Monthly Archives: January 2008

Mixed Nuts

Two recent incidents at Midwestern universities, actually quite similar IMHO:

From If you reject a teaching job applicant because he believes a crazy conspiracy theory…:

[….] the University of Wisconsin has not rehired 9/11 conspiracy believer Kevin Barrett to teach a course on the history of Islam. […] if we know a person believes something truly nutty, are we not entitled to use that as evidence of his intelligence, judgment, and trustworthiness?

From Silly creationists, Universities are for scientists:

….Iowa State University denied tenure to astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez. As it happens, Gonzalez is an advocate of Intelligent Design, which has been legally ruled to be not only religion, but actually just warmed-over creationism.

I believe both Universities acted correctly.

17th Century Computation

As I wrote earlier, I have been reading Gamma: Exploring Euler’s Constant, by Julian Havil, which begins with a chapter about Napier and the invention of logarithms.

The historical motivation for logarithms is quite interesting. We think of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as elementary, while exponents and trigonometry are more advanced. In fact, the multiplication and division involved in the practical mathematics of c.1600, e.g. navigation and compound interest, was very time consuming. People were desperate to find a faster way. Warning: Math content….