Author speaks about calculus

Nicholas Sparling, Reporter

The promise of zombies nearly filled the Fireside Room on Tuesday, March 13th 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 the ever-so-feared 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, Salon.com and Nature. She is also the author of a number of books her latest being, “The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse.”

Her presentation began with the history of calculus, from Roman to Arabic influences, and the question “W5hat 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, rides like the Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and the Tea Cups.

Unfortunately zombie’s was 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 the 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 Also besides the little discussion on zombies, Ouellette did not cover the practical application of calculus in Las Vegas, the second biggest allure her speech.

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.”