Tag Archives: mathematics

Friday Poem – Arithmetic

A slightly weird, but geeky poem about Maths by the American poet, writer and editor Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) – and as a maths geek, what can I say I love it

Arithmetic

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your
head.
Arithmetic tells you how many you lose or win if you know how
many you had before you lost or won.
Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children go to heaven — or five
six bundle of sticks.
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand
to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.
Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and
you can look out of the window and see the blue sky — or the
answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again
and see how it comes out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then
double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger
and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you
what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.
Arithmetic is where you have to multiply — and you carry the
multiplication table in your head and hope you won’t lose it.
If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you
eat one and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the
other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody
offers you five six seven and you say No no no and you say
Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?
If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she
gives you two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is
better in arithmetic, you or your mother?

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

BrexitSo says the song by The Clash (1982)

And it seems quite prophetic that an English punk band’s song about relationships nearly a quarter of a century ago succinctly sums up the feelings about tomorrow’s referendum in the UK.

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

Tomorrow is a historic day. A once in a lifetime opportunity to have your say on the future of the United Kingdom.

So, what do you do?

The first and most important thing is to use your vote. If you don’t use it due to general apathy, the weather, protest, etc. your voice will not be heard and you really do not have the right to complain if the vote doesn’t go whichever way you would wish it to go!

There has been a lot of scaremongering, a lot of postulating and an awful of hot air and heated debates. But, the one thing that has, and is, been glaringly and obviously missing from this campaign, on both sides, is the absence of cold hard and concrete facts, backed up with evidence. (And as a maths geek I kinda like those things.)

There are, however, 3 facts that I know will be true when I wake up on June 24th, irrespective of which way the vote actually goes:

  1. The sun will rise in the east and set in the west;
  2. The earth will still be spinning on its axis;
  3. I will still be able to get on a plane and fly to Europe!

What the vote is, in effect, is a vote for an unknown and uncertain future.

And when you put it like that, it sounds pretty scary, right?

My dad came up with a great analogy to explain this conundrum.

In simple terms, imagine you are working for a company that is in serious trouble – think about the recent closures of BHS/Austin Reed/Tata (I would like to point out that neither him or I are comparing the state of the EU to an almost bankrupt company).

Anyway, I digress, so you are working for a company that you know is in serious trouble. What do you do?

You have 2 choices – you stay or you go.

But with both of those choices are 2 possible outcomes, and you have no clue as to what will be the outcome.

IF I STAY IN MY JOB

  1. The company will go broke and I will lose my job 😦
  2. The company will turn itself around, start making money again and my job will be safe 🙂

IF I LEAVE MY JOB

  1. I will get a new job but I won’t like the company and/or my colleagues, so I will have to look for another job 😦
  2. I will love my new job and all will be well 🙂

In other words – to put it mathematically:

tree diagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see whatever choice you make you have a 1 in 2 chance of losing (or keeping) your job, whichever way you vote.

But tomorrow you must make that same choice!

And that’s the thing with this referendum, no one knows for certain what will happen whatever way the vote goes.

IF WE STAY successive governments can argue and negotiate to keep from adopting the Euro, Schengen and other such unified policies and win their case, OR we will be forced by the majority rule (such is the case in a democracy) and be forced into becoming a state in a United States of Europe ruled from Brussels – like it or no.

IF WE GO business may (or may not) leave these shores costing jobs, livelihoods and bringing about economic chaos OR businesses will stay and we take back our seat at the World Trade Organisation and negotiate more trade agreements on our terms (rather than having to have the agreements of 27 other countries before we can) and business and the economy booms.

But no one knows what will happen.

No one can predict the future (believe me I’d be very rich if I could!) Just like no one can predict the actual outcome from rolling a dice, or spinning the roulette wheel, you can just calculate the odds. Such is the Law of Probability.

We are lucky to live in a democracy where we have freedom of thought, freedom of speech and have been given the opportunity to make such a decision.

In the end it doesn’t matter what political party you support or what your friends and family think. You vote in accordance to what you feel is right as an independent, free-thinking human being – after all a vote, as they say, is between your conscience and the ballot box, it’s no one else’s business and certainly not worth fighting over.

All you can do is go with your gut instinct, remembering that according to the Law of Probability you have a 50/50 chance of changing history for better or for worse.

But you gotta roll the dice!

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Friday Poem – A Mathematical Problem

An amazing poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) about maths, of all things!Equilateral

Interestingly enough (or not), this was how I was taught to draw an equilateral triangle. I am a maths geek to the core.

Coleridge believed that with the help of muses and a splash of imagination, mathematics could be rescued from isolation and people’s lack of interest in it. (It appears that even after 222 years attitudes to maths remains the same!)

