so maths is useful for what now?

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so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Ambient » Mon May 19, 2008 8:22 am UTC

I'm doing maths because it is ment to help me get a job. I have no idea why though, I want to be a Jeweller. My question is why do we put so much strain on maths?

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby hyperion » Mon May 19, 2008 8:33 am UTC

1) maths builds problem-solving skills
2) it's useful if you want to do anything in the real world. As a jeweller you'll have to deal with precious metals/gems prices and maybe identify trends so you can buy materials at the cheapest possible price.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby ++$_ » Mon May 19, 2008 8:36 am UTC

Math teaches you how to think creatively and logically.

If you don't believe that math can help you think creatively, they're teaching it wrong.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Dobblesworth » Mon May 19, 2008 8:39 am UTC

Although aspects of maths such as Calculus, Circle Theorems and Complex Numbers have a limited effect on your abilities in a retail profession, maths is generally a strong subject to assist in daily life. Filing your tax returns, reading over the interest on your bank account details and a general fluency of numbers are a great asset for life gained through maths. It's definitely hard for some to see real life application for trigonometry in their chosen profession but you quite often have to grin and bear it.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby the tree » Mon May 19, 2008 10:28 am UTC

Various mathematical papers have been known to cause rubies to fall out of the sky upon reading. Also, a general fluency with numbers is just handy with all things, as everyone else has said.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Torn Apart By Dingos » Mon May 19, 2008 10:52 am UTC

Doing advanced courses helps cement what you learned in the more basic courses. If you spent a day to learn trigonometry for an exam and then never took another math course again, you wouldn't remember it when you would need it several years later.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby evilbeanfiend » Mon May 19, 2008 12:38 pm UTC

statistics are needed in all sorts of ways. pretty much everyone needs to asses risks at some point (which is something that is deeply unintuitive for most people) whether it be assessing business risks or understanding health issues.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Robin S » Mon May 19, 2008 3:02 pm UTC

Anyone who takes a degree, or ends up with a job, which is science- or finance- related, will need a reasonable standard of maths. That's quite a lot of people. Even if you don't need the more advanced maths directly, learning to deal with it helps to cement the lower levels until they become completely natural, which is useful even if the most advanced maths you ever do is taking averages.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Macbi » Mon May 19, 2008 4:13 pm UTC

I'm reminded of the intro to the book "how long is a piece of string?":
Imagine if your school had offered the following topics.

Monday: How to avoid being ripped off
Tuesday: Thinking games
Wednasday: Tips for highly paid jobs
Thursday: Patterns in the real world
Friday: When to take a chance

No doubt you would have chosen at least one of these options...
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon May 19, 2008 4:17 pm UTC

i'm in biology and can form opinions of things I observe. People can argue those opinions.

If I show them maths to verify what i've observed, people have a much harder time arguing those opinions.

Replace biology with just about anything.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby greenblob » Mon May 19, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

Math isn't meant to be useful--it's meant to be meaningful. That doesn't mean that there aren't any real-life applications that come from it.

The most common application that people come up with is probably the use of various methods that one might memorize over the course of one's math education, but ultimately math should help you solve problems on your own, making up your own methods as you go. So I guess the greatest "usefulness" that comes from mathematics would be the development of creative, logical, "outside-the-box" thought.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Moo » Mon May 19, 2008 4:34 pm UTC

I tried a quick google and didn't find anything off the cuff because my search terms are too vague, and I'm too busy to do a proper search right now but I'm sure there must be many, many ways in which math is necessary in jewelry design/production? Symmetry for design; working out of a ring of this width needs that amount of gold and will be structurally intact; the exact angles that are involved with cutting precious stones (even to identify and match with settings if not cutting them yourself); that kind of thing? Someone help me out here with more examples.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Indon » Mon May 19, 2008 6:02 pm UTC

Moo wrote:I tried a quick google and didn't find anything off the cuff because my search terms are too vague, and I'm too busy to do a proper search right now but I'm sure there must be many, many ways in which math is necessary in jewelry design/production? Symmetry for design; working out of a ring of this width needs that amount of gold and will be structurally intact; the exact angles that are involved with cutting precious stones (even to identify and match with settings if not cutting them yourself); that kind of thing? Someone help me out here with more examples.


The chemistry involved in gem synthesis is probably pretty math-heavy as well, in addition to the complex geometry involved in cutting and refining gems for quality of light reflection.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby McHell » Mon May 19, 2008 6:53 pm UTC

Math education (below university level, plus as minor in university education) is mostly used as a social sieve. This is pretty sad, but true. Getting a "good" high school degree, implies being functional in "the system" to a certain degree, and also gives a strong indication about your background (neat and middleclass, basically).

