Gauss is my homie

Today I worked on a math project, “The Centroid Olympics.” Finding the centroid of three different laminae. Sounds WAY worse than it is.

I needed help to find the centroids but was always on the right track, and all the errors I made were silly ones, like deciding that (5Pi – 10) equals (Pi – 2). I dared to imagine that I knew what I was doing. It occurs to me that many math operations that once discouraged me nigh unto mental illness (integration by parts, trig sub) I now find to be fairly simple.

After 5 hours of math homework (Thursday and Friday are my catch-up days), I went to the college library. I wanted an Arthur Machen book and a math history book. The history of math and science is my new kick, largely thanks to my calculus instructor’s fascinating asides about the great mathematicians. As I walked to the history of math section of the library, there among the math-stacks was a young black man. Just kind of hanging out and browsing.

Moments like these make me happy. Math and science is our club, too mine and his. Wrongs can get righted one person at a time.

2 responses to “Gauss is my homie

  1. I’m a big fan of science and math history books. My ability to do math is embarrassingly rudimentary. My only F in college was Basic Algebra — never have figured that stuff out. Thankfully someone hipped me to a particular statistics teacher who used a wonderful text book, “Statistics for Liberal Arts Majors.” Not only did I fulfill my math requirements, I got an A for the class — and had a lot of fun. So why, with the shame of my math phobia, do I currently have, as my bedtime reading, “John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death,” by Steve J. Heims?

  2. So why, with the shame of my math phobia, do I currently have, as my bedtime reading, “John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death,” by Steve J. Heims?

    Sounds like a case of closet nerdism to me. Time to face that math phobia head-on.

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