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Friday, May 18, 2012

Why mathematics should be mandatory for History students.

#mathematics# #history# #holocaust# #conspiracies#

Since I woke up to the truth behind 9/11 thanks to Dylan Avery's Loose Change, I began to question EVERYTHING.

Only a few years ago the math skills of elementary school teachers were tested in The Netherlands. They were so poor that the results made the national news headlines. The requirements changed since then. If you want to become an elementary school teacher in The Netherlands you have to pass an additional test in mathematics. Period. When I was in high school there were roughly two groups of students. Those that could do math, and those that couldn't. The first group could study everything they wanted and the second group could only continue their studies in areas where math wasn't required. A popular study in the second group was history. Think about that for a minute. A person with a Ph.D. in History likely has the math skills of a second year high school drop-out. Functions, Trigonometry, Elementary Calculus, Combinatorics and Elementary Linear Algebra are high school subjects they did not do. They can basically add and multiply, with a calculator. They ( the history Ph.Ds ) can't do simple questions like how much is 4 divided by a third, or how much is 27^2, without a calculator.

An example. I learned in high school that there were 4,000,000 people killed in Auschwitz ( a concentration camp ) during the second world war. From 1945 to 1990 that was the official number. In 1989 historians however had to revise this number. They revised it down to 1.3 million, they sliced two thirds off the original estimate. It is very important to understand that people questioning this number prior to 1990 were considered 'conspiracy theorists' or 'Holocaust Denialists'. ( I also found out that from 1945 onwards to the early fifties it was said that there were more than 20 concentration camps with gas chambers. This number was brought down to three in the early fifties. )

How is it possible that an official statistical figure can be revised from 4,000,000 back to one-third? This is a very complicated and sensitive (!) issue I can't completely answer but that the math skills of historians are an issue I am certain. I would like to plead for adding mathematics to the requirements for studying history.

Another example. Even today there is a group of historians who are still questioning the official figures of the Holocaust. ( They are of course execrated because they are questioning the official party line. ) Now look at a video where a historian completely breaks down a fact in the official literature using elementary mathematics. In my opinion these kinds of grave errors in the scientific literature are possible because few scientists in the history community can do their maths. But as we have seen historians can 'revise' their figures. ( In any other science this would be a grave embarrassment of course. )

The video: " Treblinka Burial Space." What do you think?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Learn by programming

#mathematica #geometry #wallpaper

They say that the best way to learn mathematics is by doing it By doing they usually mean doing exercises, I suppose. Another way of doing is of course programming. For M336 I have ( read: have in development ) built a wallpaper pattern designer / generator. Some screenshots:

Although I know my way around in Mathematica fairly well. I am very grateful to all the guys on Mathematica StackExchange who helped me when the Mathematica coding became ( too ) difficult. You'll find =the= absolute best Mathematica coders on the Planet at that site. And they help.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Open University M336 video lectures

#M336 #geometry #openuniversity

The Open University M336 course comes with 7 lectures on one DVD of about half an hour each, or almost four hours of lectures. The lectures are titled:
- Living with patterns
- Friezes
- Counting with groups
- Incidence symbols
- Lattices and wallpaper patterns
- Regular solids
- Octet for truss and comb

These lectures are additions to the booklets and excercises and are not meant to learn new material from, instead they reinforce what has been learned before.

So, although there is no entire lecture series covering the M336 materials you could easily create one by cherry picking lectures from the internet. For Group Theory you can use the first half of the Harvard Abstract Algebra course which covers group theory upto the Sylow Theorems.

For the geometry part you could use the MIT Course 'An Introduction to Crystallography'. This course contains 41 video lectures of which lectures 5 to 27 cover the material of the Geometry track in M336.

Link: Symmetry, Structure, and Tensor Properties of Materials MIT OpenCourseWare

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Escher's imaginery workplace

#mathematics #art #Open University #m336 #Escher

The Scream by Edvard Munch was sold for USD 120 million. I didn't like it yesterday and I don't like it now that I know it's perceived value. My favourite artists are Escher, Kandinsky and Dali, their work inspires me, and I am truly impressed by what they have created, art needs beauty. M336 brings group theory and geometry together through visual symmetry, or the symmetry Escher used in a lot of his work. I browse a lot through work of Escher as a result of M336 studies. Recently I came across this sensational video. A must see, really.

( A short movie inspired on Escher's works and a free vision on how it could be his workplace. )

This is another video by Eterea.

( A short movie about numbers and geometry. )

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Mathematics: is it the fabric of MEST?
This is my voyage
My continuous mission
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To create new theorems and proofs
To boldly go where no man has gone before

(Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion, colloquially aka Raumpatrouille Orion was the first German science fiction television series. Its seven episodes were broadcast by ARD beginning September 17, 1966. The series has since acquired cult status in Germany. Broadcast six years before Star Trek first aired in West Germany (in 1972), it became a huge success.)