The 14th of March is annually known as International World Maths Day. Over time, there have been many influential and prominent people who have added to our bank of Maths knowledge, from Pythagoras to Ada Lovelace. It is because of these discoveries that so many advancements in the 21st century have been made possible.
Pythagoras is perhaps the most famous name in Maths due to his theory relating the sides of a right angle triangle, to its angles. Why should you care about Pythagoras I hear you ask. Given two straight lines, the theorem allows you to calculate the length of the diagonal connecting them. This knowledge is of particular importance due to its wide range of uses. It is frequently applied and used in architecture, woodwork, physical construction projects, navigation and so much more.
Consider, for example, if you are building or designing a sloped roof - be that for a house, a box of chocolates or a cupboard. If you know the height of the roof, and the length for it to cover, you can find the diagonal length of the roof’s slope. Alternatively, if you just happen to be navigating at sea, you can use the theorem to calculate the distance from your ship to the point 300 miles North, and 300 miles West. Although that may not seem of particular help now, for many sailors in the past, this information was vital.
Hypatia was a mathematician, philosopher and scholar at the library in Alexandria. She was the first woman to make a real impact on the to the development of mathematics. Over time Hypatia became a brilliant public speaker and influential individual as she did work on algebraic equations, invented the astrolabe for ship navigation and devices which measure the density of fluids. An astrolabe determines the latitude of a ship at sea using the sun’s altitude.
Essentially, Math is all around all of us. It is a tool which can be used to help understand the world around us better. “To live in a mathematically-driven world and not know math is like walking through an art museum with your eyes closed,” to learn and appreciate Maths and the concepts it entails will help you to understand and appreciate the world at a greater depth.
Another interesting figure is Ada Lovelace. She is considered by some to be the world’s first computer programmer. She was the daughter of Lord Byron (an interesting character if you haven’t heard of him before) and described by many as an ‘Enchantress of Numbers.’ She understood that numbers are used to represent more than just quantities, and a machine could manipulate data represented by numbers. Lovelace predicted that the ‘Analytical Engine’ could be used to compose music, produce graphics and be of use to Science - all of which has since come true.
In one’s personal life, Maths is extremely useful to understand too. It helps with understanding finances, and being able to budget. Maths makes you (generally) a better cook or baker. And, it improves problem-making skills. So if you previously had little knowledge of the benefits of Math prior to reading this article, I hope you have learnt something new and are inspired to go and find out more. Research doesn’t have to be tedious either. Try following a new recipe and experiment with quantities to see the impact on the quality of food and taste!
Happy World Maths day.