that growth curve,” says Clark. “Supply will be suppressed, demand will continue to grow, and when that happens prices rise, it’s inevitable. Clark’s answer is a new plane as big as the A380, if not bigger, with modern features such as lightweight composite materials and more efficient engines.
“Is it possible to redesign a new A380? Yes. Is it possible to lighten the aircraft? Yes. When they brought this aircraft to market, composites weren’t really [widespread],” says Clark. “Imagine a composite wing and a predominantly composite fuselage. Imagine engines that are giving you a 20 to 25% improvement compared to what you get today. So you get a lighter aircraft, far more fuel-efficient, which ticks all the boxes as far as the environmentalists are concerned.”
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Women with all the right moves…

August11

In just half a day, the Indian women’s chess team went from the near-certainty of a gold medal at the Chess Olympiad to the dismay of a bronze. They still made history – as the first-ever Indian women’s team to win a medal at an Olympiad. But for a brief while, even the bronze was in doubt. After the final round games ended on Tuesday – with the gold and silver in the women’s section going to Ukraine and Georgia respectively – India’s medal fortunes hung in the balance. It took some manic tiebreak math to decide whether the bronze medal went to India or the US. Numbers favoured Indians and the Americans had to make peace with a fourth place. [source: BBC]. Click for Information on the Greatest Women Chess Players of All Time.

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Optical Illusions Play with our Minds

August11

Optical illusions can be fascinating – look closely at the centre of the frame above. Illusions like this reveal curious details about how our eyes and minds work, how we perceive colour and light, and they’re just fun to look at too. And it seems people have been intrigued by them for centuries because we’ve even seen optical illusions going all the way back to the 12th century and further, long before people were sharing spinning shapes and boxes on TikTok and Instagram. Check out more illusions here. PS: A new study corrects an important error in the 3D mathematical space developed by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger and others, and used by scientists and industry for more than 100 years to describe how your eye distinguishes one color from another. The research has the potential to boost scientific data visualizations, improve TVs and recalibrate the textile and paint industries. Read about it here.

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Hang on for the ride

August3

Scientists have been left baffled after discovering the Earth is spinning faster than normal – making days shorter than usual.

New measurements by the UK’s National Physical Laboratory show that the Earth is currently spinning faster than it was half a century ago.

On June 29, the Earth’s full rotation took 1.59 milliseconds less than 24 hours – the shortest day ever recorded.

Scientists have warned that, if the rotation rate continues to speed up, we may need to remove a second from our atomic clocks. Read more here.

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« Older Entries

Post Support

Where are you? the North Pole

Prize Object Puzzle: If Sue does not know where the prize is in the first question, it can’t be under the square. She must have been told it is under another shape. Apply this same logic to Colin. It is then obvious that the prize cannot be under a yellow object. That helps Sue eliminate her yellow shapes. Got the idea?

Algebra Puzzle: Answer = 1

Popular Math Problems Answers: 1, 1

Number of tabs? According to Lifehacker, the ideal number of tabs you should have open is nine. Yes, a single digit. To some, this is like playing a piano and only using a fraction of the notes!

Worst Graph? Where to start. What a visual mess and even some of the lines merge and are impossible to follow. A graph is a visual display of data, with the goal to identify trends or patterns. This is a spider’s web of information which fails to show a clear pattern at all. Solution? Well, different colors would help, or why not group in two or three graphs where trends are similar?

Number of different nets to make a cube is eleven – see this link

Homework Puzzle; The total value of the counters is 486, so halve this to get 243. Now, arrange the counters to equal this amount twice.

The graph on the left (Coronavirus) is for a time period of 30 days, while the one on the right (SARS) is for 8 months! Very poor graphical comparison and hardly relevant, unless it is attempting to downplay the seriousness of the coronavirus?

10 x 9 x 8 + (7 + 6) x 5 x 4 x (3 + 2) x 1 = 2020

NCEA Level 2 Algebra Problem. Using the information given, the shaded area = 9, that is:
y(y-8) = 9 –> y.y – 8y – 9 =0
–> (y-9)(y+1) = 0, therefore y = 9 (can’t have a distance of – 1 for the other solution for y)
Using the top and bottom of the rectangle,
x = (y-8)(y+2) = (9-8)(9+2) = 11
but, the left side = (x-4) = 11-4 = 7, but rhs = y+? = 9+?, which is greater than the value of the opp. side??
[I think that the left had side was a mistake and should have read (x+4)?]

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