Seven Things We Can Thank Algebra For
I'm getting fed up of hearing that old wives' tale that algebra is good for nothing. “No one uses it”, they say, “yet another day went by without it”, you may hear. I want to prove them all wrong. Here's a list of seven great things that algebra made possible.
Space Pictures -
Oh yes, without knowledge of trigonometry, there's no way we'd ever have been able to get into orbit, let alone fly past Pluto. The equations that make space travel possible are extensive they all have algebra in them.
Pictures at all -
Have you ever used a manual focus lens? It's not easy to get a clear shot. The way the glasses interact across the distance given is directly plottable with algebra. Cameras are built to have rational and easily expressed focal points, which can be written with algebra. The software which runs modern cameras uses this same algebra to do all that clever stuff.
That is indeed correct. Computer programs especially rely on mathematical expressions to tell the machine what to do with all those bits of data. The way we write code requires variables which although has its own language, the mathematical principles carry over as the same, so the equations we learn go directly across like a java plugin.
How do we get from a frequency in the airwaves to a sound on the loud speaker? By using algebra to decode it. The peaks and troughs are captured, separated by frequency and then projected into the system. An encrypted, or a digital signal will be behind a formula which must be applied before the analogue representation can be produced.
Electronic music -
How do those synthesisers manage to produce all those different sounds? By altering variables. Those same things that we call x, y, and z etc. when working on paper. The same principles apply, but they affect sound waves and not whole numbers.
When we make something heavy and tall, it's vital that it is going to stand up. Not only this, but we want it to stay standing up no matter what nature throws at it. The best way to do this is to build according to specific laws which we know dictate how materials behave, Algebra can be used to express these rules. Once we can demonstrate safety with stresses, forces, and pressure points, etc, then the architecture is deemed to be sound, and the building can commence. Without algebra, we'd be living and working in small huts.
That's right. Without the skills of navigation, which uses algebra to map positions on open ocean by plotting the stars, the sun, and the time, according to known relationships between all variables, it's unlikely that enough boats would have made it across the Atlantic in the first place. Those legends of rafts in ancient times would have had a tiny success rate, unless they followed whales or something.
Certified Blog - Education for all. By Rowan Blair Colver
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