Monthly Archives: April 2006

Speaking of maps . . .

Current Mood: “I’m getting very angry”

No, I am not really angry. That just happens to be my favorite quote by Marvin the Martian, whose homeland is the central topic of this evening’s post. I imagine you have heard of the Google Maps (online mapping or route planning available through Google) or even Google Earth (a 3D virtual representation of the Google Maps). Now there’s Google Mars. It works very much like Google Maps. Although not quite as helpful in finding directions. . .


I’m on the map

Good news!! I found out today that my salary is getting a bump upward. I’m getting a raise and my salary finally shows up somewhere on the map of Faculty Salaries for Assistant Professors of Mathematics at Bachelor’s degree granting institutions (see below). Sure, I always wish I could do better. But I no longer feel like I am being penalized for my commitment to Christian Education and to the mission of Wayland Baptist University.

Source: Annual Survey of the Mathematical Sciences, Faculty Surveys

Preaching this Sunday

I just wanted to mention that I will be preaching this Sunday (April 23) at Broadview Baptist Church in Lubbock, TX. The plan is to preach a revised (improved?) version of the sermon I preached earlier this year in Muleshoe. I’ll post the revised version when it is finished. And yes, I know it is Saturday evening and I am about to go to a Sunday School Party for the evening. Truth be told, it is almost done with just a couple of finishing touches needed. If you read this in time, I would appreciate any prayers.

Easter, 2531

Did you know that in the year 2531, Easter will be on April 8th? I’ve often wondered where in the world the date for Easter comes from and have not taken the time or exerted the effort to answer the question to my satisfaction. That is, until today.

According to Wikipedia,

Computus (Latin for computation) is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age.

The canonical rule is that Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the 14th day of the lunar month (the nominal full moon) that falls on or after 21 March (nominally the day of the vernal equinox). For determining the feast, Christian churches settled on a method to define a reckoned “ecclesiastic” Moon, rather than observations of the true Moon as the Jews did.

There’s much more history there and varying methods of Computus, but I was pretty impressed with the version known as O’Beirne’s algorithm (HT: Mathematics Weblog)

The following process gives the date of Easter Sunday as the [tex]p[/tex]-th day of the [tex]n[/tex]-th month in year [tex]x[/tex]. It also gives the Golden Number [tex]a+1[/tex] and the epact ([tex]23-h[/tex] or [tex]53-h[/tex] whichever is between 1 and 30 inclusive). All you have to do is start with the year [tex]x[/tex] and perform 10 division operations noting the quotients and remainders.

That’s fairly easy to stick into an Excel Spreadsheet or write a quick Javascript to handle it. I’m going to point you to one I like by Steve at Mathematics Weblog – Click here

If you are interested in more calendar calculators, check out Calendrica

Math Applets at SLU

This site, Math Applets at SLU, blew me away. I was just browsing around looking for some interesting applets to demonstrate some concepts in multi-variable calculus and differential equations and came across this collection of Java Applets that are designed to visualize concepts ranging from basic algebra, through trigonometry up to multi-variable calculus.

Here were a couple of my early favorites, as I just covered some of the concepts this semester:

A Summer Gig

Things have finally come together for the summer. I was beginning to wonder if anyone would hire me at all. I had submitted applications to several research labs and other facilities hoping to work on some research over the summer. All of them fell through, so I began volunteering at the extension campuses for Wayland. The more “exotic” locations were not in need of any math professors. I finally offered my service to the nearest locations outside of Plainview, namely Lubbock and Amarillo. They both wrote back indicating they had need. It just so happened that the two classes needed (one in Lubbock and one in Amarillo) are not ones I have taught before: Math for Seconday School Teachers and Computational Math (a remedial math course).

After soliciting myself to these campuses I heard from Texas Tech, through my old doctoral advisor, that there was a need for a post-doc mathematician on a bioinformatics research program. I was offered the post and now I am looking forward to venturing in the wide world of bioinformatics. Yeehaw! Now, it looks as though, in addition to teaching, I will have my name on a least a couple of published papers by the end of the year. Things turned around rather quickly. I am quite excited about all of the opportunities for the summer. It’s just too bad that none of my work is in my hometown of Plainview. But Lori has offered to take me to Amarillo on Monday nights and there is a good chance that a significant portion of the research can be done from my office here in Plainview. But that will just have to be something that we’ll see about.

By the way, if you are interested in learning a little more about this new area of research, here are a couple of links about the person I will be working for.

  1. Thea Wilkins : She holds the Bayer CropScience Regent’s Endowed Professorship in Genomics.
  2. Building a Better Cotton Boll:

    With nearly six million acres devoted to the crop, Texas already boasts the world’s largest cotton-producing area. State leaders and Texas Tech University officials are betting it will soon be the most genetically advanced.

    Enticed by the promise of millions in combined state and university research dollars and a new prestigious endowment, Dr. Thea Wilkins has quit the West Coast and planted new roots as Texas Tech’s head cotton geneticist.

  3. Gov. Perry Announces Grant to Texas Tech for Agriculture Genomics Research

Four Color Problem

Some of you may know of a theorem called the Four Color Theorem. Many of you may not. It has the distinction of being the first major theorem to be proved using a computer. And thus, to many mathematicians the proof is not accepted since faith must be placed in the computer for the result and there is a complete lack of elegance to the proof. After all, “a good mathematical proof is like a poem . . . this [proof] is a telephone directory!” – Wikipedia

The theorem states that any plane separated into regions, such as a map of countries or states, can be colored with only four colors, such that no adjacent regions have the same color. Now, if you accept this a fact (which you most certainly should), that still leaves open the question of how to perform the coloring. Sure, a coloring using only four colors exists but finding it is another matter. Try it for yourself:

Puzzle Japan > Miscellaneous Page > Four Color Problem

HT: Think Again!