School / science

Math and Academic papers

I have a pre-calculus exam in the late morning, and a take-home Epidemiology exam to turn in this evening. Other than explaining the rules of logarithms and exponents to you all, which I’m pretty sure no one wants to hear (at least not on my blog) I can’t think what to say.

I did run across as interesting article on the Passive Voice blog earlier, about academic publishing, and the damage it does to long-term research. On top of the recent scandal over nonsense papers, this one caught my attention. Just as I am studying to become a scientist, all this is coming to the surface, and what does it bode for science?

I’m off to scrawl theorems and formulas on the whiteboard. I’m torn between annoyance at my instructor, for forcing us to take a straightforward equation, and rather than solving it straight off, we are to take the scenic route and ‘make math beautiful.’ While I understand his motivation behind getting us to thoroughly understand what we are doing, and why, it also seems like a really good waste of time. I do it anyway. Discipline, and all that. *growl* Which I will model for the younglings in class.

The Epidemiology exam ought to be interesting – I haven’t looked at it yet, no time – as we have been essentially learning how to read scientific papers, and how to read them with a critical eye. It’s good to know how to do, and how to interpret the statistical data for a full understanding of the results. We are also looking at how the news often misunderstands and misreports the data, particularly in epidemiological studies. It’s fascinating.

Ok, I’m off to be boring somewhere else, now. I have a book to review for tomorrow, with discussion of it in more depth than I usually do in my reviews. I’ll find time to do that somewhere…


6 thoughts on “Math and Academic papers

  1. There’s been a long thread this week at work about slide rules. If you need to discuss practical applications of logarithms that would make a nice example.


      • I was in the last chemistry class in my high school that used them. I have one of my grandfather’s old ones around somewhere. Another comment from that thread was that using a slide rule really brought home scientific notation and significant digits as well. Some things get lost when computers do the thinking for us.


        • We were taught scientific notation and sig figs last semester in Chm 131, and as I’m tutoring 4 students this semester I find it interesting how hard they find those concepts.


  2. In all your math-heavy papers, have you yet been introduced to the Cult of LaTeX?

    (I’m an acolyte myself, and can answer many common questions: ‹›.)


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