“Do you have any idea where this place is?”, asked the lecturer (whom I regret not having a picture with).
“Dorm”, the most bibo members of the class said, always the first to answer.
“Condo”, “Hostel”, “My house”, some other quipped.
“This” the lecturer said, pausing for dramatic effect, “is what a prison in Norway looks like”.
There was a chorus of “Ohhs” and “Ahhs” while I sat there jittery. Duh, I’ve seen that somewhere more than a year ago. But that wasn’t the cause of my anxiousness.
You see, I am not supposed to be here. The class is full of Civil Engineering graduates racking their brains out for the licensure exam in September. I have no right to be here. I didn’t pay for the lecture. But I figure one curious outsider sitting in one session for one day wouldn’t hurt the finances of the review center (hello Review Innovations). If I am caught, the worst that will happen is embarrassment from being kicked out and that doesn’t worry me.
I am excited. The next one and a half hours will be the closest I would be to reuniting with my old love, Mathematics.
The lecture was a blur of numbers and formulas. Time went by swiftly primarily because it was only a refresher (majority of the class appeared bored because in my engineering friend’s words, “it’s just basic”, a couple slept, the bibo kids continued answering) the lecturer assumed everyone could follow his faster-than-average pace. However, for me, it was all new — from the drawings of planks to the computation of the allowable axial load considering this and that — and I gladly absorbed everything that my
rotting brain could accommodate.
2 hours, 4 problems, 3 pages of solutions and a throbbing-ly sweet headache after, I realized why I fell in love with the subject almost everyone loves to hate in the first place.
- For starters, I like the black and whiteness of Mathematics. There can be a dozen different solutions, a million ways to understand and solve the problem but most if not all of the time, there’s only one answer. Unlike in literature for example where a single word can mean a hundred things, in Math, a pi is a pi. A right angle is 90 degrees. 500 is 500. Not 499, not 501 but 500. In short, you are either right or wrong. No such thing as almost-there-but-not-quite.
- Also, its ironical that despite its “exactness”, Math can also be related with unfathomable terms like “infinity”. There’s Pi to a million digits, there are infinite sets, there are repeating decimals that go on forever and there are irrational decimals, those which neither repeat nor terminate.
- Biology is to living things, Zoology is to animals, Philosophy is to thoughts, Economics is to allocating finite sources. Math? it’s not only about numbers and quantity (though that’s the only aspect I am familiar with). In fact, Math is so cool even mathematicians and philosophers have a hard time defining the exact scope of it.
- You are not given the “gift” of memorization? That’s fine because Math doesn’t need memorization (well, a little). All you have to do is understand the “HOWs” and “WHEREs”. Like, “Where the hell did that fudge come from?”. No war dates, no historical people, no difficult subject-verb agreements and conjugations and other whatnots.
- It’s harder to cheat during Math exams especially if showing solutions is required. Got the answer right? OK honey, show me how you did it. This is one of the sweetest things a bullied Math geek can experience: when his parasite classmates get an F (plus warning for cheating) and they couldn’t blame him because, after all, he let them copy.
- You can do Math alone. Math can sometimes be equated with solitude. Heck, even during group works (the tendency is) only one person will work for the requirement. You only need another soul if you want to have someone to compare answers with.
- Math is actually helpful. No, you don’t use sines and cosines when buying food but Math is the reason why the building where you live in do not immediately crumble to the ground after an earthquake. It’s used by your parents to make money. Heck, it’s used by insurance companies and banks to make money out of us. Math determines the probability of you being stabbed on your way out while wearing your favorite T-shirt.
- There’s a sense of direction/satisfaction/accomplishment/pride every time you answer a Math problem correctly. Unlike in other subjects where you only recall certain answers (Who killed whom, when did whom did what, etc), in Math you don’t recall answers. You solve for them.
- In relation to number #1: there’s always another way to figure the problem out. Make your own formula if you want.
- Just like what Cady Hero said, Math is universal because it’s the same in every country. Math doesn’t play favorites and I love it for that.
So long my love. Till we meet again.