Mathochism: You’ve got the beat

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

To get to the math building at my college, I often take a shortcut through the athletics building. Most of my walk through that building includes a long hall. On one side of that hall are doors leading to a cavernous gymnasium. On the other, there are multiple dance studios full of mirrors and barres.

Usually there’s a class going on in at least one studio as I go by, and there are leotard-clad students in the hall waiting for the next class, chatting to each other, stretching and practicing dance steps. Much of it seems to be modern dance, but there is also ballet and salsa.

No matter what style it is, though, I can always hear the instructor counting out the beat: “And one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight!”

I’ve long been aware of the connection between music and math.

Musicians are often good at math, and mathematicians often enjoy music. Music is a form of math, relying on beats and notes and chords, and equations are a lot like compositions.

Moreover, a dance routine choreographed to beat of a composition is yet another equation.

Any equation can be plotted on a graph, as can a sound wave. And sound wave can be measured in pitch and volume, and the sound barrier, when broken, makes a loud bang.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, but since I’ve been tackling my math phobia, I’ve become aware of math in unexpected places. I’ve long been aware of it in cooking and aviation and, obviously, computer science, but I’m curious to see where else I’ll find it. I suspect that math, like chemistry, is everywhere.

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.

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