This Day in Mathematics
History . . .
On February 14,
Leopold Landau and Johanna Jacoby were given the Valentine's Day gift
of a son, Edmund. Young Edmund demonstrated a precocity that
presaged his mathematics career: according to legend, his mother had
once left an umbrella in a carriage, and it was quickly recovered when
3-year-old Edmund informed her that she had left it in carriage
#354. He would go on to become one of the leading number
theorists of his day.
Landau's career brought him into contact with some of the greatest
mathematicians of his era. His doctoral work was supervised by
Frobenius, and when he was appointed to a professorate in
Göttingen, he replaced Minkowski, and his colleagues there were
Hilbert, Klein, Carathèodory, Hecke and Courant. Somewhat
persnickety and rather arrogant, Landau had a tendency to annoy
colleagues and students alike. In fact, Teichmüller, who
would later become a famous mathematician in his own right, once
organized a boycott of Landau's lectures! As a result, Landau
retired from the university and lectured in Europe before dying of a
heart attack less than a year after the boycott.
To read more about Landau, please visit http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Landau.html
Problem of the
Since this is the
Valentine's Day edition of Off on a
, we thought we'd stick with the theme. And nothing
Valentine's Day like a cardioid . . . at least to a
Find the area of the region between the inner and outer loops of the
= 1 - 2 sin
(θ). The cardioid is shown at right.
Write your solution on the back of an old Valentine and drop it (along
with a box of chocolates) in the Problem of the Fortnight slot outside
Dr. Pearson's office (VWF 212) by 3:00 pm on February 23. As
always, please be sure to include your name, your math class(es) and
the name(s) of your professor(s) -- e.g. Karl DeOid, Math 214,
Professor Valerie N. Tyne -- on your solution.
Solvers of the Fortnight
Congratulations to Brian McClellan and Dan DeHaan for solving the
problem of the fortnight of the last issue. The problem is
actually a very famous one, known as the Buffon Needle problem, but we
supplied sufficient (and perhaps necessary) obfuscations. If a 1
cm pencil lead is dropped randomly on a piece of ruled paper where the
lines are 1 cm apart, the probability that the pencil lead will
intersect a line is 2/π . For a complete solution, please see
Buffon Needle problem offers a neat probabilistic method for
determining the value of π experimentally. Of course, there
have been many ingenious variations on the theme of the Buffon Needle
the years. Dan Lithio sent us one we enjoyed a great deal (please
details); it involves throwing frozen hot dogs onto a lined plastic
Math Teaching Opportunity in
50-Cent Book Sale!
The 50-cent math book sale
VWF 222 to look at the available books, and when you find one,
$0.50 in the math department office. What a deal!
Once again, this letter from one of our graduates:
My name is Kyle Williams and I graduated from Hope in May of
2006. I am currently working as a math teacher in a private
elementary school called Centro Educativo Amauta, located in the
outskirts of Loja, Ecuador, a city of approximately 150,000 in the
Andes mountains in the south of the country. I am writing
to ask for your assistance in finding someone to replace me here in the
coming academic year. I would eventually like to establish an
exchange program between Hope and Amauta so that each year a recent
graduate would come down here and teach and have the experience of
living in a foreign country and perfecting their Spanish.
The school here and the whole country are truly wonderful and magical -
it is definitely a worthwhile experience.
The school is unique in Loja (and one of only a few in all of Ecuador)
for its use of a pedagogical philosophy based on the work of Piaget and
the theory of constructivism (this is in spite of the rather
conservative educational philosophy of the government
here). It is a very progressive and dynamic education and I
have learned so much in my time here. There are a total of 55
children in the school in 9 groups that cover a range from kindergarten
to about 5th grade. I only work with the older kids which
ends up being about 35 students in 6 groups. Thus, I am in direct
contact with each and every student every day and am able to give lots
of individual attention.
As for compensation,
the school provides me with a place to live (a beautiful little house
here in the mountains), two meals a day, and an additional $150 a
month, which is more than enough to live and do a little traveling
here. The school year here starts mid-September. For more
information about my experience, I have a website with all my journals
and photos at http://www.bluedoorproject.com/kw
We are looking for someone who has had experience with children and is
willing to learn and work with a somewhat original educational
system.. They should also have a decent amount of
experience in Spanish as all teaching is in Spanish. In addition,
as the position is that of a math teacher, they should have at least
enough math background to be comfortable teaching up to 6th grade level
math – fractions, decimals, multiplication, division, etc.
I would be very grateful if you could share this email with your
students and have any interested parties contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the
position. Thanks in advance for your collaboration in this
little project of mine.