Summer Odds and Ends

I promise I’ll start blogging again. But as followers of this blog might know, I like to take the summer off–both from teaching and blogging. I never take a break from math, though. Here are some fun things I’ve seen recently. Consider it my own little math carnival :-).

I love this comic, especially as I start my stat grad class this semester @ JHU. After this class, I’ll be half-way done with my masters. It’s a long road! [ht: Tim Chase]

Speaking of statistics, my brother also sent me this great list of lottery probabilities. Could be very useful in the classroom.

These math dice. Honestly I don’t know what I’d do with them, but you have to admit they’re awesome. [ht: Tim Chase]

These two articles about Khan academy and the other about edX I found very interesting. File all of them under ‘flipping the classroom.’ I’m still working up the strength to do a LITTLE flipping with my classroom. My dad forwarded these links to me. He has special interest in all things related to MIT (like Khan, and like edX) since it’s his alma mater.

I’ll be teaching BC Calculus for the first time this semester and we’re using a new book, so I read that this summer. Not much to say, except that I did actually enjoy reading it.

I also started a fabulous book, Fearless Symmetry by Avner Ash and Robert Gross. I have a bookmark in it half way through. But I already recommend it highly to anyone who has already had some college math courses. I just took a graduate course in Abstract Algebra recently and it has been a great way to tie the ‘big ideas’ in math together with what I just learned. The content is very deep but the tone is conversational and non-threatening. (My dad, who bought me the book, warns me that it gets painfully deep toward the end, however. That’s to be expected though, since the authors attempt to explain Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem!)

I had this paper on a juggling zeta function (!) sent to me by the author, Dr. Dominic Klyve (Central Washington University). I read it, and I pretended to understand all of it. I love the intersection of math and juggling, and I’m always on the look out for new developments in the field.

And most recently, I’ve been having a very active conversation with my math friends about the following problem posted to NCTM’s facebook page:

Feel free to go over to their facebook page and join the conversation. It’s still happening right now. There’s a lot to say about this problem, so I may devote more time to this problem later (and problems like it). At the very least, you should try doing the problem yourself!

I also highly recommend this post from Bon at Math Four on why math course prerequisites are over-rated. It goes along with something we all know: learning math isn’t as ‘linear’ an experience as we make it sometimes seem in our American classrooms.

And of course, if you haven’t yet checked out the 90th Carnival of Mathematics posted over at Walking Randomly (love the name!), you must do so. As usual, it’s a thorough summary of recent quality posts from the math blogging community.

Okay, that’s all for now. Thanks for letting me take a little random walk!

Awesome Math Baby Gear

Here is some awesome baby gear that you’ll get a kick out of, whether you have a little baby (like I do) or not. [ht: Carrie Gaffney]

Check out this one, for instance, perfect for the little Fermat in your life:

Or this one, with a slightly more ‘physics’ flavor–perfect for your little one that is constantly gaining momentum:

For the baby that’s two standard deviations above the mean:

Or how about this …

And here are some more for you:

By the way, the perfect place to collect random photos and other things you love is on Pinterest. I’ve been collecting pins for the last year or so, and you may want to check out these two boards of mine, at least:

Happy pinning!

Wolfram’s Life Data

If you haven’t yet checked out Stephen Wolfram’s blog post from March 8th, you absolutely need to. I was impressed with how many categories of data he kept, not just his presentation and analysis of it. He analyzed his email, walking, phone time, keystrokes, and calendar events. And he did this for all of the last decade! Wow. Here are his averages from over that time, shown against the hours in the day.

This was also a nice chance for him to advertise the incredible power of all of his software!

As for email, you can do an analysis on your gmail account from the past year by using this free utility from toutapp.com. I did it and really enjoyed seeing who my top contacts were, learning that I reply to 18% of the emails I receive, and that 47% of the emails I send get responses. Each month on average I received 240 emails and sent 69 emails. And in 2011, I had to deal with a total of 3299 emails. All of this is just in my personal email account, too! I have two other email accounts as well. Go get your analysis!

7 billion

Looks like by all accounts, there are now 7 billion people in the world today. At least that’s what wikipedia says. Here are two blog posts on the subject from the math blogging community. I have to say, I was surprised to see that wolframalpha doesn’t know anything about this important event (I’m sure it won’t be the last time alpha disappoints me). Anyway, I hope everyone feels humbled to be just one of the crowd.

And, happy birthday to Karl Weierstrass!