Fibonacci

May 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Unknown-1Title: The Man of Numbers

Author: Keith Devlin, PhD

Publisher: Walker & Company

Genre: Math History

Length: 183 pages

Swirl by Swirl – a child’s picture book – is where it started.  We checked it out from the library once, then twice, and finally again and again.  It’s about the Fibonacci sequence found in so many spirals in our natural world.  We love it.  Of course, it has a bit in the back about the Fibonacci sequence and the math involved, and that’s cool too, something to instill in young minds so that theP1000952re is familiarity with the topic before they begin Algebra in their tweens.

Of course, at some point I picked up The Pythagorean Theorem, and there Posamatier mentions Ptolemy and his great work The Algamest as well as Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci. Naturally, I requested these at my local library.  “There’s a book about Fibonacci called The Man of Numbers that’s here if you want to read that while you wait for the others to come in,” she told me.  Yes, yes, I would like to read that while I wait for the others.

I checked it out.

I ended up starting and finishing it, however, in one sitting while my kiddo made use of the sixty minute literacy computer session I allow her if she’s been good prior to coming to the library that day.  It was good.  Quick.  Informative.  And of course, just made me want Liber Abaci even more.

Devlin gives you all the necessary history in the concise nature of a mathematician.  He even laments how most mathematicians are concerned about the math and the theorems and not necessarily who originally came up with them or their history, causing much of the history surrounding mathematical ideas to be lost or misconstrued.  Who cares? It’s about the numbers.

I care.  Historians care.  We don’t care as much about the numbers as we do about the theory, the philosophy… we care about math’s heritage more than the practice of being all mathy.  At least that’s how I feel.  I’ll leave number crunching to my husband and daughter – I’ll just be able to tell them who came up with that particular way to crunch.

With all this caring comes the discovery that Fibonacci’s name wasn’t even Fibonacci.  Devlin recounts the fact that the man’s name was Leonardo and he hailed from Pisa.  Leonardo Pisano, as the people of that time and culture would say.  But he referred to himself as fillies Boracic, “son of Bonacci.”  Yet, his father’s name wasn’t Bonacci, so people assumed he meant that he was of the family Bonacci… the Bonacci family evolved and later historian Guillaume Libri coined the name Fibonacci.  Hundreds of years later.  Leonardo was renamed Fibonacci in 1838.

Fibonacci also referred himself as Leonardo Bigolli… a named once translated would be “Leonardo Blockhead.”  Though, Devlin asserts, it’s doubtful that Fibonacci was calling himself a blockhead.

Unknown-2That brings us to our latest picture book selection… Blockhead: the life of Fibonacci.  This delightful picture book was written by Joseph D’Agnese and was illustrated by John O’Brien.  Even though there’s a lot we don’t know about Fibonacci’s real life or how he came to discover his mathematical findings the way he did – it’s fun to imagine what his life was like and where he might have come up with his self-proclaimed nickname “Bigolli.”

For good measure, we re-read Swirl by Swirl afterward and are looking forward to memorizing a few things in the upcoming months.

The first is from Brahmagupta (quoted in Devlin’s book):

“A debt minus zero is a debt.

A fortune minus zero is a fortune.

Zero minus zero is a zero.

A debt subtracted from zero is a fortune.

A fortune subtracted from zero is a debt.

The product of zero multiplied by a debt or fortune is zero.”

The second are the first ten numbers in the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55.

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Pythagoras, History , Music, and Reality

May 6, 2015 at 4:39 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

51emwyTkxmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Pythagorean Theorem: the Story of Its Power and Beauty

Author: Alfred S. Posamentier

Genre: Mathematic History

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Length: 320 pages

I’m not sure why I picked it up.  I didn’t even particularly care for math in school.  Geometry was not my strongest suit – but it was fairly easy math that I slithered through with the least possible amount of effort of any of my math courses.  But I was at the library one day and this geometric tree design was staring at me – I’d been collecting everything I could on trees because I am determined to become a certified arborist by the time I turn 40 – and upon impulse I through it in my “shopping” bag.

