Some thinking aloud about what’s happening on social media in my world, I hope you don’t mind.
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On 5th October 2010, eight years ago this week, I sent a tweet from a Twitter account I had registered on behalf of the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM). I was on BSHM Council at the time and, mindful of the Society’s charitable aim to develop awareness of the history of mathematics for the public benefit, I proposed starting a Twitter account. I thought a good way to generate a background level of activity for the account was to tweet a daily mathematician, taking my lead from the MacTutor website facility. So I set up @mathshistory and sent the first tweet, announcing the anniversary of the birth of Bernard Bolzano.
Bernard Bolzano (1781 – 1848) worked to "free calculus from the concept of the infinitesimal" and was born on 5 Oct http://bit.ly/9TV331
— Maths History (@mathshistory) October 5, 2010
Remember when we used to do a regular Follow Friday post, recommending mathematically interesting Twitter accounts? Well, this is like that, only not hugely regular. Enjoy it while it lasts!
In an idle moment of wondering, I asked a simple question on Twitter:
What’s everyone’s favourite fictional mathematician?
— Katie Steckles (@stecks) November 10, 2014
The response was overwhelming. Here’s a guide to the non-existent number crunchers you should know about, and some you probably already do.
You may have seen an article linked to last week, written by Jordan Weissmann at The Atlantic. The article was titled ‘Here’s How Little Math Americans Actually Use At Work‘, although mysteriously this journalist makes use of some mathematical analysis of survey data, and not only that, the data appears to show that 94% of Americans claim to use mathematics as part of their daily job.
The article discusses people’s misconceptions about the future utility of what they were learning, as well as the divide between using ‘any math’ and ‘advanced math’, which includes calculus, algebra and statistics. The number of Americans who admitted to using this type of maths appears to drop off once you get to anything more complicated than fractions, and also presented is an analysis of this divide by job type.
A very well-written and thoughtful response to this has already been posted at mathematics professor Bret Benesh’s blog, which gives four reasons why the article annoyed him (and probably several other people too).
It’s Friday again! And with a seamless unbroken chain of Follow Friday posts stretching backward through time with no discernible gap, here’s another post with some recommendations of people to follow on Twitter if you’re into maths.
Matt Parker, the internet’s own number ninja, has tweeted the following maths nugget:
Type any number into a calculator and then divide it by 7, 11 and 13. Why do the first six decimal places always sum to 27? #mathspuzzle
— Matt Parker (@standupmaths) November 12, 2012