19-21 Segment 2: Appreciating the Beauty of Calculus


For many, learning about mathematics can be a terrifying and daunting task. Steven StrogatzJacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University, is on a mission to fix math’s bad reputation. In his book Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe, he washes away the complex symbols and technicalities that stop many from even exploring the idea of calculus.

Strogatz discusses the importance of learning the basics of calculus and not only the math itself, but also understanding its historical prevalence and everyday use in our world.

Discovered by Archimedes in 250 BC, calculus began with the age-old question of how to calculate the area of a circle. Over two thousand years later, the discipline allowed mankind to reach the moon. In between and since, the discipline has been just as useful, and not only in science, tech, and medicine but also in understanding the make-up of our natural world and applying math to real-world circumstances.

To put it in the simplest form, Strogatz makes math fun, even for those that already have a hatred of it. Pick up Infinite Powers and listen to one of his many appearances on Radiolab, a radio show/podcast produced by WNYC Studios, to learn more. 

Guest:

  • Steven Strogatz, professor, applied mathematics and Cornell University and author, Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe

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