Tag: mathematics

The case for accidental politicians

[podcast]https://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/upLoads//2011/03/Accidental-Politicians.mp3[/podcast] Canada is about to enter a federal election campaign, and you know what that means. Platforms, proclamations, partisanship, preening, pretending, pandering and pestering, not to mention politicians on your porch. It’s enough to make you tired, but at least here that knock on the door is a smiling politician and not the secret police. …

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The mathematics of pizza slicing

[podcast]https://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/upLoads//2009/12/Pizza-Slicing.mp3[/podcast] It’s almost Christmas, and Christmas means food: turkey, dressing, candy canes, oranges, cranberries, chocolate, and, of course, pizza. (OK, maybe pizza is not the most traditional of foods, but it’s still a popular holiday choice, so humor me.) Pizzas normally come pre-sliced. The question is, and I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this a lot, …

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Ever since there have been human beings, human beings have gambled. Dice carved from the ankle bones of antelope have been found in prehistoric tombs. The ancient Egyptians played a game calle datep, which involved guessing how many fingers someone was holding up. The classical Greeks and biblical Jews had forms of dice, and the …

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I’m going to say something which, alas, will probably immediately alienate me from a large number of readers: I’ve always enjoyed math. Times tables held no terrors for me, fractions I found fascinating, and algebra–ah, algebra! When I first started taking algebra, I enjoyed it so much I’d make up equations out of thin air …

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“1, 2, 3, 4! What are we all counting for? “5, 6, 7, 8! Ain’t our number system great?” All right, so maybe you won’t hear thousands of people chanting it at a street demonstration–it’s still an interesting question. (The question in the first line, that is; the question in the second is rhetorical.) What …

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Zero: much ado about nothing

Several centuries ago Shakespeare titled a play Much Ado About Nothing. If I gave these columns titles, that’s what I’d call this one–not because I think I write as well as Shakespeare, but because that’s what this column is about: nothing. Nothing is very important. Um, what I mean is, the concept of nothing is …

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