Friday, June 1, 2012

The Great Logarithm Battle Continues

I recently attended the St. Patrick High School graduation ceremony with a heavy heart.  One of my highest achieving students in math EVER, had just graduated and effectively removed himself from my sphere of influence with a mathematical misconception that would make lots of old, dead guys turn over in their graves.

We had just spent the better part of a whole school year arguing about which function was "better," the common logarithm (LOG), or the natural logarithm (ln).  To this day he still won't admit my mathematical dominance on the subject (probably out of spite), but I am unsure of whether he actually believes it or not.  I mean, his arguments are so feeble that I find it hard to believe he's actually being serious, but he debates with such passion, and with a sketchy little smile on his face, that I can't help but think he's just egging me on.  Well, either way I win, because I either have crushed him and his inferior claims, or he doesn't care at all so I win by default.

In any case, not that I expect this argument to ever end, but here are a few links that help support my side of the story.  It appears that the editors are scraping the bottom of the barrel for material on the common logarithm (not so common after all eh Joe?), but a plethora of material and applications for the natural logarithm are available.

Wikipedia Common Logarithm

Wikipedia Natural Logarithm

The fact that ln is graphically greater than log on the interval (1, infinity) and log is only graphically greater than ln on the interval (0, 1) only further lends credence to my impenetrable argument.

And all God's people said "Amen!"

The Math Mural has Arrived

Being a guy, a mathematician, and formerly a professional engineer has indeed limited my ability, passion, and motivation for decorating my room.  I've had comments from students and staff in years past that I need to spruce up my room a little bit (or a lot).  One comment that came from the MANS accreditation team last year was, "The Math Department bulletin boards are either boring or non-existent."  Well, now that it was officially on record that I was interior decoratingly challenged, I suppose I was accountable to fixing myself and my room up.  So this year, I made it my goal to make my room a little more inviting and personable, rather than the math dungeon that it had turned into.  I did the usual and ordered some posters and put up some decorations, but I had a hard time filling all of the space.  My room needed something more.

Coincidentally enough, I had the privilege of instructing a senior AP Calculus student this year who happens to be a very accomplished artist, and will be attending art school next year.  Part way through the year I realized that an excellent opportunity lay before me:  I could totally take advantage of her talents and commission her to paint a math mural over one of the bare spots on my wall!  What an EPIC idea!  On first mention, she thought it was a pretty sweet idea too, so we got to brainstorming.

The idea was to cover a bare spot with a tall window in the middle of it.  The general layout was to have Pi around the window, and then fill in the gaps with tons of mathematical know-how.  I left the creativity part up to her.  Well, the final result has been the talk of our little Catholic 100 student high school.  It's bright, colorful, and most importantly, chalk full of beautiful, mathematical truths.  Sigh.  Thanks for the amount of time and effort that went into this artwork Hannah.  You have truly left your mathematical mark on this school.  (And yes, that dragon is breathing mathematical fire.  You just can't see it from this distance)