|OFF ON A TANGENT
|A Fortnightly Electronic Newsletter from the Hope
College Department of Mathematics
|January 19, 2005
||Vol. 3, No. 8
colloquium sure to be a hit!
- When: Thursday, January 20 at 4:00 p.m.
- Where: Vander Werf, Room 104
How likely is it that Sammy Sosa hits a home run when Roger Clemens is
pitching? Or strikes out? Or walks? Sosa is a good hitter,
but Clemens is a good pitcher. Sosa hits a lot of home runs, but
Clemens doesn’t give up many. Sosa strikes out a lot and Clemens
strikes out a lot of hitters, so, perhaps Sosa is likely to strike
out. Answers to questions such as these go into constructing a
simulation model of baseball.
In tomorrow's colloquium, Professor Mike Stob from Calvin College will
look at some historical models of the batter-pitcher match up (yes,
there is a history!) and develop a “modern” mathematical model to
answer these questions. The title of his talk is “Simulating
Baseball” and will take place in VWF 104 at 4:00 tomorrow.
Tea and goodies will be served in VWF 222 before the colloquium at from
3:30 to 4:00 p.m.
Next week's colloquium promises to be strange
- When: Thursday, January 27 at 4:00 p.m.
- Where: Vander Werf, Room 104
Next week's colloquium will be presented by Prof. Steve Schlicker from
Grand Valley State University. He will talk about "The Strange
World of the Hausdorff Metric Geometry." This talk will be an
introduction to the Hausdorff metric geometry. The "points" in this
geometry are sets---that is they can represent actual physical objects.
For four of the last five summers, students in the REU program at GVSU
have been researching the properties of this geometry. They have
discovered that lines and segments in this geometry exhibit some
unexpected and rather odd behavior. In this talk he will introduce line
segments with infinitely many and finitely many (greater than
1) points at each location, see connections with this geometry to the
Fibonacci and Lucas numbers, learn a fascinating property of the number
19, and other oddities.
Tea and goodies will again be served in VWF 222 before the colloquium
at from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m.
Mathematical Contest in Modeling to take place next month
The Mathematical Contest in Modeling is an international competition in
which teams of two or three students produce a solution to an
open-ended, real world, mathematical modeling problem. The competition
takes place over a long weekend. The problems are announced on a
Thursday evening, and the completed solution is due on the following
Monday evening. Over the course of the weekend, the competitors pick
one of the three announced problems, then research the situation and
prepare a solution. For students interested in applied mathematics,
this is a great opportunity to see what mathematical modeling is like.
Traditionally, students from small liberal arts colleges, such as Hope,
have done well in this competition. The reason for this is that, in
addition to doing the mathematics, each problem requires the solution
to communicate the findings to a non-mathematical audience in some way.
More information is available at http://www.comap.com/undergraduate/contests/mcm/.
In addition to information about this contest, you can link to previous
contest questions at this site.
This year the competition will take place from 8 p.m. on Thursday,
February 3 through 8 p.m. on Monday, February 7. If you are interested
in getting more information or competing, please contact Prof. Cinzori
(firstname.lastname@example.org.) The deadline for applications is 2:00 p.m. on
Math in Action Conference set for
For those of you interested in mathematics education, the Math in
Action Conference next month gives you an opportunity to hear
professors and teachers from the area talk about different mathematical
topics that are applicable to those in K-12 education. The
conference is schedule from 8:40 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday,
February 24 at the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University in
Grand Rapids. This year's theme is "Assessment Through Algebra
and Number: Utilizing Multiple Benchmarks."
The plenary speaker is Dr. Edward Roeber of the Michigan Department
of Education. In his presentation, Dr. Roeber will focus on impending
changes in the MEAP program, the MI-Access program for the assessment
of students with disabilities, and school accountability through such
programs as No Child Left Behind and Michigan's Education YES!
There are more than 30 other sessions to attend with topics like "The
Tortoise and the Hare: Discovering Slope," "The Crazy Universe where
Math and Art Collide," and "What's your Angle?"
Prof. Mary DeYoung has conference brochures available outside her
office (209 VWF). They are also available online at http://www.gvsu.edu/math/MathInAction/.
The mathematics department will pay the registration fee for those
attending and transportation will be available. You simply need
to fill out a registration form that is in the conference brochure and
return it to Prof. DeYoung by February 7.
you do with
a math major?
You like mathematics, but aren't interested in teaching. You
might think there is not much else you can do with a math major.
How about solving crimes? You can do that if your are Charlie
Epps (mathematical genius) who helps out his FBI Special Agent brother
on Sunday's from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m. EDT on
CBS. The show is called NUMB3RS and it sounds 1NT3R3ST1NG.
