Top 5 Books About Math

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If the quadratic formula makes you excited, or if finding the diameter of a circle is practically a walk in the park for you, then these books will be sure to put a smile on your face. There are not many well-known math-related books, simply because math has always been more of a numbers game. However, the library has some great books about brilliant math masterminds, interesting mathematical discoveries, and tips for teaching math.

 

Biography: The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth

Author: Paul Hoffman

Publisher description:

For more than six decades, Erdos lived out of two tattered suitcases, crisscrossing four continents at a frenzied pace, chasing mathematical problems and fresh talent. Erdos saw mathematics as a search for lasting beauty and ultimate truth. It was a search Erdos never abandoned, even as his life was torn asunder by some of the major political dramas of our time. In this biography, Hoffman uses Erdos’s life and work to introduce readers to a cast of remarkable geniuses, from Archimedes to Stanislaw Ulam, one of the chief minds behind the Los Alamos nuclear project.

 

Nonfiction: Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences

Author: John Allen Paulos

Publisher description:

Examines the nation’s burgeoning inability to deal rationally with very large numbers, assesses the impact on government policymaking and everyday life, and shows what can be done about this.

 

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Fiction: Flatland

Author: Edwin Abbott Abbott

Publisher description:

Flatland, Edwin Abbott Abbott’s story of a two-dimensional universe, as told by one of its inhabitants who is introduced to the mysteries of three-dimensional space, has enjoyed an enduring popularity from the time of its publication in 1884. This fully annotated edition enables the modern day reader to understand and appreciate the many “dimensions” of this classic satire with commentary on language and literary style, including numerous definitions of obscure words and an appendix on Abbott’s life and work.

 

Nonfiction: How Not To Be Wrong

Author: Jordan Ellenburg

Publisher description:

In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us that math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do–the whole world is shot through with it. Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It’s a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does “public opinion” really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer?

 

Biography: A Beautiful Mind

Author: Sylvia Nasar

Publisher description:

In this biography, Sylvia Nasar re-creates the life of a mathematical genius whose brilliant career was cut short by schizophrenia and who, after three decades of devastating mental illness, miraculously recovered and was honored with a Nobel Prize. A Beautiful Mind traces the meteoric rise of John Forbes Nash, Jr., from his lonely childhood in West Virginia to his student years at Princeton, where he encountered Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, and a host of other mathematical luminaries.

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Denial”

This past Sunday, January 27th, was the 74th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  I found the film Denial, which confronts the horrors of the Holocaust, particularly moving and relevant for today’s audiences.

 Denial is based on Deborah Lipstadt’s book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.  The movie begins in 1994 with Deborah Lipstadt, a Holocaust professor played by Rachel Weisz, giving a lecture in an American university.  Suddenly, she is ambushed by Nazi Historian David Irving (played by Timothy Stall) who scolds her in public, accusing her of slander and libelous conduct when she identified him as a Holocaust denier in her latest book. He then proceeds to sue her and her publisher Penguin Books in libel lawsuit.

What makes this case so fascinating and perilous is that, under the United Kingdom’s laws, if someone thinks that what you wrote about them is either defamatory or damaging, the responsibility will be entirely on you to prove that your comments are true in court. In other words, if you make the claim, you’ve got to prove it! So Deborah Lipstadt must then prove in court that David Irving is a Holocaust denier. Her council and lawyers fear that David Irving is seeking to put the entire Holocaust on trial to further his ambition and fame. In Deborah’s corner, she is joined by famous solicitor Anthony Julius (portrayed by Andrew Scott) who represented the late Princess Diana in her divorce case. Her barrister is that of Richard Rampton who is famous for dealing with libel cases; he is played by Tom Wilkinson.

Throughout the course of the trial there are many ups and downs. For example, David Irving chooses to represent himself and proves to be a formidable adversary who is quick to use legal mechanisms to his advantage. While Deborah and her team travel all the way to Auschwitz Concentration Camp to find evidence to destroy Irving’s claims. Towards the end of the film it feels as if the judge’s decision could go either way and it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat.

 

*This film is rated PG-13 for Language and it is available at the Union University Library.

 

Personal note: Denial came to my attention last year, and it became an instant favorite for me. Allow me to share a little bit of my background and studies in an attempt to explain why this film left such an impression on your humble writer. Last year I graduated with my bachelor’s degree which I built myself around History and Political Science. I’ve always loved history; I also enjoy trying to understand how and why it happened the way it did. So having some political insight is very useful to understanding history in context.  My grandfather served in WW2 and that too also sparked my curiosity and interest in Denial.

When my grandfather passed away a few years back, my family and I were cleaning out some of his drawers and discovered several items dating back to his days in the service. Of all the things I found among his belongs, two things struck me to my core. Late in the war he served as a jeep driver for high ranking officers and generals. In doing his duty he personally drove U.S military commanders to various Death Camps and witnessed the horrific aftermath that the Nazis left in their attempts at the final solution.

