Did you know that April is Mathematics Awareness Month? In 1986, the US congress passed a legislation to promote the public awareness of mathematics and its use in the real world by inaugurating an annual event called the Mathematics Awareness Week.
This was eventually expanded to the Mathematics Awareness Month (MAM) and is now celebrated every year in April.
This year’s theme is ‘Mathematics of Sustainability'.
Mathematics In The Real World
Have you heard of the story of the four blind men and an elephant? It goes as follows.
Four blind men discover an elephant and since they have never encountered one before, they grope about, seeking to understand and describe this new phenomenon. One grasps the trunk and concludes it is a snake, another explores one of the elephant's legs and describes it as a tree, a third finds the elephant's tail and announces that it is a rope, while the fourth discovers the elephant's side and concludes that it is a wall. Each in his blindness describes the same thing - an elephant, in a radically different way!
Ask four people what math is and you will receive responses similar to these blind me. Each will describe math as they see it - as an academic subject to be learned, a tool for other subjects, maybe patterns of life that has inspired art.
Whatever it may be, the language of math is universal. It may surprise you that human beings did not invent math concepts. We just happened to discover them. This is because math is all around us in nature.
It is the basis of time, money, the distance, even the smartphones, computer games and videogames we rely on as well as the internet through which you are reading this article. In fact there is virtually nothing that math does not touch. We seldom appreciate the importance of math and get frustrated with the subject when we hit a wall and find it difficult to understand. If only we could see the big picture!
How about using this same math principles to find creative solutions to balance the resources we have on our planet and sustain our growing population? The ‘sustainability counts’ initiative of MAM, is an attempt to help us collectively explore ways to find creative solutions for a sustainable way of life using math.
Take for instance energy. Our societies are all based on petroleum. We also know that our resources are limited. But how much time do we have to come up with alternatives? Math can provide us answers. Solve the problem below to get some answers. Once we know, we can plan our energy alternatives better and avoid hitting a wall...