It might have been because I saw that it was about the Pythagorean theorem, and just a few years ago I attended a MENSA meeting where Andy Tang spoke on the topic.  The lecture was riveting, the discussion entertaining, and the wine pretty great for free stuff.  The event coordinator in me wanted to host his art exhibit at one of the bookstores I work with.  This didn’t happen, but there was such an exhibit led by him in Austin:

The community art exhibition “Pythagoras (and Austinites) Discovering the Musical Intervals” invites you to discover the story of what Pythagoras heard at the blacksmiths’ workshop. Continuing the tradition of passing down this ancient tale, this art show showcases Austin-area artwork through interactive, musical, and visual interpretations. (https://www.facebook.com/events/308042019293116/)

Whatever it was that possessed me, I picked up the book.  I read the book.  I enjoyed the book – a lot.  More than I could have thought I would enjoy a math book.

Although, let’s be honest, I enjoyed it for the philosophy and history, not so much for the endless diagrams and presentations on how the theorem works.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I took that math class, I get it, and it’s cool, but I was really into the book for the tidbits about Fibonacci and then later, Bosman.  Bosman, by the way, is the guy that came up with the Pythagorean tree featured on the front cover.

I read this book for the whole chapter on music – that ties into that Andy Tang lecture I loved so much.  I read this book because I was a “Choir Queer” in high school and loved chamber music and found it completely fascinating how much math and music were so intertwined.  And of course, any one who does math and attempts music theory ends up asking the same questions:

“[…] do we simiply measure the distances between pitches or do we seek some measurable property of the pitches themselves that allows us to determine their relationships to other pitches […]”

Pythagoras had an answer.  And he’s an old, dead dude, and I love reading ancient history and things on or by old, dead dudes.  Except, naturally, Pythagoras was a top secret kind of guy and left no writings of his own behind and everything we know about him is second hand at best.)

Which leaves me diving into Philolaus, Plato, and Aristotle, and itching to get into Xenophon and see if anything is mentioned there because Herodotus didn’t spend nearly enough time on him.

I read this book thinking about Alyssa Martin’s Pythagoras cake bust.  She owns The Martin Epicurean – and cake that looks like a face – how cool is that?

I read this book because I will pretty much read anything, but especially because I love science more than my student transcripts could possibly portray – mostly because I avoided science courses like the plague.  I like the philosophies of science and concepts… I don’t care for the formulas and the math, but I’ll learn them ok if there isn’t any testing. Oh God, my test taking anxiety is insane… but reading up on it all, I love that.  After all, it suits my passions:

“Science is the discipline that attempts to describe the reality of the world around us, including the nature of living organisms, by rational means.” – Dr. Herbert A. Hauptman, Nobel Laureate

This one is a keeper.  I checked it out from the library, but I plan to purchase it when it comes time for kiddo to read it.  It’s an educational must-have.

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Swirl By Swirl

March 9, 2015 at 4:42 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Title: Swirl By Swirl

Authors: Beth Krommes & Joyce Sidman

Genre: Picture Book / Educational

We actually read this one quite a bit ago, I was hoping to review it when I finally got around to purchasing it, but I can’t wait any longer.  It’s too wonderful to keep under wraps any longer and it has been an inspiration to my kiddo who now draws swirls and “round ups” into all her artwork.

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The book is all about finding math in nature.  About how snails, flowers, and everything have mathematical patterns that create functional things we can see.  It first page by page identifies all these things… spider webs, tendrils on foliage, the curls of animals’ tails, etc.

Then, it explains the how and why of it all.

Kiddo’s eye lit up at the end of the book every time (we had to read it over and over again before we turned it back into the library).  My four year old’s mind was blown.

P1000956 I want to have this book on hand when she’s older as well, to revisit and enjoy the beautiful illustrations again and again through out her studies.  It’s so lovely.

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An Autistic History

February 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

notevenwrongTitle: Not Even Wrong

Author: Paul Collins

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Memoir/ Psychology

Length: 245 pages

I’ve journaled nearly twenty pages of commentary on this book.  Now, having finished it, I’m not sure what I should share and what should be kept to myself.

