More Quick Snippets

Published on Friday, October 25, 2013 in , , , , ,

Luc Viatour's plasma lamp pictureLast month's snippets focused on the simple and straightforward side of math.

I thought it might be fun to dabble in the other end of the spectrum, so this month's snippets focus on taming the seemingly complex side of math.

• One interesting mental challenge is what are known as Fermi estimates. These are estimates which are seemingly done with little or no information, yet give an accurate estimate to the nearest power of 10. The folks at TED-Ed produced the following video which explains the concept in more detail:

Learning how to do this can be a little tricky, as you really have to learn as you go. One of the best online tutorials I've run across as of this writing is this FermiQuestions.com tutorial. The more you learn, the better equipped you'll be to answer the sample questions they give at their website.

There's also a great book titled How Many Licks? that focuses on teaching you how to develop your Fermi estimation skills clearly and simply.

• If you enjoyed Vi Hart's video on dragons from August, you'll be glad to know she's produced two more videos in the same series. The second one in the series is called “Dragon Dungeons”:

...and the third in the series is called “Dragon Scales”:

• Speaking of dragons and other mathematical monsters, the Data Genetics blog has just posted an interesting tutorial on how to escape a monster (using calculus). Ideally, you'll have a basic understanding of calculus to understand what is going on in this fun article. Even if you don't, the article is still readable, and you get a good understanding of how the real world relates to the needed calculus.

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1 Response to More Quick Snippets

1:16 PM

Fermi problems are a lot of fun to do. There's another great book called Guesstimation: Solving the world's problems on the back of a Cocktail Napkin. It teaches how to solve these exact type of problems and then gives chapters with examples and answers. I think there is a sequel as well