Monday, March 2, 2009

She was right!

Today, Ariel threw open the front door, glided into the living room and announced, “I was right!” Cal, Matt, Jacob, and I looked up from our lunch of leftover spaghetti and murmured, “Great…” Ariel flounced into her seat and proceeded to give us all the grim details of her “rightness.”

Now, before I translate, I should inform you that before I became a homeschooling mom I worked at a huge publishing company as a technical writer. A science technical writer. Ponder that for a moment—my degree is in English literature. Anyway, I wrote summaries of the articles for the reference materials of published research journals. Among the journals I wrote for: Journal of Solid State Chemistry, Icarus (an astrophysics journal, at least that’s what I thought it was), Genomics, Virology, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, and the Journal of Computational Mathematics. Thus, despite my aversion to mathematics, I should be competent to explain this to you. (I was also assigned to summarize all the articles that came in that were written in languages no one else could read, including Japanese and some language that used the Cyrillic alphabet. They told me it was because I was so good at explaining things I didn’t understand. Sure. Personally, I think it was because I complained the least.)

Sorry for the digression. Back to Ariel’s “rightness.” Apparently, she found a shortcut to calculating area between curved surfaces based on the y-axis. Ariel pointed it out last Friday to her professor. Her professor told her that while it would seem to be accurate and does occasionally work (other students had mentioned it in the past), it couldn’t work all the time. Ariel explained, “But it must—you just do a transformational rotation of 90 degrees, redefine all the variables, run the calculations, and then re-redefine all the variables back to their original definitions.” I guess the professor spent the weekend verifying Ariel’s theory—what a waste of a dreary, wet, miserable weekend! At any rate, the professor announced that the transformational-redefining-thingy did indeed work and that Ariel (and her friend) could use it on the exams, but only if they included a note explaining what they were doing so the professor would be able to follow their calculations. But, she went on to say, that she would NOT be using it in class because she didn’t want to confuse anyone.

Personally, I’m not sure why this is even exciting. I mean, I understand that it’s very cool to “be right.” But it seems to me that with all this rotation, transformation, and redefinition, it’s probably faster to do it the “hard” way. But that’s just me.


  1. It really was not such a monumental discovery; I'm sure someone else would've thought of it if I hadn't. And I'm sure Ms. Schoonover didn't spend all weekend thinking about it :) She just had to decide how she was going to grade it if we did that. I'm glad she's allowing it. It takes so much longer otherwise.


  2. I agree. It just may be best to use the "longway" instead of the "shortcut." Either way, Math is confusing. Erg.

  3. Mind boggling! And that's why I went to art school... :)

  4. Did Ariel use the same words that you said she did on the blog? I don't think I ever heard anybody actually say something so complicated and mind boggling.

  5. It's not really that much trouble to do it the right way, you just have to remember that you are using "Y" instead of "X"