### And now for an "intellegent post"

So after I got through posting all the pictures, I laughed and said, “I know, stupid post”. Felicia just sits there and says, “I could put you down, but I’m not going to”. Hmm, does that mean she’d

*like*to? Hehe.

Therefore, I endeavor to create an intelligent post!

I’ve currently been reading a book that I found in a local bookstore chain. I, of course, put the book back on the shelf and searched online and was able to find the book for 1/3 of the cover price :-D. Once I finally got it, I was able to read my new (slightly used) book called “A Tour of the Calculus”, by David Berlinski, a fellow Pol.. {Why he insists on always calling it

*the*calculus is beyond me, but he does it throughout the entire book.}

The major thing that interested me about the book is the writing. The New Your Times has a quote on the cover from a review: “Playful, witty, highly literate… a wonderful and enlightening book.” That’s the book, pretty much to the tee!

To give you an example, here is a quote that I was reciting to Felicia on our way to the car after the bookstore visit: “An irresistible inference is in conflict with an inescapable fact [Zeno’s diamond-bright little argument serving to invest the ordinary with a lurid aspect of the impossible].”

Zeno is a Greek from the 5th Century B.C. that argued to cross a room you must first cross 1/2 of the room, then 1/2 of that, and so on. In this manner, crossing by halves, you will never get to the other side. Interesting argument, but as the author points out, given infinite time, we’ll pretty well be there. Reminds me of a day in high school math class where one of the class clowns was goofing off as usual. Our teacher at the time, Mr. Seymour (old school, down to the crew cut and plastic, black rimmed glasses) was talking about some fractional progression that was very similar. He told our class clown that if he went and got a basketball from the gym and let it bounce on the floor that it would never stop bouncing, since it was always bouncing a fractional amount less each time. Well, the kid jumped right up and headed for the door saying something like, “I’ll go get one!”

Ah, Mr. Seymour. He was one of my favorite teachers. I recall one time I didn’t do the homework (math came so easy to me, I didn’t always bother to do it… most the time doing it during class) and he asked me to do a problem on the board. Duh! Well, I got up there and started doing a Pooh Bear since I forgot the formula to use: “think, think, think…” Eventually, I figured if I couldn’t remember the formula, I’d have to recreate it, because I knew he wouldn’t let me go back to my seat until I tried something. I ended up reproving the formula in a round-a-bout way, solving the problem and somehow

*knowing*it was correct. After I got to my seat I saw him looking at the unorthodox method I took to solve the problem. He just nodded and said, “It’s the manipulation of numbers, Bagrowski.” That’s been one of my favorite quotes ever since.

But I digress (-grin-). Back to the book…

He, David Berlinski, starts talking about the natural numbers and how they go on forever, and how could you conceive of “forever” without thinking of the natural numbers? But, ah, there’s a problem with the natural numbers. Addition and multiplication work just fine, but what about subtraction? Say if you try to take 5 items away from a group that only consists of those same 5? Natural numbers begin at 1! Of course, now you have nothing, but what is that nothing called? “It required an act of profound intellectual audacity to assign a name and hence a symbol to all that nothingness. Nothing, Nada, Zip, Zero, 0.” I just cracked up over that statement: “…profound intellectual audacity…” LOL!

This sets the stage for discussion of negative numbers. Then fractions. I feel like he’s going to make sure to start from stage one to get all the way to calculus (sorry David,

*the*calculus). Which I suppose is just as well, I’ve forgotten so much since high school and college.

Yes, I was geek enough that I took calculus in high school (ok, “pre”-calculus). It allowed me to breeze through my college calculus courses. Having only qualified to skip 2 of the 4 calculus courses that I had to take for Computer Engineering, I opted to start right at the beginning. I was able to talk my mother into this (since she was paying for my college at this point) and she knew that I could skip the first two, by postulating that I might need an easy course or two to help ease myself into college. Boy, I was right.

Of course, by the end of my 2nd year, it wasn’t college that was the problem; it was my blind drive for women. Having attended an all boys high school, and not being the most social of people, girls were just wonderfully plentiful and beautiful and, well, you know ;) It’s not that I never dated. I actually had a girlfriend in my Sr. year. I just never had any nookie! Now I was trying to catch up. Stupid. I ended up having to drop out of that college and go to the community college instead… where I ended up majoring in pool (billiards). Such a misspend youth. And now here I am playing poker!

Since I seem to have turned this “intelligent post” into nostalgic recollections, I’ll cut off my ramblings right here! Let me just end by saying, if you enjoy mathematics (perhaps you were a geek like me ;) I highly recommend this book, “A Tour of the Calculus”, by David Berlinski. He’s got a great sense of humor and an affinity with word play. And besides, he’s Polish!

Take care, God bless.

Posted by Glenn

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