The excellent NPR science show Radiolab recently did a show on mathematics. They discuss topics such as an infant’s understanding of quantity, Erdös numbers, and the surprising Benford’s Law. You can listen or download here.
Great show! I had my students in Cultural Approaches to Mathematics listen to it a few weeks ago, since we had been talking about whether or not number words and the ability to count was a human universal, and one segment of the show talks about a fascinating study suggesting that ‘logarthmic’ counting may be more natural in the biological sense, and linear counting may be more of a human invention. Interesting stuff!
I found the logarithmic thinking fascinating. I find that students have a difficult time with this type of thinking, which makes me think that we must spin their minds around once moving them from a logarithmic way of thinking to a linear way of thinking, and then again when we re-introduce logarithms. Poor kids…