What I found in my grandfather’s possessions were two grainy photos showing piles of human remains stacked well over six feet in the air. It was something I will never be able to forget, and I know it left a lasting impression on my grandfather. It is truly frightening what humans are capable of doing to one another. That is why we can never forget what happened and why we should always call out the truly insidious individuals that attempt to downplay or outright deny the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Book Review: “Brief Answers To The Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking

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Published after the death of the famous, accomplished scientist Stephen Hawking, Brief Answers to the Big Questions is Hawking’s final words on the state of the earth and space. Throughout his career, Hawking was noted for his theories about black holes, time, and the universe. A film about his life called The Theory of Everything was released in 2014; star Eddie Redmayne provides the foreword for Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Like many others, Redmayne was both intimidated and awed by Hawking- who, in spite of his attempts to make science available to the general layperson, was still a formidable genius set apart from others. This side of Hawking definitely comes to light in Brief Answers to the Big Questions. In fact, I think Hawking unfortunately had a lower view of humanity which affected how he perceived the past, present, and future.

There are 10 questions asked of Hawking in this book:

  1. Is there a God?
  2. How did it all begin?
  3. Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
  4. Can we predict the future?
  5. What is inside a black hole?
  6. Is time travel possible?
  7. Will we survive on earth?
  8. Should we colonise space?
  9. Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
  10. How do we shape the future?

 

I won’t give away Hawking’s answers, but many of them can actually be found in Hawking’s other books, like A Brief History of TimeIn general, Hawking does take a more negative view of how humans will handle some of these big questions. For example, in regards to surviving on earth, Hawking muses:

We can be an ignorant, unthinking lot. When we have reached similar crises [global warming and climate destruction] in our history, there has usually been somewhere else to colonise . . .  But now there is no new world. No Utopia around the corner. We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds.

Yet Hawking believes that, if more people become interested in science and space travel, humans may be able to find a new way of sustainable living.

To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach- everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the 1960s. The technology is almost within our grasp. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves.

Overall, Hawking answers each question by explaining his research and that of others. He gives his opinion as a well-learned scientist without allowing for theological implications, since he believes that they are unnecessary. This can obviously be frustrating for Christians and other religious people.

Still, the special thing about Hawking’s writing is his ability to make large, abstract concepts make sense to people who are not scientists. I may not fully grasp every aspect of Hawking’s work, but I do understand Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle because of Hawking. Hawking made “the big questions” more accessible to people, and for that (along with his scientific discoveries and his inspirational life journey), he will certainly be missed.

 

*Read Brief Answers to Big Questions for an overview of Hawking’s theories and philosophy. It is available here at the library.

How To View Dissertations Online

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If you’re looking for a dissertation online, there are two major search options that the library can offer you:

1. The easiest way to look for a dissertation or thesis is by searching the library catalog, using the search box on the home page. You can narrow down your search by author, year, etc. by checking the boxes on the left of the search results pages. Sometimes the dissertations will say that they are available online, while others will only be available in print form in the library. Keep an eye out for links or eBooks that may allow you to view a dissertation online.

2. Another great way to view dissertations online is by using the ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Global database. ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Global (PQDT Global) simplifies searching for dissertations and theses via a single access point to explore an extensive, trusted collection of 3.8 million graduate works, with 1.7 million in full text. Designated as an official offsite repository for the U.S. Library of Congress, PQDT Global offers comprehensive historic and ongoing coverage for North American works and significant and growing international coverage from a multiyear program of expanding partnerships with international universities and national associations.

You can get to this database (and many others) by using the Databases, eBooks, & Media link on the library website.

5 Tips For Landing An Internship

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Often times, getting your first big job out of college requires some kind of prior experience. This can be difficult to get as you have been in college the last four years dedicating your time to learning about the thing you want to do for the rest of your life. One good way to overcome this experience barrier is through getting into an internship for your desired place of work; however, internships can be extremely competitive. This time of year is when more and more people are preparing to apply for internships. Here are 5 tips to get ready for the internship that is best for you.

  1. Build a Resume: Having a well-structured resume is crucial to applying for an internship. Keeping your information clear, concise, and to the point is extremely important. The Vocatio Center on campus is excellent at helping create the perfect resume for you.
  2. Create a Cover Letter: Creating a letter specifically to describe why you are the best person for a specific job will give you a huge competitive edge over the other candidates. This one is often underutilized. Most people I have personally talked to have never created a cover letter in their life. Again, the Vocatio Center can help you create the best possible cover letter.
  3. Do Your Research: Make sure you know a lot about the places you are applying to. Does the company seem like a place you would want to spend 40 hours a week? Do past employees enjoy the work environment? If the internship is paid, what kind of pay has this company offered in the past? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you make the decision that is best for you!
  4. Apply to Multiple Places: Just like for college, it is a good idea to apply for a lot of different places. There is a chance you will not get your number one choice, so it is a good idea to apply for multiple places, just to be sure.
  5. Be Fully Prepared for the Interview: Once you get asked to come in for an interview, be sure you are completely ready. Have talking points prepared for any possible question they might throw at you. Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up! Being humble is good, just not always in an interview setting. Be sure to know a lot about the company, and be sure to explain how you can improve what they are doing there. Mock interviews to practice for the real thing are also offered at the Vocatio Center!

