One of my favorite bloggers, Kevin Drum, decided to relieve the tedium of our current political anarchy by whacking the hornets’ nest of the high school mathematics curriculum, in particular the subject of plane geometry. You can tell from the tag list on my blog that I hold plane geometry in high regard and can’t let this gibe pass without some rebuttal, futile as it may be. Actually, I am not going to weigh in on the general issue of the current math curriculum that much, but rather make a few observations from my own experience over the years as it relates to Kevin’s post.
Twitter comments to the recently released GDP growth numbers for the Third Quarter reminded me of an old trap regarding percentages. The financial and technical articles were accurate, but the comments by Twitter users often reflected the pitfall.
After a Second Quarter annualized US GDP fall of about 33%, the Third Quarter showed a gain of about 33%. So some commenters thought the gain canceled the previous loss.
Given the mathematical nature of this website I feel reluctantly impelled to address the coronavirus pandemic. The mathematics behind the spread of infection is basically the same exponential growth that I discussed in the “Math and Religion” post and has recently been explained by the ever-lucid Grant Sanderson at his 3Blue1Brown website.
What I wish to draw attention to is the series of posts on the coronavirus by Kevin Drum on his website at Mother Jones. I have collected his recent posts comparing the spread of the virus in various countries and added some mathematical commentary of my own, which is the content of this post.
But the bottom line seems to be that in virtually all the countries, including the US, the virus infection is spreading at the Italian rate of doubling every 4 days! The readers of this website are sufficiently numerate to realize the frightening import of that number. If that weren’t enough, Kevin provides additional posts on the results of the modeling at the Imperial College that are truly nerve-wracking for someone such as myself in the most vulnerable cohort. The only blessing so far seems to be that, for once, the children are spared.
At this time, I don’t have the stomach to keep updating the post as new numbers come in. That may change. I could address the catastrophe of having ignorance and incompetence at the helm of the national ship of state, but it is too depressing.
See the Coronavirus Mathematics
(Updates 3/17/2020, 3/21/2020, 4/17/2020, 9/20/2020, 10/1/2020) Continue reading