28 February 2010

My phone has a character limit!

Hence my rather abrupt need to split this post into parts. Please note
that,as I've mentioned, the reason I'm using email to update is that
Blogger loads very slowly on my phone. So if you comment here, I won't
see it for a while. I'm not discouraging comments, I'm just saying
talk amongst yourselves. If you want to talk to ME, email is the way
to go.

That's the name of a book by E.T. Bell in 1936 I just finished, and I
highly recommend it to anyone teaching a math curriculum based on the
French model. It highlights the major advances in math from Zeno up to
Cantor, and it's fascinating to find how strong a historical (if not
pedagogical) basis our curriculum has.

Not just because I've read the book. Not even because it makes me want
to study advanced math. I'm a nerd because I've spent several
delightful mornings trying to independently prove Fermat's Theorem*,
as well as solve one or two geometric puzzlers.
*Not Fermat's LAST Theorem (x^n + y^n = z^n has no integer solutions
for n>2), which I suspect requires something akin to algebraic
numbers, well beyond my capabilities. Fermat's Theorem** is for any
whole number n and any prime p, the result of (n^p - n) is divisible
by p.
**Please don't tell me the solution, I'm wholly aware that Leibniz
solved it centuries ago. The point is that it requires no advanced
mathematical knowledge, and I want to see if I can do it.

Character limit again. Obviously I need to either update even more
frequently or learn to be more concise. That's not true. I CAN be more
concise-if college teaches you how to turn a one page concept into a
10 page essay, grad school teaches the much more difficult skill of
reducing 10 pages of work into a 1 page summary. But that's not really
the point of a journal, is it?

To be continued...again...

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