Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Circles, Pie Are Squared Donch'a Know?

I hated geometry class in high school. I didn't see the use for proofs. In fact my brain seemed to freeze when we had to do them. It was frustrating, because I was always a good math student, not a natural like Billy, but I could usually pull A's with some effort.

Not in geometry though.
I was typical in my thinking that, "I would never use this stuff."
Mostly that is true ... at least regarding proofs, but in building things I use the A squared + B squared = C squared all the time ... and these days, I find myself needing to figure the volume of aquaculture tanks every once in a while.

Still it was a rough year in geometry class back in 1974. The geometry teacher was the Junior Class sponsor and the following year he and I worked closely on Prom preparations as I was the Junior Class President. I was busting my butt the morning of prom with the usual 6 kids who actually show up to help decorate, when he turned to me and said, " You know, last year in geometry class, I thought you were sort of a jerk, but you are all right."

I set my hammer down and smiled.

"Why, Mr. Bacon I was just thinking the same thing about you."

Okay students...
Below are two circles of sand created by ants in my driveway. Were they paying attention in class or what?
This may just be me, but the top lighter picture is weirding me out because almost every time I look at it, the circle seems depressed with the center area higher ... as if the circle was a groove.
It's like one of those funky magic picture pictures and I have to look at it from the side to see it as it really was.
Is it just me?

This darker ring of excavated sand only a few feet away looks perfectly normal to me.

Also odd that every excavating ant walked a set distance from the hole to deposit their load. Probably nothing more than the amazing combination of instinct and pheromones, but still a neat little wonder.

Just a little something Bear and I found on our walk.


swamp4me said...

I absolutely adored my geometry teacher, Mr. Hamilton, and absolutely, positively, unequivocally despised geometry. Life's funny, eh? As for the ants, I love them as long as they stay out of my kitchen!!

Thunder Dave said...

Ants are fascinating creatures! To start they are actually wasps that have evolved to lose their wings. Further they can move objects more than 10X their own body weight (Basically that would be like you lifting your Jeep with your hands to change a tire)!

For Geometry, sometime when you're bored I'll show you how to calculate the volume of a half empty liquid hauling rail car!

Sharon said...

No, it's not just you :)

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hurricane Teen said...

I hated proofs in high school Geometry, too! But now I've studied/performed so many proofs in my calculus and probability classes that I actually realize their use...And four years later...I still hate them.

robin andrea said...

I loved math until I hit geometry class. Suddenly my brain had no idea what the teacher was talking about. I had never experienced anything like it. It was interesting encountering concepts that I absolutely could not fully grasp. When I prepped for my GREs many years later, I had someone tutor me in algebra and geometry so I wouldn't look like a complete idiot. I would love to take a geometry class now.

Nice sandy ant mounds. Did you ever catch the documentary on PBS on E.O. Wilson, Lord of the Ants. Great stuff.

edifice rex said...

Geometry I could understand (figures, huh?) but calculus was absolutely, totally beyond my grasp.
The circle looks raised in the center to me also but I believe this is because the left side of the hole is showing, what appears to be, a highlighted area and the right side looks darker, like a shadow. It seems the ants inadvertently put most of the darker pebbles on the right side. Or did they?... Maybe it's ant environmental art?

Anonymous said...

FC-Geez, was he always this nerdy? Why would I need to know that calculation? Oh well, I love him anyway!

Caroline said...

OMG, geometry! Mr. Pfeiffer, my teacher had the patience of a saint and a sense of humor, thank heaven.
I am right there with everyone else with those proofs!
My husband is an architect, so that stuff is absolutely instinctive to him...can you just imagine things when we built our own house from the ground up? I don't think divorce ever was mentioned, but assault and arson were.

cndymkr / jean said...

I use to be good at math, at least I think I was good at it. According to my son, a darling sweet 14 year old know it all - I know NOTHING about anything. Sorry, it's been one of those days here. School just doesn't start soon enough.

Deb said...

"nothing more than the amazing..." I like that.

I've been reading some pretty out-there stuff on non linear thinking lately, and it supports what I've long suspected, that geometry doesn't work well in the real, natural world.

word verification: color

Bill said...

Math, no problem, Latin was Greek to me though.

I love anthills. Except in my yard.
Keep on postin.


nfmgirl said...

You know, I flunked Geometry (I couldn't stand theorems. Is that term correct? I couldn't stand being told, "Don't work out the problem and come to a solution. Just tell me which theory or theorem (or whatever) you would use to solve it." That drove me nuts! I wanted to see it put to work and actually solve the problem!

I had to take summer school that year (the only time I ever did), and somehow I was able to substitute the geometry class I flunked with summer Driver's Ed instead. Go figure.

kevin said...

I think I worked on the Junior Prom decorations too. It was my only Prom.

I think Mr. Bacon found a math credit that I had misplaced so I could graduate, with the help of Mr. Bishop.

Felicia said...

Funny how people's brains are wired differently--I would have TOTALLY taken you for a geometry maven (strong visual and spatial perception skills, good with reasoning things through). Geometry was actually the one and only math class I actually enjoyed! I really liked doing proofs; I was never allowed to win arguments with my parents and siblings, but I *could* get major props in school for successfully arguing that angles A and B were the same. Yup, I was a weird kid!

Floridacracker said...

Ants in the kitchen? Must get crowded with the possum in the drawer and all. :)

Well, off the top of my head, if it's a cylindrical rail car like most I see, I would simply use the volume of a cylinder formula, The volume of a cylinder is pi times the square of the radius of the base times the height of the cylinder. If I knew it was half full like you said, I would divide my answer by 2.
But, that's just me.

Whew! That's good to know.

Justifiable hate too.

Sounds familiar.
No I have not seen that ant show. If it's Wilson, it should be good.

Aha! It took an artist to explain the effect. Thank you.

I don't know either because he said it was half full and tank cars have their gallonage posted on the outside of the tank. Let's just humor him. :)

I can picture that building project having done some joint remodeling projects...
Patience and a sense of humor go along way in the classroom, don'cha think?

Every 14 year old is a genius. Just ask them.

Nature doesn't care much for straight lines, although she may be partial to circles and arcs.

We knew it was no problem and we hated you for it ... except when you helped us.
Just kidding... :)

Subbing summer drivers ed for geometry? You must have had an aunt in the guidance dept.

Weird how those credits get misplaced.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I'm afraid proofs kicked my butt.

Doug Taron said...

I had almost the exact opposite of your experience. I always struggled with math except for geometry. I loved geometry. Integrating and differentiating trig functions is what saved me in calculus.

Chris said...

I never enjoyed math ... until I started geometry. Combining the math with pictures brought it all together for me ... I could SEE the concepts, it finally made sense! It could be why I pursued art, then ended up with science degrees. LOL, then again maybe I'm still confused. Now I am in IT, but my passion is photography.

Thunder Dave said...

Yeah,yeah, yeah,I should have said partially filled R/C! In which case you take into account the distance from the top to the surface of the liquid.

Now on to physics:
If your'e standing next to RR tracks heading north and south and a train is going south at 60mph, a waiter on that train is carrying a tray and walking at 2 mph north, and there is an ant on that try heading south at 1mph, how often should the bearings on the wheels of the train be greased? ;-)

amarkonmywall said...

Ant crop circles.