The introduction to the poem is a letter to his brother, the Reverend George Coleridge:

Dear Brother,

I have often been surprized, that Mathematics, the quintessence of Truth, should have found admirers so few and so languid.–Frequent consideration and minute scrutiny have at length unravelled the cause–viz.–that though Reason is feasted, Imagination is starved; whilst Reason is luxuriating in it’s proper Paradise, Imagination is wearily travelling on a dreary desart. To assist Reason by the stimulus of Imagination is the design of the following production. In the execution of it much may be objectionable. The verse (particularly in the introduction of the Ode) may be accused of unwarrantable liberties; but they are liberties equally homogeneal with the exactness of Mathematical disquisition, and the boldness of Pindaric daring. I have three strong champions to defend me against the attacks of Criticism: the Novelty, the Difficulty, and the Utility of the Work. I may justly plume myself, that I first have drawn the Nymph Mathesis from the visionary caves of Abstracted Idea, and caused her to unite with Harmony. The first-born of this Union I now present to you: with interested motives indeed–as I expect to receive in return the more valuable offspring of your Muse–

Thine ever,

S. T. C.

A Mathematical Problem

This is now–this was erst,
Proposition the first–and Problem the first.

I.
On a given finite Line
Which must no way incline;
To describe an equi–
–lateral Tri–
–A, N, G, L, E.
Now let A. B.
Be the given line
Which must no way incline;
The great Mathematician
Makes this Requisition,
That we describe an Equi–
–lateral Tri–
–angle on it:
Aid us, Reason–aid us, Wit!

II.
From the centre A. at the distance A. B.
Describe the circle B. C. D.
At the distance B. A. from B. the centre
The round A. C. E. to describe boldly venture.
(Third Postulate see.)
And from the point C.
In which the circles make a pother
Cutting and slashing one another,
Bid the straight lines a journeying go,
C. A., C. B. those lines will show.
To the points, which by A. B. are reckon’d,
And postulate the second
For Authority ye know.
A. B. C.
Triumphant shall be
An Equilateral Triangle,
Not Peter Pindar carp, not Zoilus can wrangle.

III.
Because the point A. is the centre
Of the circular B. C. D.
And because the point B. is the centre
Of the circular A. C. E.
A. C. to A. B. and B. C. to B. A.
Harmoniously equal for ever must stay;
Then C. A. and B. C.
Both extend the kind hand
To the basis, A. B.
Unambitiously join’d in Equality’s Band.
But to the same powers, when two powers are equal,
My mind forbodes the sequel;
My mind does some celestial impulse teach,
And equalises each to each.
Thus C. A. with B. C. strikes the same sure alliance,
That C. A. and B. C. had with A. B. before;
And in mutual affiance,
None attempting to soar
Above another,
The unanimous three
C. A. and B. C. and A. B.
All are equal, each to his brother,
Preserving the balance of power so true:
Ah! the like would the proud Autocratorix do!
At taxes impending not Britain would tremble,
Nor Prussia struggle her fear to dissemble;
Nor the Mah’met-sprung Wight,
The great Mussulman
Would stain his Divan
With Urine the soft-flowing daughter of Fright.

IV.
But rein your stallion in, too daring Nine!
Should Empires bloat the scientific line?
Or with dishevell’d hair all madly do ye run
For transport that your task is done?
For done it is–the cause is tried!
And Proposition, gentle Maid,
Who soothly ask’d stern Demonstration’s aid,
Has prov’d her right, and A. B. C.
Of Angles three
Is shown to be of equal side;
And now our weary steed to rest in fine,
‘Tis rais’d upon A. B. the straight, the given line.

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Sorry Miss, the dog ate my homework!

Obviously, SC doesn’t have a dog so he doesn’t have this excuse.homework excuse

But maths homework duly done at the weekend – when I say homework, it was just colouring in – was put careful with said maths book.

OK, so it was the floor in his bedroom, but I digress, I knew where it was…

Cue, for the homework ghosts!

Yesterday I went to his bedroom to get maths book and homework and stick one in the other, but could I find the piece of paper that had been duly coloured? Oh no? The Homework Ghosts had taken it to that mysterious place in the ether where all homework disappears too.

I looked everywhere.

I searched high and low.

I searched through the recycling pile, shredding pile, all the bits of paper in his room. And yes, I did look through his maths book.

Cursing the Homework Ghost, I told him to please put it back.

But could I find it anywhere?

Nope!

ARGH!!!!!!

Thankfully, it was not too onerous a task to re-print off a page, courtesy of PowerPoint and using triangles and circles, within 5 minutes I had re-created the template, of a sort.

This morning when SC woke up he re-coloured in, which took all of 5 minutes. Then I gathered the paper and book and immediately went in search of sellotape to stick the sheet into the book.

And guess what fluttered out of the book as I opened it?

Yup! You’ve got it. The original bit of paper.

ARGH!!!!

I swear to God it was not in that book yesterday – that Homework Ghost played me for a fool … darn him!

Still, at least the original homework could go into the book and I didn’t have to write a note explaining the “Case of the Mysteriously Vanishing Homework”!

It certainly beats the dog eating it anyway 😉

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