Math in the News(paper)

Last year, Professor Steven Strogatz of Cornell University wrote a series of op-eds for the New York Times that discussed the presence of mathematics in unlikely places. I discussed one of these columns here. Now, either those articles were well-received, or Professor Strogatz is well-connected, because this year he’s back in the Times with a much more ambitious series of articles. This time around, Strogatz is attempting to “[write] about the elements of mathematics, from preschool to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject.”

Preschool to grad school is a significant amount of ground to cover, but thus far Strogatz has used his articles to assault this goal with gusto. To date, he has tackled counting, patterns in addition, negative numbers, division, and basic high school algebra. This doesn’t really do justice to his content, though. Along the way he . . . → Read More: Math in the News(paper)

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Decimal Point Fail, Ctd

I apologize for my silence over the past few weeks – I have been out of the country learning math and eating pancakes. While I get back into the swing of things, I’ve got a couple of points to mention that relate to earlier posts regarding our collective inability to correctly use the decimal point.

The first is a picture from a flyer advertising maid service. Here’s the ad (sent in to me by a dedicated foot soldier in the army that is my readership, a.k.a. my mother):

Names and phone numbers have been cropped out to protect the innocent. But in a case such as this, are there really any innocents? Although we’ve seen decimal point errors on signs before, this one is arguably the most egregious of all. Presumably the intended price is $100 – if that’s the case, then not only is the decimal point . . . → Read More: Decimal Point Fail, Ctd

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The Cheapest Salad Bar in the World

Last week, I went to a number theory conference in Utah. The conference was very good, and I learned quite a lot, which I suppose is the goal of any such conference. The location of the conference itself was also quite nice – it was close to the mountains, a lake, and the home of Blendtec, famous for their “Will it Blend” series of videos.

As you might expect, most of what I learned on this conference pertained to number theory. However, there were lessons outside of this sphere of knowledge as well. The one lesson I will share with you is best encapsulated in this picture:

That’s right – Ghiradelli now makes salad.

It was my friend Jack who pointed out the placement of the decimal point. Apparently the people who work in cafeterias in Utah are the same people who work at Verizon call centers. If you ever . . . → Read More: The Cheapest Salad Bar in the World

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Verizon Employees Suck at Math

If you’ve got the time, and/or the patience, listening to this audio clip of George Vaccaro try to deal with a series of Verizon representatives who claim that 0.002 = 0.00002 should be enough to strike fear into your heart regarding the future of mathematical literacy in this country. Then again, he’s talking about problems he had while in Canada, so maybe the reps are Canadian. We’d never make such an obvious mistake here in the States, right? Right…

On a related note, I would encourage all of you to start writing the dollar amounts on your checks as more complicated mathematical expressions. Everyone could use a boost to their mathematical literacy, bankers included.

The audio clip is quite long, and the longer it goes on, the more depressing it gets.

. . . → Read More: Verizon Employees Suck at Math

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