Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Obvious Meaning in the Squiggly Line Protruding from the Wooden Sign on the Ostrich's Cornea

Oh, I wish there were some way I could just skip math. I started studying polynomials yesterday by reading the wikipedia entry and not understanding any of it. I love the image included in the entry of a wavy red line against a cross on a graph as though that's supposed to make something clear to me.

I even looked up each term as I went, not understanding the definitions of any of them, including binomial which is defined as "the sum of two monomials" and monomials are defined as

. . . the word monomial can have one of two different meanings:

The first is a product of powers of variables, or formally any value obtained by finitely many multiplications of a variable. If only a single variable x is considered, this means that any monomial is either 1 or a power x^n of x, with n a positive integer. If several variables are considered, say, x, y, z, then each can be given an exponent, so that any monomial is of the form x^a y^b z^c with a,b,c non-negative integers (taking note that any exponent 0 makes the corresponding factor equal to 1).

The second meaning of monomial includes monomials in the first sense, but also allows multiplication by any nonzero constant, so that -7x^5 and (3-4i)x^4yz^{13} are also considered to be monomials (the second example assuming polynomials in x, y, z over the complex numbers are considered).

Reading it I begin to know something of what it was like for the unlucky dinosaur caught in a pool of tar. Is this really stuff an English major has to know?

And to-night is my Astronomy lab midterm which I'm sure will be all sorts of fun. You know, it really doesn't make sense to me that a lab would have a midterm, though it also doesn't make sense that a one unit course should feel like a ten unit course to me.

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