Saturday, October 13, 2007

history of mathematics

I've been a notoriously bad student as of late and tonight I am paying for my bad habits and over-scheduled life. I've just spent the last 5 hours or so researching the history of mathematics and various mathematicians for a portfolio that is required for me to get my teaching certificate. It's a real bitch. Granted, most of it is pretty damn interesting, but I really should have started this research a month ago instead of two days before the project is due. As of this blog post, I am approximately two-thirds of the way through this monster but I still don't understand what the hell Bernoulli numbers have to do with anything.


Ray said...

If the grant proposal is being judged by math geeks, just write some "blah blah Reimann zeta function yada yada large primes" bullshit and be done with it.

If it's being read by mere mortals, you could just ignore Bernoulli numbers and instead talk about probability and the theory of large numbers and why gambling is stupid, since that's some Bernoulli the man on the street could really use.

Or you could *really* go out on a limb and pick a different Bernoulli entirely and explain how airplane wings work.

Somewhere in my stack of crap I have a good book on the history of mathematics which explains all this stuff in layman's terms, but I'm not sure I've seen it since the move. If I find it you can certainly borrow it.

From a comp sci geek perspective, the most fun mathematicians are Goedel and Turing; have you got good stuff for them?

Ray said...

Found it!

_The Mathematical Universe_ by William Dunham. Let me know how and where and I can deliver it to you.

Not only does he go on at great length about the various feats of Bernoulli, he also makes clear that the guy was an egotistical prick even when he was proven wrong. I'm not sure if you can write "egotistical prick" in a grant proposal, but it certainly would differentiate you from the pack.

Leigh C. said...

Or, if worse comes to worse, I can run you in for a crash course with my husband the sadistics...uhhh...statistics man.