|Re: Reciting digits of pi|
Message #9 Posted by Ed Look on 4 Apr 2011, 2:32 p.m.,
in response to message #4 by Jim Yohe
No Jim, I'm not a math teacher; but I'm a chemist and these are college courses. I suspect (hope??) a couple of them could teach ME some math. I've heard some folks kid around about Mole Day (June 23), but I never remember.
I actually use that little pi mnemonic sometimes to chide them for their over-reliance on things electronical, even my beloved calculators. They (well, mainly freshmen and sophomores) report digits, as those of pi, as if they were a totalitarian secret police intended to spy on numerals, because that's what the stoolie calculator told them. No thought is given to the reality of the situation as far as the precision of the input figures, so how much less is given to the results!
In most science, even the classroom, how many significant digits are generally used? Certainly, it isn't nine or twelve. So, often I tell them when the ask, "It's 3.14; that's good enough for us!" Sometimes, it's even 3.1415!
(And let's not even worry about the error of the result, or even how many digits ought to be reported in that value itself!) What was that word used once, innumeracy?