Room 201, Level 2, Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Age Level

14-18 18+
10:15 am - 11:00 am

How Many Degrees are in a Martian Circle?

Who chose the number 360 for the count of degrees in a circle? Why that number? And why do mathematicians prefer not to use that number for mathematics? Why is the chosen direction of motion in mathematics counterclockwise when the rest of world naturally chooses clockwise? Why are fingers and single digit numbers both called digits? Why do we humans like the numbers 10, 12, 20, and 60 particularly so? Why are logarithms so confusing? And why is base e the “natural” logarithm to use? What happened to the beautiful vinculum? (Bring back the vinculum, I say!) Why did human circle-ometry become trigonometry? Let’s spend a session together exploring tidbits from the human—and nonhuman—story and development of mathematics.

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This presentation will be repeated from 2:00-2:45pm.

Presented by:

Dr. James Tanton

Mathematical Association of America (MAA)

Dr. James Tanton is an author, a consultant, and an ambassador for the Mathematical Association of America in Washington D.C., currently serving as their Mathematician-at-Large. He has taught mathematics both…

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