Blog

Blog posts written for the BSHM appear below.

The Pandemic and Mathematical Literacy

Yom shlishi, 28 Adar 5782.

One of the few benefits of the Pandemic has been an increase in mathematical literacy, especially in the traditional mass media, such as newspapers.

I was reminded of this, when I saw the centrespread “Folio” article in a recent issue of Toronto, Ontario’s, Globe and MailIt was entitled, “We have the supply and appointments – so why are so many kids unvaccinated?”

The story is illustrated by half a dozen graphic representations of data, situated in the lower right-hand corner.

Time Zones II: Sir Sandford Fleming and Standard Time

Yom rishon, 19 Adar I, 5782.

The importance of knowing your Time Zones was exemplified in the Schedule of last year’s very successful BSHM/CSHPM/HOMSIGMAA Conference, which began: 

“Times are given as:

BST = British Summer Time, e.g. London (UTC+1), 

EDT = Eastern Daylight Time, e.g. Toronto (UTC-4), 

PDT = Pacific Daylight Time, e.g. Vancouver (UTC-7). 

Time Zones I: “Half an Hour Later in Newfoundland”

Yom shishi, 10 Sivan, 5781.

Our title “Half an hour later in Newfoundland” is a standard joke line in Canadian comedy and is based on the fact that Standard Time on the Island of Newfoundland is in Zone P* = EST + 1h 30m (Toronto) = UTC - 3h 30m (London, UK [London, Ontario, which shares EST with Toronto, is also on a River Thames, but that’s another story]). The rest of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, that is mainland Labrador, is in Zone Q = Atlantic Standard Time = EST + 1h = UTC - 4h.

Grid Expectations

Earlier this year, I submitted papers related to different parts of my dissertation work to three different conferences: the History of Science Society, the American Historical Association, and the Joint Meeting of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. These meetings were originally scheduled to take place in New Orleans, Seattle, and Washington, DC, respectively.

Earl Sweeting and the historiography of African mathematics

I started using lockdown to tackle the 6 cubic metres of my mother’s papers – a task put off for the last 5 years. But I was stopped in my tracks at box 1 when I found a postcard of this picture, “African teaching mathematics to the Greeks”. It shows a Black African teaching geometry to the ancient Greeks and is one of a series of murals by Earl Sweeting.

Teaching the History of Mathematics: Challenges and Opportunities

Now that the summer session has mostly wrapped up at Cornell, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my experiences teaching the history of science and mathematics. I recently finished teaching a 3-week course called “Science, Technology, and Politics,” a version of which I also taught last summer. The course this year was different in many ways, including its suddenly online format, yet much was also the same. Many students struggled to work through the same kinds of questions and analyses that challenged last year’s students as well.

Home schooling history of mathematics resources

Next week some more children in England will go back to school, but most of the children will still be learning from home. We have put a short list together for the parents and children alike to do some mathematics during this period, and remind you that the 1st of July is the deadline to submit an essay or presentation in the history of mathematics for our Schools Prize! https://www.bshm.ac.uk/plus

Making Mathematics American

Sometimes the push to finish a big writing project can end up feeling like a “shelter in place” order—a foggy dance between writing and sleeping. For the past two months, while sheltering in place because of COVID-19, I’ve been working towards a deadline to finish a full draft of my dissertation. There were no offices, archives, or libraries, and I relied heavily on HathiTrust and others who helped put resources online. After endless hours of writing and sleeping, interspersed with distance runs and homemade meals, I finally submitted a draft to my committee this week.

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