Humans aren’t the only Species using Math

Plants can do math!

A recent study published in the journal eLife found that plants can perform basic math functions. Scientists discovered that plants perform basic division at the molecular level to ration their food source overnight when sunlight is not available. To read the complete article, Click here.

In addition to this new and remarkable discovery, many animal species have been observed using math in nature and have exhibited numbers sense in scientific studies.

Bees have displayed high intelligence in many scientific studies. Perhaps one of the most impressive examples is a 2010 study in which honeybees outperformed computers when determining the shortest route to fly between flowers. They were able to solve the so-called ‘Traveling Salesman‘ problem more quickly than the computers programmed to do so. That’s a lot of brain power in a small package! Read more about the study here.

Dolphins are widely regarded as one of the most intelligent animals. Next to the human brain, the dolphin brain is the most complex and powerful brain in the animal kingdom. A 2005 study conducted by the Dolphin Research Center provided conclusive evidence that dolphins can comprehend relative numerosity, or realize that numbers can be ‘more or less’ than others. The study was published in the APA’s Journal of Comparative Psychology and can be found here. A more recent study suggests that dolphins may actually be able to perform much more advanced nonlinear math.

It may not come as a complete surprise that monkeys are capable of learning math concepts given that they are humans’ closest relatives. It may come as a surprise, however, just how well they can perform. “Monkeys can perform mental addition in a manner remarkably similar to college students.” The primates that participated in a Duke University study surprised even the scientists when they quickly grasped basic addition and processed their responses similarly to the students involved.

Did you know that pigeons have the capacity to learn higher level math and abstract number rules? A 2011 study showed that pigeons can learn these concepts as well as monkeys can. It looks like Alex the Grey Parrot wasn’t such an anomaly in the winged world.

Have you heard of another surprising math genius? Share your comments with us!

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Math in the News: Best Jobs 2013

Once again, math skills prove to be quite valuable and profitable in the workplace. For the Best Jobs of 2013 on, actuaries have the #1 spot in the ranking.

In Lauren Weber’s article for The Wall Street Journal, “Dust Off Your Math Skills: Actuary is Best Job of 2013,” actuary Pete Rossi describes the many benefits of his job, including low stress, reasonable hours, and a good wage.

Math also plays an integral role in many of the other top ranking jobs for 2013. From software engineer to financial planner, the college courses needed to graduate and the subsequent careers themselves utilize math in varying ways.


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Math in the News: Walking vs. Running

Researchers say that walking is as good for you as running, but you’ll have to walk approximately twice as long for comparable benefits.

In Jenny Hope’s article on Mail Online, Paul T Williams of Berkeley National Laboratory in California “estimates a person would need to walk 4.3 miles at a brisk pace to have the same amount of exercise as running 3 miles. It would take twice as long – around an hour and 15 minutes instead of 38 minutes.”

Using the information listed, what rate do you have to walk to get the same benefit as jogging? By dividing the distance by the time, we calculate 4.3 miles divided by 1.25 hours (1 hour and 15 minutes), resulting in a rate of 3.44 mi/h.

What is the jogging rate? Using the same method, we calculate 3.0 miles divided by 0.633 hours (38 minutes), which is a rate of about 4.74 mi/h.

To learn more about rate, distance, and time, check out Chapter 1 of Math & YOU.

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Math & YOU Wins the 2013 Most Promising Textbook Award

We are excited to announce that the The Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) awarded the first edition, of Math and You: The Power and Use of Mathematics, by Ron Larson, a 2013 Most Promising New Textbook.

The Most Promising New Textbook was created 2012, to recognize current textbooks and learning materials, still in their first editions. Judges are published textbook authors.



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Are You Ready for College?

It’s typical to hear students, especially high school seniors, echoing a resounding “I’m so ready for college.” However, statistics reveal quite a different story when it comes to academic college preparedness.

The majority of high school students describe high school as too easy and feel that they are ready for college. However, even students with high school GPAs above a 3.0 are commonly unprepared for college courses.

What do you think – are you ready for college?

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Math in the News: Pop Culture

Math is making a splash in pop culture with references in popular shows like CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and Numb3rs.

Noting more examples, in the article “Nerd Power: Math Flexes Its Muscles in Pop Culture,” Kirk Baird explores the topic of mathematics in mainstream media.

Many people in math-related fields are excited about the shift to real life mathematics and applications being mentioned and discussed in the media. It may be a gateway for students to view mathematics as useful and relevant.

