Tag Archives | Math

Ben’s Math Education Response in Terms of Carts & Horses *AWESOME REMIX*

Another in our series of Ben’s ramblings Patented Wisdom BOLTS that didn’t make it to air! This week Chad asked us about our thoughts on math education, and Ben had things to say. We were running long I Didn’t want the reader’s ears to explode with wisdom so I didn’t read it, but I’ve posted Chad’s question here followed by Ben’s response. It’s interesting stuff from the newly minted PhD and teacher  the prophet of thunder, so hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did. And make sure you listen to the full episode from this Ep 110 – Back to School!

-Ryan (with edits by Ben)

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R you ready for this? Statistics for free!

If you’ve listened to the show for a while or if you’ve been reading the paleocave blog from the beginning (like when we actually used to update it regularly), then you might know that I’m rather fascinated with statistics. Imagine my delight a few years ago when I found out that one of the most powerful statistical tools available (the one that most of the cool kids use) was available for free! That tool is called R.  It’s a great tool but a terrible name.  R is named both for the developers Robert Gentleman and Ross Ihaka (Robert and Ross), and as a sort of pun because it was an open source rewrite of the S language. That’s cool, I guess, but R as a name is horrible search engine optimization. Oh well, keeps out the riff-raff I suppose.

The vast majority of people would call R a programming language. Real computer programmers (the kind of people that argue about Ruby vs Perl) will tell you it’s not really a ‘language,’ it’s a ‘programming environment.’ Whatever, I don’t think I really know the difference.  Don’t get intimidated, because it’s pretty easy to do as much or as little as you want in R.
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The Work-Energy Theorem -Or- “Jacob starts writing about actual Science, again…”

Welcome back to the grind, PaleoPosse!  Did you have a good Thanksgiving vacation?  I sure hope so, because today I’m going to flex your brain muscle and attempt to teach you some REAL science: PHYSICS.  Not that mushy, gushy “biology” and “paleontology” pseudo-science that Ryan and Patrick peddle.

Microbes ain't got SHIT on me

AND if you stick through it all the way to the end, there’s a prize in store for somebody!!!

But enough of that, today I’m going to teach you about the Work-Energy Theorem.  Otherwise known as, “Everything they tried to teach you in high school physics.”

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You’re on a road trip with your buddies and your iPod is the one churning out the tunes, when a Captain and Tenille song comes on.  The guy riding shot gun shoots you a look and skips to the next song.  After that one finishes, there they are again, “Do that to Me One More Time” is killing the good vibes in the car. Skip.  Then, of all things, “Muskrat Love” comes on? “Dude, how much Captain and Tennille do you have on your iPod?”  Turns out you only have a greatest hits album and you have something like 8 days worth of other music on that Jobsian box.  Clearly the iPod can’t generate a random playlist worth a damn.

Noise, chance, whatever you want to call it.  Often times people misunderstand what randomness actually is.   Randomness is a sequence of things such that there is no intelligible pattern or combination.  The problem is we expect that random means that things will be equally spaced out or that there will be “no coincidences.”    In fact, one of the ways you know your are looking at randomness is that there will be repetition or related items in the list.
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How the Mayor Will Save You in a Zombie Apocalypse (by reminding you to stay at work)

florida lottery

Hello everyone. Welcome to my first blog post. Today is a silly day, and since it is still zombie awareness month , I’ve decided to present some of my own silly fiction-science research on zombies. Specifically, zombie epidemic mathematics.

Thanks, google image search!

Epidemic Mathematics
Okay, so there are real people out there studying real epidemics using mathematics; and as it happens, modeling an epidemic can be fairly straightforward (you know, like assembling a sky scraper, or running a factory). Let me do a thought experiment with you do demonstrate how it can be done.

Suppose that there are four people moving about randomly (once an hour) inside of a four room house, and one of them has the flu. The odds that a healthy person will meet the sick dude are 1/4. Suppose that, should you get stuck in the same room with the sick dude, the odds of contracting the flu are 1/7. Then the overall odds of catching the flu (by getting caught in the sick room, and then contracting the illness) are 1/(7*4)=1/28. Thus, the number of people who will get sick each hour will be 3/28. Alternatively, I could say that it will take about 10 hours for ONE PERSON to contract the flu. After that, there will be two sick people and two healthy people wandering through the claustrophobic little house.

Follow that?! Then you’ve just taken a baby step toward being able to model an epidemic. Its a helpful and noble field of mathematics. Of course, I’m a physicist, and neither helpful nor noble. So I chose to model a stupid ZOMBIE epidemic.

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