Rant and Rave

Hey Tommy, get a life!

Karl Pearson sent the following letter

Dear Cone-Headed One,

You sure laid a big oblate spheroid shaped one when you went on your tirade against having to learn geometry, trigonometry and other things mathematical.

Whoever uses such stuff? Well, I do, for one. As a machinist, my job is to create geometry eight hours a day, five days a week (or more, when the boss catches up to me). Parallel, perpendicular, concentric, angular, flat, round, compound angles, mathematically defined surfaces. All day, every day. Just to find the shortest distance to the customer's pocket.

And how about carpenters putting up houses? You want them (the houses, dummy, not the carpenters) to look like your silly hexagonal backyard fountain tiles--or would you prefer that the doors close properly?

Would you want the pilot on your next flight to have flunked basic trig? Maybe you would end up somewhere that hasn't even seen an automobile yet. Then what would you do?

Who uses this stuff? Geologists, aircraft designers, road builders, building contractors, surgeons and, yes, even radio broadcast technicians (amplitude modulation and frequency modulation are both based on manipulating wave forms described by trig functions--don't get me started on alternating current).

So, Tommy, get a life. The only people who don't use these principles every day are those who can't do and can't teach, and thus are suited only for lives as politicians or talk show hosts.

Besides--if lots of people didn't know from geometry, we'd have cars with round, smooth pistons that would be about as powerful and pollution-free as your Dodge Dart. So keep it up, Pythagoras breath, and you'll never get that geometrically designed stealth car to avoid the cops and their mathematically engineered radar.

Tangentially yours,

Karl Pearson
Geometer, Trig'er man and machinist ordinaire

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