Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Things I don't understand Tuesday

The logic of rock paper scissors

Deal or no Deal

Why the plant in my office is still alive...it gets no sun and very little water

The political nuances of the Middle East (or the basics actually if I'm being realistic)

Why people listen to Mahler

Australia's Funniest Home Videos

Ballet

the ABC Finance report in the 7pm news

why I forgot my usb and book today

anything beyond the basics of Maths (eg. mysterious terms like sin, cos, tan etc)

My growing fascination with naming days of the week

If anyone has any explanations that will help me feel free to chime in.

8 comments:

djfoobarmatt said...

Ok, just say you're holding a torch at your arms length and spinning round and round at a constant rate. If someone then looks at you, they see the torch moving from side to side and the way that it goes slow at the sides and fast in the middle is described by a sin function x = sin(t) where t is the time since you started spinning and x is how far from your centre the torch appears to be. (It gets worse when you start to think about what t is measured in since you need to put some pi's in there and also multiply the sin() by the length of your arms etc... The overall concept is that you use just the word 'sin' to describe a lot of complex stuff. In music, if I said it's a C scale at 186 bpm and four octaves, you could play it even though I didn't tell you each individual note and when to play it. The beauty of maths is that at least there is logic. Nobody understands the ABC finance report. Hope that helps.

Wendy said...

Hey thanks!! Why don't I remember my maths teacher explaining it in that way? Or indeed, ever explaining it. Although I'm not convinced that I would ever hold a torch at arm's length and spin around I can see the logic of your explanation and imagine it's a useful thing to be able to work out similar problems in real life situations.
good music analogy...that I understand!!!
What always confused me was that there is a story that students who were good at maths would also be good at music...that was never the case for me! Yet, I can usually see the logic and patterns in music and try and get this across to my students. Perhaps I just didn't have good maths teachers!

I'm glad I'm not the only one mystified by the finance report...

Catriona said...

I never understood the good at music = good at maths argument, either. Mind, I'm appalling at both of them (I am literally a one-trick pony), but it's a standard in Enid Blyton school stories, for example: at both Malory Towers and St Clare's, the musical geniuses are also excellent mathematicians.

So I still don't understand your explanation, Djfoobarmatt, but at least I have an amusing mental image.

Wendy said...

My problem is always that I can understand these things in theory...but there's no way (in maths anyway) that I'm able to put them into practice. big concepts fine...practical small details...no idea! And I don't ever remember maths at school being taught in terms of "concepts" when it seems that this is what it is all about? No? i just remember lots of boring repetitive exercises that I could never see the point of.

For the life of me I can't remember who the musical geniuses were at Malory Towers or St Clare's
Help?

Catriona said...

At Malory Towers it was Irene, who was a scatterbrain. At least, that's how she was always described.

I'm wondering now whether the same pattern applied in St Clare's or whether I simply made that up because the books are otherwise identical. (There was a genius painter at St Clare's, Lucy, which may have triggered the association, since Irene's best friend Belinda was a genius at drawing and painting.)

There was, at St Clare's, Felicity, who was a musical prodigy whose parents pushed her so far she had a breakdown. But I can't remember now whether she was a maths genius, as well.

Wendy said...

Oh now i do remember Irene the "scatterbrain" and her friend Belinda ...but I don't think I read the St Clare's books more than once (they didn't appeal as much as Malory Towers for some reason) so don't really remember Felicity - but she sounds like a sad and unfortunate character, for Blyton to include

Sue said...

Regarding the maths/music ability, my piano teacher always accused me of being too mathematical in my approach to music... I was apparently much better at playing the orderly baroque music and incapable of being expressive enough (i.e. less mathematical) for playing romantic stuff well enough for exams. So I am one exception to your rule/theory(assuming, in fact, that I am at least relatively competent at maths)... :)

Wendy said...

let's take the assumption that you are reasonably competent at maths as read given the phd in the mystifying discipline of statistics!

and you see I might be further up the continuum as never loved learning the orderly intricacies of fugues etc but liked the drama of beethoven, chopin onwards?
hmmm...are we like mythbusters re this whole maths music thing?