Tag Archives: imagination

“What’s your favourite number?”

nine-217900_640(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog) Mathematician Alex Bellos was intensely irritated by the question. Was that person in the audience mocking him, or possibly ridiculing what he’d been saying about mathematics, to ask such a bizarre and irrelevant question at the end of his lecture? The audience member had asked him, as others had done before, “What’s your favourite number?”  In this podcast conversation from Radiolab, Bellos describes his abrupt shift of perspective as he realizes that the questioner is asking in sincerity.  Quickly, he discovers that half the members of his audience have “favourite numbers”. And so begins his own investigation into emotional and imaginative associations with numbers, and the non-rational characteristics that many people attribute to a numbering system he had previously seen exclusively in terms of reason. 
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TOK and mathematics: how not to be wrong?

1407math(by Theo Dombrowski, OSC TOK blog July 2, 2014) “As it develops, mathematics moves both towards the abstractions of the mind, and also towards the connection with the world.”  Thus begins the section on “Pure and Applied Mathematics” in the ToK Course Companion.  (p. 357).  The nature of the relationship between the abstract nature of mathematics and “the world” is one of several issues examined in a new book on mathematics Continue reading