Less than 1% of the population knows any math (except statistics) that's less than 100years old. So essentially mathematics has evolved to the limits of its usefulness in general, the rest is for specialist usage.
I think maths are fundamental to western thinking, formal logic and all that, and possibly interchangeable up to some level (being good at one and bad at the other doesn't make sense).

So if your question is "why would I take some math course", there's a lot of utilitarian, "safety option" arguments. Preferably you'd do it because it's the least sane thing ever, and extremely cool at that. I did it because my last high school teacher failed me on my math exam, so I just got a magna cum laude to spite him. But that turns out to be a bad motivation --- I'm good at it, but not great, and as such it's just middling. It means missing the exact touch to correctly answer difficult things out of context and without reading up on it; it means all this knowledge soaked up in 4 years got completely lost in 10 following years. All in all, a waste of time. Not that I know what I'd been doing instead, or whether that would be less of a waste.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby orangeperson » Mon May 19, 2008 10:11 pm UTC

The shape of the pendant that I desire is given by the rotation of |sin(x2)+2| from x=0 to x=4cm around the x axis. I want a 2 carat embedded diamond. What is the volume of the gold needed to make my pendant? What is the surface area of the pendant?
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby jmorgan3 » Tue May 20, 2008 1:08 am UTC

orangeperson wrote:The shape of the pendant that I desire is given by the rotation of |sin(x2)+2| from x=0 to x=4cm around the x axis. I want a 2 carat embedded diamond. What is the volume of the gold needed to make my pendant? What is the surface area of the pendant?


Furthermore, the gold is on a train heading from Chicago to New York at 30 mph...
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Durandal » Tue May 20, 2008 2:18 am UTC

jmorgan3 wrote:Furthermore, the gold is on a train heading from Chicago to New York at 30 mph...
...20o East of North, in the frame of reference of a jet plane moving at 150 m/s West. Calculate the instantaneous rate of change in the distance from the jet plane to the train at t=5 seconds if the jet is 500 meters above the ground and 1000 meters away from the train at t=0 seconds. The height of the jet remains constant.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue May 20, 2008 2:28 am UTC

Durandal wrote:
jmorgan3 wrote:Furthermore, the gold is on a train heading from Chicago to New York at 30 mph...
...20o East of North, in the frame of reference of a jet plane moving at 150 m/s West. Calculate the instantaneous rate of change in the distance from the jet plane to the train at t=5 seconds if the jet is 500 meters above the ground and 1000 meters away from the train at t=0 seconds. The height of the jet remains constant.


From the perspective of Mars. Time delays in observation as well as relativistic effects should be considered.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Yesila » Tue May 20, 2008 2:36 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:
Durandal wrote:
jmorgan3 wrote:Furthermore, the gold is on a train heading from Chicago to New York at 30 mph...
...20o East of North, in the frame of reference of a jet plane moving at 150 m/s West. Calculate the instantaneous rate of change in the distance from the jet plane to the train at t=5 seconds if the jet is 500 meters above the ground and 1000 meters away from the train at t=0 seconds. The height of the jet remains constant.


From the perspective of Mars. Time delays in observation as well as relativistic effects should be considered.



And It's problems like this that make students think that there is no point to math. Textbooks are filled with "application" problems like the above (okay, I've never seen one quite so contrived). I'm of the opinion that a math class should teach math, and leave all of the "applications" to the student's physics, chemistry, economics, CS, etc... classes.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Durandal » Tue May 20, 2008 3:12 am UTC

I personally enjoy related rate questions. I find them to be a perfect culmination of the concepts associated with the derivative. Yes, a lot of the problems you're given are awfully contrived, but they're very satisfying to do.

...which brings about another point. Math is fun. No, seriously. You really can't beat the feeling you get when you gain a sudden, deep understanding of a concept. Before, it was you plugging numbers into a formula, its inner workings uninteresting to you save for the answer it spits out. After, it's you manipulating the universe.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby root » Tue May 20, 2008 3:43 am UTC

Yesila wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:
Durandal wrote:
jmorgan3 wrote:Furthermore, the gold is on a train heading from Chicago to New York at 30 mph...
...20o East of North, in the frame of reference of a jet plane moving at 150 m/s West. Calculate the instantaneous rate of change in the distance from the jet plane to the train at t=5 seconds if the jet is 500 meters above the ground and 1000 meters away from the train at t=0 seconds. The height of the jet remains constant.