Collins does a spectacular job sharing memoir with known history, diving into tales from the world and mixing it with tales from his personal world.  The first few chapters are dedicated to his pursuit of Peter the Wild Boy and an existing desire to write a biography on the mysterious boy who was ‘rescued’ by King George. (Reference to the boy made in Notes and Queries, of course.)  Collins later discovers his son is autistic.

The entire book is an ode to his son and his autism.  An ode to their life, their relationship, the world of Autists.

Therefore a lot of information is shared regarding what that means.  A lot of reflection on the gene pool it takes to cook up such a neurological anomaly that is an essential part of humanity as a whole.  The trifecta being science, art, and math.

Collins writes on page 96:

Apparently we have been walking around with the genetic equivalent of a KICK ME sign:

my father: mechanical engineer

jennifer’s father: musician, math major

my brother: phd in computing

jennifer: painter

me

At this point, I remember taking my own personal inventory.  My father is a civil engineer, not only that he was a musician and painter, and suffers from what I think is undiagnosed and extremely mild tourettes (also discussed in Collins’ book).  My immediate cousins and family members on that side of the family are musicians and scientists.  Some work in labs, some in an engineering field.  Although I’ve been an English and History girl my whole life, much to my father’s chagrin, I was raised by and around extremely scientific minds.  I think I get all the feelings and other eccentricities from my mother’s side.  But in a parallel universe, had I somehow procreated with people I had dated in college rather than the love of my life whom I married – musicians, computer geeks, Synesthesiacs (also discussed in Collins’ book) – I think I was very close to wearing that KICK ME sign as well.

Looking at the world through the eyes of Collins’ research, I think many people have been close to wearing that sign.  I think everyone should read through this book and see just how close.  It’s enlightening.  It’s scary.  It’s beautiful.

There are so many amazing people through out history who have changed the face of humanity – the way we work – integral parts of society and science… and they were very likely autistic.   Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Glenn Gould, Andy Warhol, Paul Erdos.  These people are essential to who we are as a species today.  These people have made our world more beautiful, even though they are very likely to be the same people described on page 109:  “Imagine if you tried to pretend to understand people, but didn’t really.  So you rehearse it all in your head: taking notes, analyzing every social action, trying to connect it all together.”  I don’t have to imagine.  I may not be a genius like Albert Einstein, I may not be as clever as Glenn Gould, and I’m certainly not nearly as eccentric as Andy Warhol – but I know all about rehearsing, taking notes, analyzing, and still feeling quite out of the loop.  A little bit of understanding from the rest of the world goes a long way in my book – even though I’m not so good at understanding the rest of the world, I’m trying to be better about it.

“You know, it used to be that when I saw someone acting or talking strangely, or just being odd on the bus, I’d think to myself: What’s his problem? I still have that reaction.  But now I stop, pause, and have a second thought: No, really, what is that man’s problem? There is a decades-long chain of events that created the person who are seeing.” – pg. 213

Paul Collins brings a little bit of humanity and the importance of curiosity and empathy into ALL his work.  For that I adore him, and will always adore him, forever.

On that note, I want to check out the artwork of his wife.  I love art.  I love paintings.  I am the CMO of an art company called Aoristos and I’m curious to see the style of art the spouse of my favorite author paints.  If anyone knows and can provide reliable links – please do.

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Eratosthenes

October 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Measured-EarthTitle: The Librarian Who Measured The Earth

Author: Kathryn Lasky

Illustrations: Kevin Hawkes

I stumbled on this book by complete accident.  Most my homeschooling tools I seek out or find while searching the non-fiction section with a thought in mind.  This book I merely acquired and had no idea it was going to be added to our core curriculum.

Although I love the Sir Cumference books, I often wondered how I would properly include those books into a classical education for my child when studying the circumference belongs in the times of Ancient Greece.  Now I have my solution.  Sir Cumference will be fun re-iteration of facts learned.  Where The Librarian Who Measured will definitely be a part of our first years of school.

EratosthenesI’m sure I learned about this guy at some point in school, but it didn’t sink in.  His name didn’t even sound vaguely familiar when I started reading this story to kiddo before bed last night.  But as I read, my mind raced to the day we will sit and discuss Eratothenes in context.  We will talk about Ancient Greece and the ancient libraries.  We will discuss oranges and circumferences.  We will talk about the planet and maps of the world.  We will study things in a manner in which she will remember it – as opposed to a passing one liner in a text book.  This book made me happy for days of school in our future.

