Mathochism: Fun with infinity

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?
Back when I was in geometry, I dreaded proofs. They seemed so fiddly, so obvious, so tedious. Yes, the side opposite the largest angle of a triangle is the longest side. But must this be expressed in 10 different steps?

Calculus proofs are a different story — at least so far. There are if … then statements, but less fiddliness. They feel more straightforward. I hope that continues!

Today, we covered infinite limits, or rather, limits that don’t exist due to infinity. Once again, this felt intuitive. After all, infinity has no limit.

I like the concept of infinity. It’s very mystical. I picture it as a highway going off into the horizon, forever and ever. I also see it in Hubble photos of space — not the nebula ones, but the ones of the hundreds and hundreds of galaxies floating next to each other.

At any rate, our first test is next week. We have a lecture before that, so I really need to focus on homework and catch up. I am surprising myself, though, by how well the pre-calc sank in, considering I didn’t get an A.

My confidence, though, is unusual. One woman at the other side of class told everyone at break that this class is making her “feel like a retard.” Several classmates agreed with her, including one young man who is apparently on his third calc class.

There but for the grace of math go I?

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


  • No class I ever took before or since was as hard for me to understand as calculus. I think it makes your brain work in ways that just does not come at all naturally to some of us. But if you got it, girl, work it!

  • Well, so far. We’ll see!

  • No worries, the proofs in geometry were awkward for me, too, precisely because they were obvious. Once you start to prove non-obvious things, it gets a lot more fun. 🙂

  • Well, thank goodness. Those damn tedious proofs were my downfall on the geometry final!