Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rediscovering Math

      I just finished my first reading of Steven Strogatz's book The Joy of X:   A Guided Tour of Math From One to Infinity.   As an engineering academic I studied a lot of mathematics.   For the most part I did very well in most of the courses.  I certainly learned enough to  answer the test questions.  However, after reading Strogatz's book I have discovered I missed a lot of the essence of mathematics.  What I did learn were the techniques and procedures that enabled me to solve engineering problems without really appreciating the beauty of mathematics.   His book has opened a whole new appreciation of not only the beauty of mathematics but also the broad scope of how mathematics effects our everyday lives.   Mathematics is not only a element of engineering practice, but it is an underpinning for medicine, finance, transportation, biology, and you name it.   Even though this book is written for the general public to enjoy,  I find my ability to fully understand the underlying concepts to be challenged.  
     I am planning a second reading before I pass this book on to my "mathy" friends.   Since this is primarily a geezer skiers blog, I will be looking for math applications to the sport of skiing in my second read.   Perhaps I need to calculate the highest speed I will attain schussing the steepest slope at my local ski area.  Or perhaps I will need to compute the mean coffee break time as a function of the quality of the snow conditions for the day.   And even more perhaps I should calculated the number of permutations of different geezer pairs riding together on the ski lift as a function of the number of geezers present.   Oh the wonder of mathematics.   Thanks Steve for opening my mind to new possibilities.

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