Monday, November 10, 2008

Ah, the good old Dark Ages...

As I sat through a droll college algebra class in the dark hours of the early morning I drifted in and out of the edge of consciousness. In one of my weaker, conscious moments, I heard my instructor spit out another one of those math teacher classics, a "real life" application.

Any math teacher worth his salt has used one. It must be some secret cardinal rule that every math instructor should come up with ridiculous, far fetched ways for his students to apply what they learn in the class room in real life. Sometimes an exponential something or another equation can help you to find out what rate your coffee cools at in a cold room. That's ridiculous. Drink it while it's hot. That's all you need to know.

Really, there's hundreds of applicable but ridiculous and time consuming uses for math for the not-mathematically-motivated people of the world, like myself. I'm going to college for a fine arts degree and an english degree. I don't need a whole lot of math. I think the highest level of math required for a college student in a non-scientific degree should be geometry and algebra 2.

For some reason or another, the application my teacher told us in my brief moment of consciousness struck me as particularly funny. We could use what we were learning today to find the trajectory if we fired a missile. If I fired a missile? Sure, it happens all the time! I smiled a little bit, into the face of this cruel irony. Why in all of God's green earth would I be allowed to or even want to fire a missile?

The most I'm going to use the little math I need to know is to budget my paycheck in order to have enough for groceries after I pay my bills. And that budget is laughably small (being a starving artist and all). I certainly don't need higher math to figure it out.

Math may be behind the whole of the physical universe. I will still regard it as magic, and the mathe-magicians should be glad we don't still burn them at the stake, like they did in the good old dark ages.

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