Everyday uses for Mathematics in the Real World

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"Everyday uses for Mathematics in the Real World"
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From the very first second each of us opens our eyes in the morning, we are using math. It's essential for survival, for living, for learning, for progressing, for communicating. Our minds never stop calculating, brilliantly I might add (oops, I did it again, used math). We are making hundreds of decisions in minutes, all requiring calculations, weighing the pros vs the cons (assigning weight to what is important vs less important, what is possible vs less possible), and ultimately making a decision that is followed by action.

In carrying out the action, we are using math again and again. When we woke, we turned, our body calculated how much effort to exert to move from laying down to standing up (too fast we get dizzy, too slow we go back to sleep). We took steps to reach the door, how many, the right amount (our minds were counting). We turn the light switch on, the coffee pot on, exerting pressure (too much we break it, too little it doesn't go on, calculation must be correct). We look at the clock and decide there's enough time to make breakfast (calculation) Do we use microwave or toaster oven (time, which is faster)?

At some point, we're in travelling, are we walking, running, driving, riding? What did we have time for (calculating minutes, hours)? As we drive, are we going fast or slow, turning sharp or smooth (calculating speed vs angle of turn)? Have to get gas; we reach into our pocket and count our money, see a price sign, calculate how much we can get, and decide to go to this place or the next.

We're at work or school and see our friends, our coworkers, slow our walk so they can see our outfit (calculating). We have to lift an object; we calculate how much strength and speed is necessary to lift it without embarrassing ourselves. We go to the cafeteria at lunchtime and read the sign. We reach into our pocket and count our money. We look at the menu, add and subtract items based upon price and money available, and decide. We check the time (calculate), decide to sit and eat. We eat, talk, hear about a sale of a product we want (but the sale is only for today). We check our pockets again (calculate), look at the clock checking time (calculating), and decide "no can do" (not today, maybe next time).

All this excitement and decision making, toilet time. We go to the restroom, supplies are low, we calculate how much and what to use to accomplish the assigned task allowing us to exit without embarrassment.

Work / school over, we travel where? Home, but how (more calculations); direct (to home) vs indirect (friend's), stay long vs short. Once home, what do we do first after checking time, decide on activity and time required to accomplish (calculate). Oh the laundry, we forgot about the laundry, quick measure the detergent, fill the load, set the timer, start the load (calculating the whole time). Dinner? We run up the stairs (calculating force, velocity, distance). We gather ingredients (never dropping or spilling anything, calculating speed angle, movement). We pour, combine, mix, set timers, select temperatures, cook. We set table for the correct number of people. Dinner ready, we eat, talk, laugh about the day's miscalculations. Finished, we clean the table, saving leftovers (if calculations merit it), wash the dishes /pots and pans using the right water temperature, amount of soap, and cleaning utensil (calculations all).

We check the time and decide on the rest of the evening's activities and their sequence (calculations), throughout the evening we're bending and stretching, lifting and folding, turning and twisting, ironing and hanging, sitting and standing, walking and running. So many things have we accomplished today, with such little known effort or credit given to mathematics before this day.

More about this author: Daniel G. O'Leary

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