From the perspective of Mars. Time delays in observation as well as relativistic effects should be considered.



And It's problems like this that make students think that there is no point to math. Textbooks are filled with "application" problems like the above (okay, I've never seen one quite so contrived). I'm of the opinion that a math class should teach math, and leave all of the "applications" to the student's physics, chemistry, economics, CS, etc... classes.

But there is a point. The second part of the question is as follows:
If the train left at 13:00, and it is now 13:53, showers take 15 minutes, do you have enough time to not only make the hour with the hooker worth it, but enough time to shower and get the taste of hooker spit and weed out of your mouth before you need to pick up your girlfriend who is also on the aforementioned train? It takes you 7 minutes to get to the station from home, and 16 from the cheap hotel to home.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Herman » Tue May 20, 2008 5:36 am UTC

root wrote:
Yesila wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:
Durandal wrote:
jmorgan3 wrote:Furthermore, the gold is on a train heading from Chicago to New York at 30 mph...
...20o East of North, in the frame of reference of a jet plane moving at 150 m/s West. Calculate the instantaneous rate of change in the distance from the jet plane to the train at t=5 seconds if the jet is 500 meters above the ground and 1000 meters away from the train at t=0 seconds. The height of the jet remains constant.


From the perspective of Mars. Time delays in observation as well as relativistic effects should be considered.



And It's problems like this that make students think that there is no point to math. Textbooks are filled with "application" problems like the above (okay, I've never seen one quite so contrived). I'm of the opinion that a math class should teach math, and leave all of the "applications" to the student's physics, chemistry, economics, CS, etc... classes.

But there is a point. The second part of the question is as follows:
If the train left at 13:00, and it is now 13:53, showers take 15 minutes, do you have enough time to not only make the hour with the hooker worth it, but enough time to shower and get the taste of hooker spit and weed out of your mouth before you need to pick up your girlfriend who is also on the aforementioned train? It takes you 7 minutes to get to the station from home, and 16 from the cheap hotel to home.


Neglect friction.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby RDon » Tue May 20, 2008 9:16 pm UTC

Ambient wrote:I'm doing maths because it is ment to help me get a job. I have no idea why though, I want to be a Jeweller. My question is why do we put so much strain on maths?


I'm looking to buy a diamond for my girlfriend. She wants a nine-sided regular polyhedron.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Yesila » Wed May 21, 2008 12:02 am UTC

RDon wrote:
Ambient wrote:I'm doing maths because it is ment to help me get a job. I have no idea why though, I want to be a Jeweller. My question is why do we put so much strain on maths?


I'm looking to buy a diamond for my girlfriend. She wants a nine-sided regular polyhedron.


You should really consider geting a diamond cut with more facets than 9. It's all the many faces that make the diamond sparkle and shine. One of the more popular cuts is the round brilliant with 58 different facets, it'll catch the lights from all sorts of angles and reflect those out.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Captain Strychnine » Wed May 21, 2008 4:47 am UTC

Yesila wrote:
RDon wrote:I'm looking to buy a diamond for my girlfriend. She wants a nine-sided regular polyhedron.

You should really consider geting a diamond cut with more facets than 9. It's all the many faces that make the diamond sparkle and shine. One of the more popular cuts is the round brilliant with 58 different facets, it'll catch the lights from all sorts of angles and reflect those out.

Also, there is no such thing as a 9-sided regular polyhedron.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Mettra » Wed May 21, 2008 5:08 am UTC

Ambient wrote:I'm doing maths because it is ment to help me get a job. I have no idea why though, I want to be a Jeweller. My question is why do we put so much strain on maths?


The reason math is stressed so much in general is that humans don't understand it easily, but it's the most powerful tool we have available to us. Math is a long string of very simple ideas. But those simple ideas keep piling on and piling on, and some are related and interrelated with yet others. It all gets very complicated even though everything is very simple at its smallest. But math is powerful because it helps us define relationships to things which can't be described with words.

If you are a jeweller (a person that I assume works directly with jewels from their raw form up to their polished form), you are going to need to be familiar with geometry at the very least. You'll also probably need to know chemistry depending on the exact kind of stuff you are doing (for analysis of different materials) which itself involves math. There is a very exciting 'new' thing called quasicrystals that have geometry that was thought to be literally impossible for atomic structures - this new thing may rear its head in the jewelry sector pretty soon if it hasn't already. It involves very complex geometry that follows mathematical theorems from linear algebra and other areas of math.