In next week's episode, Charlie uses a mathematical equation to
identify the killer's point of origin by working back from the crime
scene locations. (This is kind of like how you did your
homework in calculus by looking at the answer in the back of the book
and figuring out the solution.) You can check out the show's
web site at http://www.cbs.com/primetime/numb3rs/.
In the real world, you can actually do a lot with a math major
besides teach. Check out http://www.math.hope.edu/links/careers.htm for information about other career
options for those majoring in mathematics.
Faith under Fire is a weekly TV show hosted by Lee Strobel (see www.faithunderfire.com)
that includes debate on such topics as:
- Are there moral absolutes?
- Can atheists be moral?
- Should same-sex marriage be legalized?
- Should Intelligent Design be taught in public schools?
If you would like to be part of a bimonthly Sunday morning (10:30
a.m. to noon) discussion group that listens to the program and then
discusses the topics over bagels and hot chocolate at my home, contact
Tim Pennings at email@example.com. I'll form a distribution list
of interested students and send invitations via email. No obligation.
Let me know if you'd like your name to be on the list.
Google adds calculator feature
We all know that Google can help you find out who Felix Hausdorff
was and that Froogle will help you find the appropriate driver's side
mirror for your 1997 Ford Escort. But did you know that Google
also is a calculator. To use Google's built-in calculator
function, simply enter your calculation into the search box and
enter. The calculator can do basic arithmetic, evaluate
trigonometric functions, determine physical constants, and will even
give you appropriate units of measure and do conversions. For
more information visit http://www.google.com/help/features.html#calculator.
Congratulations to Sommer Amundsen, Daniela Banu, Jim Boerkoel, Aaron
Cinzori, Meg Estochen, Melissa Gifford, Henry Gould, Jamie Lajiness,
Malinda Lasater, Sean Thurmer, David Visser and Emily Wandell for
Problem Solvers of the Fortnight
1 - 1/2 + 1/3 - 1/4 + ... + 1/2003 - 1/2004 = 1/1003 + 1/1004 + ... +
(Dr. Cinzori's clever poem of near-epic proportions is posted outside
his office for your amusement and edification.) Problem solvers
are invited to stop by Dr. Pearson's office (VWF 212) to claim their
Problem of the
We received a request for a problem in three-dimensional coordinate
geometry to start off the new year. At "Off on a Tangent," we aim
please, so here goes. . . .
The two lines
L1(t) = <4, -5, 1> +
t<2, 4, -3>
L2(s) = <2, -1, 0> + s<1, 3, 2>
in three-dimensional space are skew: that is, they are not parallel and
do not intersect. Find the distance between L1 and L2.
Affix your solution to the end of a barbecue skewer (it's never too
early to think about summer!) and drop it in the "Problem of the
Fortnight" slot outside Dr. Pearson's office (VWF 212) by 3:00 on
Friday, January 28. As always, authors of correct solutions will
announced in the next issue of "Off on a Tangent" and will receive a
calorific treat for their efforts.
Mathography: Theodor Kaluza (1885 - 1954)
Our featured mathematician this issue is Theodor Kaluza, a contemporary
of Albert Einstein. Kaluza was a German mathematician who
training at the University of Koenigsberg and later became a
Privatdozent there. Kaluza's interests drew him toward a study of
mathematical physics, and his most famous result in this area was a
unification of Einstein's theory of gravity and Maxwell's theory of
light. His ideas involved the introduction of a fifth dimension,
while initially a hot topic of research, they later fell into the
background with the introduction of quantum mechanics. Einstein
champion of Kaluza's ideas, but despite Einstein's support, Kaluza was
not promoted from Privatdozent to professor until 20 years after his
initial appointment. Kaluza died on January 19, 1954.
Kaluza's ideas have once again received some attention in string
theory. Kaluza is mentioned in "The Elegant Universe," a NOVA
about string theory that is available in Van Wylen Library (QC794.6.S85
G75 2003) and online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/.
more about string theory please visit http://superstringtheory.com/ and
to learn more about Kaluza himself please see
||Got a Math Question?
Ask Elvis ...
... email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey there humans,
I had a great Christmas break. Since I didn't have to come into
the office, I had lots of time to sleep, eat, and play. Of course
the most interesting thing about Christmas is all the new smells that
are around---new smelly people to meet, trees indoors, and lots of
food. It doesn't get any better than that! Speaking
of smells, did you hear about the research done with dogs ability to
detect cancer. It was on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago.
You can check it out online at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/01/06/60minutes/main665263.shtml.
As you can see by my picture, I am resting. That means I did not
receive any questions since the last newsletter. Well a new
semester has begun and I am ready to get back to work. Send me an
email me with any math questions you might have at
email@example.com. I or one of my human colleagues will do our best
to answer it.
Take care and keep warm!
only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at