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Math in the News: Caffeine

How much caffeine is too much?

If you’re pulling an all-night study session or dragging yourself to class Monday morning, you might be tempted to grab a coffee or an energy drink to keep you going.

Caffeine is like magic when you need to stay awake and alert. With the multitude of caffeinated products on the market, from sodas to energy drinks to coffee beverages, it’s easy to fuel up when needed.

The problem is that too much caffeine can actually have negative side effects like headache, nervousness, insomnia, and fast heartbeat. In extreme cases, too much caffeine can lead to seizures and a visit to the ER.

To see how much caffeine your favorite beverages contain, visit The Atlantic’s “How Much Caffeine Before I End Up in the E.R.?” for a list of common drinks and associated caffeine content.


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All I Want for Christmas…

It’s not your two front teeth anymore. Toys probably don’t top your list either.

What IS on the top of a college student’s Christmas wish list?

When your mom or grandma start asking what you’d like for Christmas, here are a few ideas that will keep giving through the rest of the year (or at least the winter):

1. Crockpot

Are you sick of cafeteria food yet? How about instant soup or mac and cheese? An easy solution is to start cooking with a crockpot. The best thing about a crockpot is tossing in the ingredients and leaving it for 6-8 hours to cook. Most great crockpot recipes don’t require more than a few ingredients. There are tons of recipes online to help you get started (try soups, applesauce, chili, pulled pork, and baked potatoes).

2. Keurig Coffee Maker

If you’re a coffee drinker, then a single serving coffee maker, like a Keurig, would do wonders for your mornings. Instead of rushing to grab a cup somewhere on your way to class, you can program the Keurig (or other brand of coffee maker) to dispense your coffee when you wake up. The single serving is the perfect amount for a travel mug and the various flavors keep you from getting bored.

3. Professional Clothes

Sweatshirts are usually staple items of college, but consider asking for more professional clothes (button down shirts, dress pants, and dress shoes). You’re bound to have interviews, internships, or presentations that will have a more formal dress code. If you already have these items in your closet, then you won’t have any worries in dressing the part.

4. Slippers/Moccasins

You know the dorm/apartment floors are dirty. I mean, you’ve seen what has fallen on them. And you also know how often they’re cleaned (or not cleaned). Rather than wearing your shoes while you’re studying, lounging, or playing video games, throw on a pair of slippers or moccasins. You’ll be more comfortable and better yet, your feet and socks will stay clean.

5. Money/Gift Cards

A great backup gift is always money or a gift card. You can use the money towards buying your next semester textbooks, groceries, or gas. Gift cards to restaurants or stores can come in handy when you’re in need of a dinner out or a new pair of jeans.

What’s on your Christmas list?

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How to Survive Finals Week

For many schools, finals are next week, and that means you’re probably going to be feeling both a wave of panic and a sense of relief. It will all soon be over, but until then, here are a few tips on making the week a bit less painful:

1. Ditch distracting websites

If you’re normally browsing Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or the host of other time-sucking websites, then this is the week to take a hiatus. Give yourself a few minutes of socializing time once per hour while you’re studying, clear your head, and then get back to work.

2. Double-check your exam times

Make a list or schedule of your exam times, and be sure to double (or triple) check it. There’s little worse than discovering the exam you thought was on Friday is actually at 8 am the next day.

3. Get enough sleep

It seems simple enough, yet it’s one thing that many students fail to do. Inadequate amounts of sleep, especially for multiple days in a row, causes decreased mental clarity, in other words you can’t think as well. You won’t be doing yourself any favors this way.

4. Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water

Stick to healthy snacks and drinks in between your exams. In the middle of an exam, you don’t want a rumbling stomach due to hunger, but you don’t want a rumbling stomach due to Taco Bell either.

Don’t forget to check out last year’s post on 8 tips to ace your finals and beat stress. Do you have any helpful tips to add?

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Math in the News: Christmas Inflation

It’s officially December and that means the holidays are just around the corner. Stores will be playing Christmas music to put shoppers in the holiday mood.

To put one of the classics in perspective, the math has been calculated to determine how much it would cost to buy all of the items repeated in “The 12 Days of Christmas” carol.

At a cool $107,000, it’s no price to balk at.

As it turns out, the price for the 364 items has risen 6.1 percent as compared to last year. In the Daily Finance article, “’12 Days of Christmas’ Gift List Price Tag Now Tops $107,000,” you can find out exactly which items have risen in cost the most.

To learn more about inflation, visit Math & YOU.

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