Thursday, April 1, 2010

MAM Day 1: Weather

To kick off Math Awareness Month, let's talk about the weather!

There was a super warm weekend in the middle of March when my roommate and I took a nice stroll outside for the first time in months. I woke up with my window open, freezing cold air was streaming in my room so I mistakenly thought I would need a jacket to go to the grocery store. My roomie told me it was 60-some degrees outside and that I probably wouldn't need my jacket. Lucky for me, I left my jacket behind and we had the most wonderful walk to the grocery store.

Weather is something that we all deal with, and while the connection between math and weather might not be immediately apparent, the weather is loaded with math! For those of you who check the temperature, chance of precipitation, the wind chill or the weather in general before going out, you might see the math connection.

Take a look at this, this calendar is full of numbers! For most of us, these numbers make sense, temperature in degrees, precipiation percent, and averages of temperatures are the basics that we need to understand and make sense of the weather world. While we aren't solving complex equations or finding the values of x given blah blah blah, I'd like to argue that some (or most) of us are using our knowledge of math to decide if we need that umbrella, an extra layer of long underwear, or flip flops and shorts would be more appropriate.

I thought of the connection earlier in the week while waiting for the T under my umbrella. If you'll remember it was a particularly nasty day outside, with cold flooding rain and gusty winds. I was using some weird geometry to position my umbrella against the wind so it wouldn't flip over, and perpendicular to the rain to cover myself while keeping as dry as possible. I wasn't solving incredible physics or calculus equations to maximize the coverage, but I was using some sort of learned knowledge of angles and area to make sure I did not get soaked. Math under an umbrella!

If I had one of these, I wouldn't have to do any math!

There's way more math involved in reporting the weather (baromatic pressure for example) but it's thanks to math and science that we are able to predict what to expect the next day. And although I really enjoy the snow and winter gear, I'm looking forward to spring and warmer temperatures, probably more rainy days, and finally not having to worry about wind chill anymore!


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