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Ben Babcock

8 Articles Tagged with “math”

  1. Why I love math

    Tonight a friend on Facebook asked me: why do you like math? I knew that any suitable answer to that question would be a long one, and as I was cooking at the time and logged into Facebook chat on my phone, and so I deferred. After dinner I began typing a response on Facebook, but then I realized that this is worth its own blog post. I think it’s evident from this blog that I do love math, but I seldom pause to discuss why I love it.

    This is what I said three years ago:

    For those who don’t understand how someone can be so excited about math, the best way I can describe it is like being closer to God. I don’t necessarily believe in God, but I imagine that what I feel when I’m exploring mathematical concepts is the same feeling pious people get when they do whatever it is pious people do to feel closer to God. And math truly is the language of the universe. If God does exist, in one form or another, then understanding math helps one understand the universe and, in a way, get closer to God and creation.


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  2. Math hermit

    With the first term nearing its end, here's a little review of my second year so far.

    That is the best way to describe how I spend most of my time now. With three math classes, I spend nine hours a week listening to math lectures. I have three assignments due each week, so I work on those in my time between school and work. Every second week until the middle of November, I went to a practice sessions for math competitions for an hour on Fridays. Even when I'm not doing my own math, I like to help other people with their math. I am living and breathing math.


    For those who don't understand how someone can be so excited about math, the best way I can describe it is like being closer to God. I don't necessarily believe in God, but I imagine that what I feel when I'm exploring mathematical concepts is the same feeling pious people get when they do whatever it is pious people do to feel closer to God. And math truly is the language of the universe. If God does exist, in one form or another, then understanding math…

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  3. Break it down now

    I must confess, in general, I dislike numbers. I love math, but numbers just hurt my head. Not all numbers were created equal, however (yes, that is a really bad pun). Certain numbers are more fascinating than others. Take prime numbers, for example. Mathematicians continue to search for larger and larger prime numbers, and we just found another one.

    A prime number is any integer that can be divided by only itself and one. Two is the only even prime number. Others include three, thirteen, and twenty-nine. The largest known prime number would fill over 3,000 pages. It's two to the exponent 43,112,609 minus one. Yeah, that's big.

    What's the big deal about prime numbers? Surely they have no application in the real world! Those silly mathematicians are too lazy to do work, so they just sit around making up numbers all day! You might have been right, once. Then someone came along and built computers, and prime numbers now have purpose!

    All integers (whole numbers) can be broken down into a unique combination of primes. For example, 10 is the product of two prime numbers, 2 and 5. Factorization is the operation of finding a number's prime factors;…

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  4. I like Mondays

    After a weekend of work, Mondays are refreshing. I don't work on Mondays, and I get to go back to school and learn.

    I've been back for over a week now, and I'm enjoying it. This is my easy term; I only have five courses: Foundations and Issues in Education, Educational Technology in the Classroom, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra I, and Ring Theory with Applications. Yes, two education courses and three maths. I love math. :D

    Of the education courses, the technology one is online. I knew going into it that it would be easy, but as it stands right now, it's rather inane: for the first four weeks all we have to do is read, then we get a test. Then we have to work in groups to create a blog about teaching technologies, theories that apply to these technologies, etc. This wouldn't be so bad, except that the reading material is full of typos, passive voice, prepositions at the end of the sentence--I'm very glad that I don't have to buy a textbook, but this is almost torture. Spellcheck, please!

    My other education course looks like it'll be more interesting. At least it's mostly discussion-based. That makes it…

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  5. Rap video about physics = BEST THING EVER

    Have you ever looked at someone who is walking down the street listening to an MP3 player and said, "Gee, I wonder if that person is listening to a rap song about physics!"((If the answer is yes, and you haven't heard of the Large Hadron Rap, then you may be a closet physicist. Don't worry, there's support groups for those now.))

    Because that's what I spent most of Monday and yesterday doing. Seriously.

    Today marks the first circulation of particle beams through the Large Hadron Collider. This is the largest particle accelerator ever built--27 km in circumference! Soon scientists will begin high-speed particle collisions, and thousands of scientists from around the world will analyze the results of these experiments to help us better comprehend the universe.

    I love physics. It interests me almost as much as math does. I'm also one of those people who believe that science, especially physics, doesn't need to be inaccessible to laypeople. While you may not be able to grasp the more esoteric mathematics behind the theories, it is possible to distill it down to the most basic points. Katherine McAlpine managed to do just that with her Large Hadron Rap. If you…

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  6. Math rocks!

    I got to miss the entire day of school for a math competition at the university. ^_^

    The individual competition was in the morning, so I sat in the lecture theatre with a hundred or so other kids and answered 15 multiple choice and 5 full solution questions (or attempted to answer, I guess). It was pretty hard, but not as bad as last year. I did well on the multiple choice, I think, although not so well on the full solution.

    Then we got a free lunch, which is always a nice break. :D Pasta, chicken wings. Nanaimo bars for dessert. Mmm. After lunch those of us from Westgate tossed a Frisbee around for a little, since it was so nice outside. They gave away free Frisbees, coffee mugs, and of course, the annual t-shirt.

    Then there was the team competition. That went better than the individual one. I was partnered with two other fairly smart kids, so we did fine.

    I'm not sure why I love this math competition so much, except that I do. Well, it was cool to get a day off school and a free lunch just for doing math. And the t-shirt is nice.…

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  7. I'm an idiot

    The integral of f(x) over [a,b] is equal to the integral of f(x) over [a,c] plus the integral of f(x) over [c,b]

    Note that f(x) must be the same over this interval. Silly me. :D

    (My only consolation is that not only did my two classmates fail to spot this, but the student teacher was the one who tried to do this with different functions and led us into the incorrect solution. :r)

  8. Math competition

    Today I participated in the TD Canada Trust Math Competition at LU. I went last year too, although it was at the college then because of a strike at the university.

    I don't think I did too well at the individual portion. Part of the reason was that some of the questions involved stuff I simply haven't learned yet. As for the team competition...I think we did reasonably well. Again, I felt a bit useless because I was on a team with two grade 12s (the grade above me) and I didn't know half as much as they did. :D Plus, there was nothing on conic sections! That was my "thing", since I had just finished learning it, whereas the grade 12s had forgotten it. Oh, there were sequences and series all right (another grade 11 subject that I haven't learned), but no conics whatsoever!

    So yeah...we did get down an answer for every question, but we used the horrendous method of guess-and-check for nearly every one, and our proofs were quite flimsy. :D The answers will be posted online sometime this weekend, so I'll get a link up to them later.

    Lunch was quite good. There was pasta,…

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About Me

I’m a 27-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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