Crowd gathers like zombies for speaker

Nicholas Sparling, Reporter

The promise of zombies nearly filled the Fireside Room on March 13 for a presentation put on by the STEM program, featuring Jennifer Ouellette, an award winning Mathematics and Physics Author. Ouellette gave her presentation titled “Dangerous Curves: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the calculus” covering the history and practical application of math study.

Jennifer Ouellette’s qualifications include being the Director of the Los Angeles-based Science and Entertainment Exchange, and the Journalist-in-Residence at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara. She has written for the Washington Post, New Science, Discover, and Nature.

Her presentation began with the history of calculus, from Roman to Arabic influences, and the question “What is calculus? And why should I care?”

Afterword she taught about the practical applications covering comparative shopping, surfing, construction, drying cloths and even exercise. Extensively covered was the use of calculus in relation to rides at Disneyland. Unfortunately zombies were only a small portion of the presentation.

A college professor from Canada actually used math to find out the rate that a zombie infestation would spread, and how to best deal with a zombie apocalypse. The answer of how to survive is to hit them hard and hit them fast before the outbreak can spread. The header of the email sent out about the event was “Want to survive a zombie attack? Win at craps? Beat a zombie at craps?” and so little of that was talked about.

Ouellette did answer her primary question though, “Why should we care about math? And especially calculus?”

The answer being that it gives us the option to use it or not, in short, “It gives us a choice.”