Maths for the Frightened at the CSIRO. Lunchtime lecture

johnboy 14 August 2012 1


This in from the CSIRO:

Join Prof Colin Pask for a lunchtime talk.

Colin Pask will take you into a place that can be frightening and bring you back a little wiser.

He introduces the main ideas of mathematics, and using examples, painlessly demonstrates how they are
expressed in symbols while helping you to overcome the fear of maths.

You will begin to appreciate the science that Einstein called “the poetry of logical ideas”. Maths underpins many of
the big breakthroughs in science and in human thinking – don’t freak and come to this short talk.

Prof Pask recently published a book titled, Math for the Frightened: Facing Scary Symbols and Everything Else That
Freaks You Out About Mathematics (Prometheus Books).

Suitable for adults and secondary students.

Cost: Free


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One Response to Maths for the Frightened at the CSIRO. Lunchtime lecture
poetix poetix 1:54 pm 15 Aug 12

Professor Pask had a task in front of him, teaching me anything about maths. My last maths was in year 10, namely ‘survival maths’ (how to fill in a tax return and how to play Scrabble with maths tiles). I sat at the edge of the lecture theatre, so I could do the whole theatrical ‘oh there’s an appointment I forgot about’ thing with silenced phone if I felt like bursting into tears, which is my usual response to anything even smelling of maths.

Well he was very nice and unthreatening and I lasted the whole lecture, but I still don’t understand the sense in which maths can be said to ‘prove’ anything. And all those symbols (including lost letters severed from words) still make me feel ill. But he did show some nice patterns, and I feel exceptionally brave for even going.

So it’s still:

( )-: x ?) x 1,000,000 (I wanted to put infinity but I can’t find it on my computer.)

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