Off on a Tangent
A Fortnightly Electronic Newsletter from the Hope College Department of Mathematics
January 20, 2017 Vol. 15, No. 7

Students present at Joint Mathematics Meetings

Sarah Petersen and Alli VanderStoep both presented posters at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta, GA in early January.  Sarah's poster was titled, "Modeling Pioneer Plant Populations in the Monteverde Cloud Forest" and is based off research she did with Prof. Brian Yurk. Alli's poster was titled, "One bird, two birds? Red bird, blue bird? Analyzing bird songs using wavelets, image processing, and neural networks" and was based of research she completed with Taylor Rink and Prof. Paul Pearson.

While in Atlanta, they also visited the World of Coca Cola (on the left they are shown sharing a Coke and a smile).

Below are pictures of Sarah (on the left) and Alli (in the middle) standing in front of their posters. 

 Math in the News: The Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers are a legendary team in professional football (and will be playing for the NFC championship this Sunday). They won the first two Super Bowls and the Super Bowl trophy is named for Vince Lombardi, the Packers coach for those first two Super Bowl wins. With success like that, we didn't have to look to far too find some math in the news related to the Packers.

The first article comes from Blythe Terrell whose hometown St. Louis Rams moved to Los Angeles and found he was without a team to cheer for. So he developed a model that included things he cared about in a team, plugged in the numbers, and was matched with the Green Bay Packers. Seems like a good choice. You can read more about this at FiveThirtyEight.

The other two articles discuss the Packer's quarterback, Aaron Rogers, and his ability to complete what is called a "Hail Mary" pass and the mathematics behind it. You can read about this at the Packer Report and actually get some equations at Cheese Head TV.

Upcoming Colloquia

The mathematics colloquium team is hard at work building the colloquium schedule for the semester. There are a couple already scheduled in February with more to follow. Look for updates and specifics in the next edition of Off on a Tangent.

Problem of the Fortnight

"Hi, Vectoria!"
Looking up from her table at Van Wylen, Vectoria says, "Oh, hi, Double M.  You seem chipper."
"Well, I had a great Christmas break.  I got caught up on some sleep over the holidays, and I'm feeling rejuvenated at the start of this new semester."
"Hey, that's great. . . ."  Vectoria's voice trails off as she turns her attention back to the papers strewn out on the table before her.

"What are you looking at, Vectoria?"
"Oh, it's this problem I've been thinking about off and on for the past day or two.  The other day as I was sitting in the chapel, I looked up at a stained glass window, and an interesting shape caught my attention.  It was a square, probably 2-ft on each side.  Two quarter circles, centered at the lower vertices of the square, intersected each other to form something like this," said Vectoria, as she showed Math Man the picture she had drawn:

"Wow, you draw really neat pictures, Vectoria!"
"Thanks, M's.  What I was wondering," Vectoria continued, "was whether I could find the areas of the smaller regions in the square."
"Hmmm. . . .  Which region in particular?"
"Oh, I don't know.  Any of them, I suppose.  I think once you found one, you could probably get the others."
"Yeah, maybe you're right. . . .  It's kind of a cool problem.  Can I work on it with you?"
"Sure!  Which region should we tackle first, Double M?"
"How about ABE?"

Help Vectoria and Math Man find the area of region ABE.  Write your solution on a square piece of paper, explaining your ideas carefully and writing your solution clearly, and drop it in the Problem of the Fortnight slot outside Professor Mark Pearson's office (Vander Werf 212) by 3:00 on Friday, January 28.  As always, be sure to write your name and the name(s) of your math professor(s) -- e.g. Carrie DaWonne, Professors von den Too and Tree -- on your solution.  Good luck and have fun!

It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up.

Vince Lombardi

Off on a Tangent