Archive for October, 2009

Blog Action Day

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

This year’s Blog Action Day is devoted to the theme of Climate Change and an understanding of mathematics is certainly essential for anyone involved in making making decisions about how to respond to this issue (which in a democracy is presumably all of us).

The choice of Math and Climate as the theme of this year’s Math Awareness Month emphasized this connection, and Murray Bourne at squareCircleZ  today points to a number of articles in which he has used related topics as a source of examples for teaching mathematics.

A good source of background on the science of CO2 related climate change is this excellent history prepared by Spencer Weart at the American Institute of Physics, as is also the RealClimate site managed by a team of well-reputed climate scientists, and the question of how to compare the effectiveness of different policy choices is addressed in this on-line book by UK physicist David McKay (reviewed by theRegister).

The fact that no amount of restraint or conservation can counterbalance the harmful effects of increasing population is not often noted in the CO2 debate so I was a bit disappointed that Murray did not include his discussion of that topic in his list.

FAQ for Universities Interested in WPMu

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Since my institution has started using WPMu for faculty and departmental websites I had better have a look at this from bavatuesdays (which came to me  via Stephen Downes).

xkcd – A Webcomic – Locke and Demosthenes

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

xkcd – A Webcomic – Locke and Demosthenes.

about this

How to remember trig ratios

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Inventing cute mnemonics is fun, and the process of inventing and checking them may help reinforce the definitions, but beyond that they really are useless – and I believe they do more harm than good when people actually try to use them.

It takes much more time (and mental effort) to correctly recall and decode one of  these than anyone who needs to use the terms can afford. And there is a much better way.

Just think ‘Sine is the Side’ or  ‘Cos goes Across’ (we don’t need both)

This takes negligible time to decode, reinforces the concept directly, and is immune to the vagaries of failing memory. (Was that “Odd Aged Teachers Are Happy Campers On Hot Sundays” or “All Old Teachers, Happily Out Camping, Have Amnesia Sometimes “?)