Trying Really Does Matter

Matt and Hannah are the sort of people you wish you had teaching math to you at school. As a life long learner I’ve enjoyed their videos and what they’ve been able to teach me.

Recently, I wrote a post about the fallacy to find a single right answer and how that impacts our lives. This video demonstrates that multiple tries can actually improve the confidence of a singular data point.

Yes, it’d be cool to get it right the first time, but it’s also OK to keep trying and learn from each iteration. Here’s how to do it with Maths.

Try not to laugh so hard while you’re learning.

Is Zero an Even Number?

This might get filed on your list of questions you never knew existed, but it turns out it’s actually a well discussed question that’s been asked online since 1997. Quora has an article about it here and it looks like all sources point to the same answer (at least online). 

But having the same answer or even having the answer can often deprive someone of the valuable insight that comes from exploring the question.  Is Zero Even?  Those of you who’ve been regularly trolling the archives of this blog will remember finding that I’ve enjoyed the concept of Zero so much that I read a book about it back in 2016.

Since I find that the exploration of this question is so much fun and we’re not in person to have the conversation together, I’d like to supply a Numberphile video to help you through the thinking process.

Finding Zero: A Mathematician’s Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers

Where do our numbers come from?  This book is for anyone who’s asked that question and never liked the answer they received.  In this masterful telling of his personal quest to find the answer the author, Amir D. Aczel, skillfully guides the reader through the origin of his exposure to this question and the journey to discover its answer.

This book is written from the first person with a generous pen.  While most professional scholars will write in styles fit only for academic journals Amir writes this piece so the reader’s ability to comprehend mathematical concepts aren’t an issue in allowing them to enjoy the book.  I found it simply marvelous!  Not only in his style of narration but also in the way he artfully moves the reader through each page as if we were perched over his shoulder through this significant adventure.

Is finding 0 an adventure?  Yes!  While others have asked the question before most of them have stopped at the surface answers.  Amir decides to get to the root of those answers to discover the truth underneath the surface.  In his quest he describes staying in elegant palaces and dundgie hotels, getting lost in foreign countries, finding the oldest zero and then having it taken from him right under his nose.  Amir D. Aczel is basically the Indiana Jones for math nerds–even the ones whose grades were so good in math in high school (I got a D-).

Audible versions available, so if you’re traveling this holiday season, it’s worth picking up!