Yet Still More Quick Snippets

Published on Thursday, January 23, 2014 in , , , , , , , , , , ,

Luc Viatour's plasma lamp pictureFor January's snippets, I'm featuring an unusual mix.

This time around, I've got 3 different things for you: Math, memory...and Macs?!?

Numberphile took a breather from their usual number videos to do something a bit different. They interviewed UC Berkeley professor Edward Frenkel with the question, “Why do people hate mathematics?” It's an interesting topic and well worth your time:

• In the video above, they talk about the important roles of math teachers. Longtime Grey Matters readers know that I'm not just a big proponent of memorizing, but rather memorizing along with understanding. Above and beyond great sites that aid in mathematical understanding, such as BetterExplained and Plus magazine, there's also an excellent free ebook called Nix The Trix. It's aimed at students who are great with shortcuts, but never took the time to understand the foundations of what those tricks are actually doing. It can help teachers undo the damage by showing how to teach the actual mathematical basis, which is also a great help in understanding when to use the math tricks.

• Almost just in time for this month's snippets, Reddit featured an interesting and popular thread asking, “What are some things worth memorizing?” Yes, of course, there are the usual array of sarcastic and silly answers, but if you take the time to wade through some of the roughly 12,000 comments (at this writing), there are some great ideas. I won't rob you of the joy of discovery, especially as the reply you most enjoy may not even exist yet as I write this!

• If you've ever memorized something with the help of spaced learning, where the concept you're trying to memorize is reinforced 3 times at spaced intervals, you know how powerful it can be. There's now an online web service called MemStash which help you do this almost automatically. You save things you wish to remember by highlighting them in an online page, and then clicking a special MemStash bookmarklet. After that, they'll send you 3 reminders at spaced intervals, which can help you recall what you saved!

• OK, this last snippet isn't really along the usual Grey Matters topics, but I thought it would be fun to sneak it in. 30 years ago this week, the Apple Macintosh computer first came on the market. During Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984, they aired their now-classic 1984 ad, announcing the upcoming release of the Macintosh on January 24th. The lesser-known January 24, 1984 introduction of the Macintosh has also been preserved on video:

That's all for this month's snippets. I hope you enjoy them!

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