CultureLearn

Today is National Pi Day, and we want to celebrate by highlighting some of history’s most amazing mathematicians (in addition to eating a big slice of pie!).

Some cool facts about Pi:

  • It has been represented using the Greek letter “π” for the past 250 years.
  • It is a mathematical constant that’s special, unique, and significant in its own way.
  • It is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
  • It never ends or settles into a repeating pattern.
  • It is the most recognized mathematical constant.
  • Computing the value of Pi is a stress test for computers.

Five of history’s most interesting mathematicians:

DN-SC-84-05971Grace Hopper (aka “Amazing Grace”) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. As a child Hopper would dismantle household gadgets, specifically alarm clocks, to figure out how they worked. During WWII Hopper decided to take a leave of absence from Vassar where she was working as an associate professor of math and was sown into the U.S. Navy Reserve as a volunteer. A pioneer in her field, she worked at Harvard University for the navy and was one of the first programmers to work on a computer called Harvard Mark I that was used in the war effort. On top of it all, she invented the first compiler for a computer programming language.

 

williamplayfairWilliam Playfair was the founder of graphical methods of statistics, in other words charts and diagrams. He was a Sottish engineer and political economist who invented four types of diagrams: the line graph, the car chart, the pie chart, and the circle graph. Born during the Enlightenment – a Golden Age when the arts, sciences, industry, and commerce were all thriving – Playfair was involved in many different careers. He was an engineer, accountant, inventor, silversmith, merchant, investment broker, economist, publicist, land speculator, editor, journalist, the list goes on.

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Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. She earned this title after working on one of the earliest mechanical general-purpose computers called the Analytical Engine. The notes she took on this project are recognized as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. This has earned her the title of “first computer programmer.” As a young child Lovelace showed signs of being highly influence by math and science, and her parents pushed her to pursue this talent.

 

 

 

isaacnewton

Isaac Newton is best known for having developed the theory of gravity and physics, but he also invented calculus (as did Gottfried Leibniz, who he had many disputes with over this topic during his life). This Englishman formulated laws of motion and universal gravitation using mathematical processes. Born on Christmas Day, Newton was known to be an independent person who never married. His work in science and math are some of the core foundations on which many other developments were made.

 

 

 

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Sofia Kovalevskaya was the first major Russian female mathematician. She contributed major original advances to analysis, differential equations, and mechanics. She was the first woman to ever be appointed to full professorship in Northern Europe and was one of the first women to work for a scientific journal as an editor. Born in Moscow, Kovalevskaya studied in Germany by auditing courses at a German university. For a long time she tried to build up her career but because she was a woman she was unable to. Finally she was accepted as a professor in Stockholm, Sweden.

 

 

Which leaders in math and science inspire you?

Image: Flickr, Grace Hopper, William Playfair, Ada LovelaceIsaac Newton, Sofia Kovalevskaya

CollegeCultureInspiration

I think every female has noticed this phenomenon at some point in their life: men tend to notice women a bit more if their features are slightly enhanced…by make-up. I notice that when I go on my occasional morning jog with no make-up on, barely any guys will try to communicate with me. When I’m at the gym in the evenings after class, I have a bit of make-up on, and for some reason, males will try to come talk to me.

Another instance of this “cosmetic on/off” phenomenon occurs on days when I am hardcore studying in the library after sleepless nights when I tend not to have any sort of lipstick, eyeliner, or foundation on. My acne scars are showing, the shades of dark circles under my eyes are present, and my forehead wrinkles are visible. I do not mind this. This is my natural look and I am proud of it. But why is it that the days I am bereft of any modification, absolutely no guy will sit with me in the library? On days when I am well-rested, showered, and have my make-up on, males with come and occupy some of the vacant seats around me. I attract them with my red lips, and perhaps I repel them with my pale lips.

Why does this happen? I have the same amount of intelligence with or without make-up. I am the same person with or without make-up. I have the same memories, the same sense of humor, and the same sarcastic undertones in some of the words. I am the same person, the same soul, and the same human despite my disheveled and haggard appearance or my prim and proper look.

Perhaps this condition does not only apply to males, and I have only noticed it in them. Maybe it’s just human nature that we tend to approach those who seem clean and beautiful, as opposed to those who look like they just rolled out of bed. It’s just natural for us to judge people by their appearance; it’s an inherent ability that we possess. We tend to feel safer around those who look put together physically.

However, is it possible for us to evolve out of this behavior and thought process? Can we look past people’s physiognomy and actually try to explore their minds? Is that something that our generation could possibly accomplish and set as a trend? Quite possibly, yes. I believe we can do this…next time you see someone sitting alone, regardless of what they look like, just go up to them and talk to them. I try to do this in college and I have met many beautiful souls and amazing characters.

Image: Hayley Bolan

EducationHealth

A 2006 survey done by Tjaden and Thoennes revealed that 1 in 4 women reported a case of sexual assault on campus over the past 20 years. Since then, American college campuses have utilized every expense they can to protect students from unwanted sexual advances. A phrase that used to closely follow public service announcements about sexual assault and rape was “no means no,” referring to the idea that if the victim says no or is too intoxicated to say anything, then the act is a crime. However, current California legislation has redefined and clarified what it means to partake in coitus consensually. The new law that has been passed changes the “no means no” into “yes means yes.” This means to have intercourse consensually, both partners must say a certain, unambiguous “yes.” New legislation such as this causes college campuses nationwide to reexamine how to investigate and ultimately prevent these offenses.

The prime force that prompted this article came from one of my professors who, in class, brought up the topic of sexual assault on college campuses. My professor told our class about how the progression of American society has affected how we deal with issues. In her youth, women were responsible for not inviting sexual assault, whereas today, people understand that these unwanted advances can occur under any circumstance, whether the victim is wearing revealing clothing or covered from head to toe. Yet, today, it is the responsibility of the school to inform all students on these dangers.

She also pointed out how the involvement of male role models has shown men their part in helping to prevent this issue from occurring. Two examples of men combating the rise of sexual assault are the recent 1 Is 2 Many video advertisements and the invention Undercover Colors by a group of young men from North Carolina State University.

The 1 Is 2 Many ad shows male celebrities like Daniel Craig, Steve Carrell, and Seth Meyers informing the audience on the statistics of sexual assault. The ad also goes on to explain how men are just as responsible for preventing this crime and protect their daughters, sisters, friends, etc. Ads like this allow male viewers to relate to the situation on a deeper level than if a woman were the focal point of the ad. This example teaches men that they have an equally important role in helping women (or at the very least being aware that being an aggressor in these crimes is unacceptable). The group of young men at NCSU took this notion a step further and created a nail polish called Undercover Colors that changes colors when it comes in contact with date rape drugs.

With all of these progressive movements toward educating both sexes on the dangers of sexual assault, media is paving a way for other states and even countries who struggle to prevent sexually charged crimes. Technology and social media has given our society insight into the crime; we are capable of going onto Youtube and watching PSA’s on sexual assault or we can see news of it on our news feeds. There are television shows like Law & Order: SVU and films like Speak that expound upon the struggle of victims of sexual assault that one can refer to in order to understand such atrocities. Media has brought a new sense of awareness to this issue by illuminating the topic so even a state like California would redefine the meaning of sexual assault. The hindrance of all sexual crimes is still a rather distant goal considering the number of people worldwide who are sexually assaulted, whether on college campuses or just out in the real world. However, I have full confidence in the idea that media can be employed as a catalyst to help abolish outrageous actions. Media can be a tricky and manipulative creature, but if operated in the right manner media can be a powerful force for good, like in the case of ridding the world of sexually based crimes.

 

Image: Flickr