 

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Weekly Low Down on Kids Books – Math Adventures

January 12, 2013 at 4:10 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

sircumference1Title: Sir Cumference and the First Round Table

Author: Cindy Neuschwander

Illustrator: Wayne Geehan

I think everyone who has talked to me for longer than a minute and a half about children’s books knows how much I adore Brian P. Cleary and his books on grammar and math, but I have yet to thoroughly discuss other educational picture books.  Mainly, because even though I collect them, kiddo hasn’t quite grown up enough for us to attempt them with purpose.  Today, however, we took the bull by the horns and branched out.

So a two year old who still stumbles through her ABC song, can only manage some really intense stripes when writing, and can only identify circles and triangles isn’t really ready for a book about circumferences, diameters, the concept of a radius, parallelograms, diamonds, and all that, but that’s when it is perfect to start reading these stories.  By the time she needs the information, I want the stories thoroughly engrained in her mind.

Sir Cumference is a knight, married to Lady Di of Ameter, father of a short-stack son named Radius.  With their help, King Arthur is able to come up with a plan to keep his knights on their best behavior as they discuss the well-being of Camelot.  Add to the cast of characters a carpenter named Geo of Metry, the books instill all the basic concepts of geometry in the disguise of some exciting fake King Arthur folklore.  Start reading the books to your kid from birth through early elementary school and you’ve got one math savvy child without even trying.  As a home school mom with a serious distaste for math, I want my kid to enjoy it and make her life a lot easier than mine was by the time her high school curriculum comes along.

For slightly older kids, I’d say ages 5-10, the book easily lends itself to hands on activities.  Paper projects, baking projects, even wood working if you were bold and wanted to make an actual play table, the story takes you step by step through cutting a rectangle down into all the various shapes.  And, of course, it’s a series.  Click the Sir Cumference link to purchase from Amazon. Click the collection image to go to another blogger’s reviews.

Other Sir Cumference titles include:

sircumcollectionSir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi

Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens

Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map

Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter

Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland

Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone

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Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson – A Review

December 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

Title: Einstein: His Life and Universe

Author: Walter Isaacson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genre: Non-fiction, Biography, Science

Length: 675 pgs.

Buy Now!

Albert Einstein was a prick.  Not the description you were expecting?  Me neither.  We always hear about how brilliant he was, how much he changed humanity and the world of science with his great theories.  We always see images of his goofy, yet charmingly wild smile and hair.  We don’t see him through the eyes of the family he abandoned.

Isaacson is thorough in his research and the language of his biography of Einstein is easy and accessible.  He sheds a lot of light on physics formulas that I had a hard time grasping in my high school science classes.  But he also sheds a lot of light on Einstein the not-so-family man.

Not only did he and his wife abandon their first child, a girl who history has nearly erased,

“[Hans Albert, Einstein’s son] had powerfully conflicted attitudes towards his father.  That was no surprise.  Einstein was intense and compelling and at times charismatic.  He was also aloof and distracted and had distanced himself, physically and emotionally, from the boy, who was guarded by a doting mother who felt humiliated.”

Einstein eventually divorced his wife, but not before maintaining an emotional affair with his cousin Elsa.  “Companionship without commitment suited him just fine,” Isaacson writes about how Einstein toyed with both women’s heartstrings by alternating his attentions between them.  In the end Einstein and Elsa did marry, but not before a questionable letter was written by Elsa’s daughter to a friend that mentioned Einstein’s true love interest was the twenty year old daughter, not the mother.

Isaacson’s presentation of Einstein is a great book for high school science and history students.  Anyone trying to understand the genius’s formulas should also understand the history surrounding their creation/discovery.  His life is also one to discuss with your teen touchy topics of worldview and the importance of values; world changing discovery vs. the importance of family, political and religious affiliations and observations.  Each family’s opinion of Einstein’s life will most likely be different, and its one that should be surveyed and critically analyzed.

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