But even more important than the direct stuff is the indirect stuff. Let's take a person who performs physical operations (cutting/polishing) on raw stones for example. We've come a long way in a few centuries - and that's represented in the tools we use. Today we have tools so accurate and precise that they can make changes invisible to the human eye (and in some cases, some weak microscopes). These machines aren't made by jewellers, but they are made because jewellers said 'we need better tools that do this and that' and so on.

These jewellers were talking to engineers - these guys do some serious math. You tell them 'I want this machine to spin around like this and cut this material' and they go and crunch the numbers. However, these guys would be totally helpless without physicists. Physicists figure out how everything works at the most fundamental level. They are the guys that form all the theories that those poor engineers have to shove somewhere in the back of their head (along with all kinds of other detailed information). Physicists do math so horrendous that even they can't solve it. And that's where mathematicians come in - to fill in the blanks so that physicists can wrap up their theories, and engineers can use those theories and apply them to practical problems, and jewelers can have their shiny new equipment.

But wait, there's more: a lot of equipment these days is computerized. That means it either contains or can run software. All this software is written by programmers who study very interesting and complex math in order to make their programs efficient and correct. How much space does your hard drive have? How much RAM can you access at one time? What's the effect of clockspeed on processor speed? The answers lie in the math.

That's just the beginning. Everything from the ground you walk on to the house you sleep in to the water you drink and the heat you use to cook your food is governed by mathematical principles. Math isn't just 'doing tricks with numbers' math is a way to view the world in a non-fuzzy non-ambiguous way. Math is very exact and it's either right or wrong. Getting simple correct answers means a lot in a world filled with ambiguity.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Nimz » Wed May 21, 2008 11:35 am UTC

It has been my experience that physicists often blatently disregard "proper" mathematics in favor of "this should work out, so I'm going to do it." It then takes mathematicians a while to catch up to providing proper justification for why the physicist can do that.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby evilbeanfiend » Wed May 21, 2008 12:12 pm UTC

mathematicians often blatantly disregard "proper" mathematics in favor of "this should work out, so I'm going to do it." It then takes other mathematicians a while to catch up to providing proper justification for why the mathematician can (or can't) do that.

same happens in all the sciences too.
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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby RDon » Wed May 21, 2008 4:37 pm UTC

Captain Strychnine wrote:
Yesila wrote:
RDon wrote:I'm looking to buy a diamond for my girlfriend. She wants a nine-sided regular polyhedron.

You should really consider geting a diamond cut with more facets than 9. It's all the many faces that make the diamond sparkle and shine. One of the more popular cuts is the round brilliant with 58 different facets, it'll catch the lights from all sorts of angles and reflect those out.

Also, there is no such thing as a 9-sided regular polyhedron.


This is exactly my point. Hence, why math is useful for a jeweler.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby azredwing » Wed May 21, 2008 5:15 pm UTC

As a jeweler, you'll be dealing a lot with crystals (duh). The math behind crystallography defines the shapes, colors, strength, etc., of the material.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby HenryS » Wed May 21, 2008 6:19 pm UTC

evilbeanfiend wrote:mathematicians often blatantly disregard "proper" mathematics in favor of "this should work out, so I'm going to do it." It then takes other mathematicians a while to catch up to providing proper justification for why the mathematician can (or can't) do that.

same happens in all the sciences too.
At least the propaganda I hear would say that the mathematicians are better than the physicists at requiring rigour. It makes sense, at least culturally, since physicists are coming from a background in which experiment is at least as important as mathematical proof as a standard to judge the correctness of their work, whereas mathematicians only have proof.

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Re: so maths is useful for what now?

Postby Mettra » Wed May 21, 2008 8:33 pm UTC

HenryS wrote:
evilbeanfiend wrote:mathematicians often blatantly disregard "proper" mathematics in favor of "this should work out, so I'm going to do it." It then takes other mathematicians a while to catch up to providing proper justification for why the mathematician can (or can't) do that.

same happens in all the sciences too.
At least the propaganda I hear would say that the mathematicians are better than the physicists at requiring rigour. It makes sense, at least culturally, since physicists are coming from a background in which experiment is at least as important as mathematical proof as a standard to judge the correctness of their work, whereas mathematicians only have proof.


Physicists get to cheat a bit. We have the oracle of experimentation/nature to provide us with answers.
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