Why You Should Also Do Maths Recreationally

Have you ever felt the genuine desire to sit down and solve some random algebraic problems, for the fuck of it?

Call me whatever you wish, but I often do. There is just something about executing a means of figuring out a variable (unknown) and then finding that, for example, x = 4.

First of all, you might think Maths isn’t for artists, or science is just for scientists. Well, it isn’t. You’re not necessarily wrong, you’ve just been misinformed and mistreated all your life, so you’ve reached a sad conclusion about these beautiful creations of humanity (at least it’s something they did right.) Science is artistic by nature; it has its own breathtaking beauty in the way it simply is. If you call yourself a scientist and you’re looking down your nose on these statements, I can laugh right back at you and your lack of perspective.

Before we get back to actually doing some Maths, let’s think about what it all means. Why it’s so logical. What logic even is. Why numbers are so weird, despite how fundamental they might seem to those who never ponder them or even question them briefly.

Do you think that, if we did not evolve pattern recognition and our ability to ‘count’, whatever that means, numbers would still be a thing (in the basic states of reality. Think: if a tree fell and there was no one to hear it, would it make a sound?)? I hardly doubt it. It’s true, things simply exist as they do. They do not need measurement, they do not require to be put into sets. Infinity isn’t even relevant if you have no idea what it means.

So, whatever they are–representations of what we perceive as a collection of things, void symbols akin in significance to a letter–numbers are there, and we use them, all the time. You know you have one phone, you recognise its patterns and general shape, you know it has four edges, three touch buttons at the bottom (or one, or zilch), you see the collection of shapes in the wallpaper of your choosing. You know you have two eyes (or if you’re a cyclops reading this, good luck with your depth perception), one mouth, one nose, two hands, ten fingers (excluding any aliens, monsters or mutated or misshapen humans–and I want you to read that with the tone of underlying general fascination I feel towards all of the aforementioned beings), an amount of hair strands that can be counted but no one can be bothered to do so, a couch, two couches, five chairs, ten silver spoons, five thousand euros, ten friends, one thousand books–you see? You understand this because you were raised to. And I do mean it in the most fundamental sense–you genuinely grew up with an idea of numbers because it was given to you by someone else who learned it from someone else (and nearly ad infinitum.) To make this more easy to grasp, I’m going to give you an example of how some people had no ‘idea’ for the colour blue, so they never described it, and hardly ever seemed to understand it.

The Greeks had no notion of what their sky ‘colour’ was. They had no word for it. They had no… Concrete connection, description, of what it is. They can’t look at the sky and think, blue. They just see sky. Blue is irrelevant. [If you’re interested to know more and have a hard time believing me: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2976405/Could-ancestors-blue-Ancient-civilisations-didn-t-perceive-colour-didn-t-word-say-scientists.html ].

As you’ll get from reading that, blue does not appear in ancient texts. Ergo, their lack of a word to describe it meant they never bothered. Such badasses, aren’t they? Who cares about your blue. Sod off!

As a human (again, I’m not trying to exclude any other species that might be reading this), you will definitely develop pattern recognition, even if you’ve never learned to count. And as it makes a lot of sense, learning to do that is quite simple and easy to undertake. The pure logic behind Maths is… Palpable.

Due to its strict nature, refusing to bend its own rules and always making the most sense, it’s become an insanely valuable tool for scientists to represent the world. Things become complex in maths because the world and the things it represents are complex, not because your teacher hates you.

When it comes to people who hate maths, despite how amazing it really is (outside of the bloody classroom), it is often due to one bad teacher who completely fucked up their fundamental understanding of the most basic of rules, and thus rendered that beautifully artistic discipline incomprehensible, frustrating and almost terrifying sometimes. I encourage you to go punch the dick who did that to you in the eye with a wolf’s open mouth. They deserve it.

People love to solve problems. There’s a sort of gratification that comes from cracking set after set of problems that is just incomparable to any other experience. The harder they are, the more time you invest in solving them, the more you grow a connection to it, the more rewarding it is when you finally reach a solution, all on your own. It also trains your problem-solving skills. The more you do it, the faster you become at coming up with fixes (as I’ve observed with myself and a few others).

Consider this extremely simple equation:

(Excuse the messiness.)

k squared minus four equals eighty.

Solve for k.

You move the four to the other side, turning the negative to a positive. Add the 4 to the 80.

k squared equals 84 now.

You’re trying to separate numbers from k so you can find the solution.

Next, square root of both sides.

Now you have k = positive/negative 9.16.

The steps of actually doing it are immensely entertaining.

I get problems to solve from this website. Print them out. They’re so much more fun to do with pen and paper: https://www.kutasoftware.com/free.html

Here’s a book that will make you appreciate maths even more: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Joy-Guided-Tour-Math-Infinity/dp/0544105850/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456323664&sr=1-2&keywords=maths+infinity (it was an amazing read).

I hope you have a better understanding/stronger sense of appreciation for maths now.

Thank you for reading.

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