I never understood Pi. I couldn’t make it work without knowing why Pi was 3.14 etc. No one ever wanted to tell me. Like so much of Math, You have to take numbers at face value and just accept – or believe that they are real and have a reason to be special.
When I began researching Archimedes for my little book about him, I finally understood where that number came from – how the radius relates to the circumference and therefor the area of a circle. Why had no one ever told me this? So much in math classes would have made sense.
Some of us are visual thinkers. We think in pictures and understand concepts visually. Mathematicians live in cities of glass and steel where all is pattern and puzzle. Pi does not belong to mathematics alone. Pi pervades art and philosophy too and so needs to be understood and appreciated in different ways.
Show the video above to non-mathematicians and watch them go – “Oh! right! That’s amazing… now it makes sense.”
S.T.E.M. is meaningless without art and culture.
Shoo Rayner – friend of Euclid and Archimedes
To celebrate Pi Day, buy a copy of my book, Archimedes, the Man who invented the Death Ray.
I remember being introduced to Pi as a given. Something that I had to accept. An axiom that everyone had agreed with for thousands of years, so no one ever thought to explain where it came, how it was discovered and wether it had any relationship to anything else.
To me it made no sense. It was a magic number ordained from above. Just follow the rules and everything would work out nice and neat and you’d get 20/20 in the exam.
Except that I was one of those annoying kids who hated following rules unless I could see some sense to them. I needed to know the reasons and logic behind the rules. I’m afraid I’m still like that! I was also a very visually-minded kid. I came top in Geometry, while we were using compasses and dividers and scissors and glue, but as soon as we had to involve a bit of arithmetic or algebra… off the ladder I slipped, and down the snake I slid to the bottom of the class.
As I researched the definition of Pi, I had an epiphany – a moment of physical shock and pleasure and enlightenment – even elation. There is actually a reason why Pi equals 3.14 etc. It is dead simple and was worked out by a genius. Why did no one ever tell me this story?
We all naturally assume that the rest of the world think the same way that we do. They don’t. There are billions of ways to wire up a brain. Add family, culture and genetics into the mix, and you can safely assume that no one else thinks like you.
Mathematicians live in a wonderful, shiny world of stainless steel and glass. Any anomalies can be rectified by shifting assumtions one place to the left and creating a different mathematical model (God bless Gödel and his incompleteness theorems!)
Education has recently become obsessed with S.T.E.M. (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Art has been almost eradicated from the curriculum, leaving a large percentage of the student body lost, mystified and unsatisfied.
There are children who think visually, who think musically, who think in words or emotions, some who think in body movement, all effectively excluded from S.T.E.M., the new orthodoxy in education.
While science, technology, engineering and mathematics are important for the future of the nation, we have to remember that we are humans and not robots. We need all that makes us human. That includes art, music, story, drama, dance… in short, the humanities.
The technological revolution was initially powered by steam, and so should the new technological revolution be powered by S.T.E.A.M.
Adding an A for Art in to STEM keeps humanity in the curriculum and includes the excluded. Steam makes sense of and celebrates arcane subjects, making humans of those who would impose inhumanity on others. We are not robots. We are human. It is art AND science that makes us so.
Watch the video and find out how Archimedes discovered Pi. It may not be true a true story, it may have been embellished over the years, but that’s what makes us human. We are hard-wired to learn from great stories. Leave art, investigation and story out of the mix and we are no longer human.
Being number one would be terrific, is I need some help to get there. If you have this book or have read it, then I’d be most grateful if you would leave a review on Amazon for me.
What would boost the position, of course is if lots of people were to buy the book!
Euclid, The Man Who Invented Geometry came about when I discovered that a school banned the use of compasses because of health and safety implications – they have a sharp point! The education implication was that the children had no idea how to draw a circle or construct shapes from geometric principles. I’m sure that drawing shapes and bisecting angles in geometry played as much a part in my drawing g skills as did any art lesson.
I made a series of videos about Euclid, where he became a slightly eccentric character explaining his theories to his friends. Because his friends were with not very bright or not very cooperative, Euclid had to work from basic principles and bring them along with his ideas – step by step – the Axiomatic approach.
Having made the videos, I realised that the script worked as the text to a book, so I put it all together and published it as my first independent book – and very proud I was too!
To have got it up to number 37 in the Amazon rankings with very little publicity is amazing and makes me realise I should maybe add a little effort to push it up a bit further.
So please follow the links and leave a review or buy a copy for a struggling mathematician who needs a different approach to the subject or for a genius mathematician who needs a little light relief – we all need that from time to time!
100% 5 star reviews! What do they say so far?
Can’t be beat to introduce kids to Euclid and Eclidian geometry.
At last, a book that is fun and informative.
This is the perfect introduction to geometry principles for my 5yr old. He absolutely loves the characters and videos; It makes me wish there were more.
Love it! My sons are drawing up a geometric storm!