 

*written by Donny Turner

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “The 13th Warrior”

It’s a new year and a great time to review some odd gems of cinema history. In my ongoing review of films that catch my attention and critical acclaim, I hope to shine the spotlight on films that have taken on a cult status.  Although today’s film was not financially successful nor did it achieve fame from a wider audience, it is often taken for granted among the adventure genre of films.

First a bit of background on this film: the 13th Warrior was released in 1999 and it was adapted from a book by the famous Michael Crichton entitled Eaters of the Dead.  Michael Crichton is more widely known for his novel Jurassic Park. During the mid to late 90’s Crichton’s novels were being adapted to film as fast as possible hoping for another big hit like Jurassic Park. Thus enters director John McTeiran, who’s best known for directing action hits like Predator and Die Hard. Although this film seemed like it would be a great success, it ended up coming in way over budget and flopped with audiences at the box office with estimates at a $120-million-dollar loss.

Now I hope to make the case that this film is not nearly as bad as it is made out to be. While it does have some obvious shortcomings, I still think this film shines in its narrative and set design, and the actors really try to give it their all in spite of the problems associated with the filming and production disputes. I think modern audiences can appreciate an adventure piece set in the dark ages due to a renaissance in the popularity of Norse Viking culture and current trends in video games such as the like of Skyrim.

Plot Synopsis

This film’s story begins with our main protagonist, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, played by Antonio Banderas. Ahamd ibn Fadlan is based in part of a real historical figure who would go on to write and describe his time spent as an ambassador to the Volga Vikings. In this adaptation Ahamd ibn Fadlan is forced to travel with 12 Vikings on a sacred mission of honor back to the far north of their homeland because an ancient enemy has returned and is terrorizing a Norse Kingdom. We are introduced to the leader and King of the Viking warriors: Buliwyf, played by Vladimir Kulich.  Buliwyf encompasses all the traits one would expect to find in a Viking, boasting a tall, silent, stoic appearance that can turn in an instant into ferocious fighter steeped in knowledge of Norse religion. His character is loosely based in homage to that of the mythical Beowulf.   The last character that stands out amongst the rest is that of Herger played by the Norwegian actor Dennis Storhøi. Herger’s character has the closest relationship to Ahamd and the two develop a quick friendship. Herger helps to explain the different culture the Vikings possess while being a friendlier and comedic character in stark contrast to the rest of the Vikings.

In summary, the 13th Warrior was a swing and a miss with mainstream audiences and to many it feels like an unfinished film due to some pacing issues. I wouldn’t go as far as some do and rule it out as a bad film, and I wouldn’t suggest it’s a B film either as the tone remains serious throughout and isn’t that campy. I think what’s most important is that I grew up with the film when there weren’t many choices in the genre as the Viking craze was still years off and this film has a very good period piece feel to it. So why not give this film a try- if it’s not the best, it’s at least entertaining!

This film is available at the Union University Library the Logos.

* Please note The 13th Warrior is rated R for violence throughout and some minor language.

**written by Matthew Beyer

 

 

 

Spotlight on Informe Académico

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Informe Académico is a Spanish language database provided by Gale resources. Its Latino magazines cover business, health, technology, culture, current affairs, and other subjects. If you do better research in Spanish, or if you are trying to practice your Spanish reading comprehension, this database will be helpful for you.

Like the other Gale databases, Informe Académico lists trending searches (búsquedas principales) on its front page. For example, the current most popular topics are Cambio climático, Desarrollo económico, México democracia, Narcotráfico, and Revolución Cubana.

Informe Académico has over 9 million articles and counting. When you need the latest news in Spanish, this database is a great place to look. Simply locate Informe Académico under the library’s “Databases, E-books, and Media” tab and click on it to access this important resource.

Featured eBook: “I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories Of Becoming A Nurse”

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I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out is a collection of vibrant, funny, honest narrative essays by nurses working in vastly different settings – everything from a cancer ward to a Mercy Ship off the coast of Africa to an Israeli mental hospital.

As editor Lee Gutkind explains in the introduction, “Every essay tells a different story, but all of the essays have a common theme: no matter how difficult nurses’ lives or how secret their suffering, becoming a nurse entails movement into another dimension of strength and character and persistence; it is a path of irreplaceable and often unacknowledged service to society and humanity.”

“Becoming a nurse…is a path of irreplaceable and often unacknowledged service to society and humanity.”

Both sobering and inspirational, this eBook provides a collection of stories that will appeal not only to nursing students but to anyone who loves a good human interest story.

You can access our eBooks collection by searching our regular catalog on the website or going to Databases, E-books, and Media in the Quick Links section of the site.

Top 5 Music Databases

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Did you know that you can stream music online, for free, via the library? We have access to various music databases and their resources. Listed below are 5 of the best music databases that you can use here at Union.

 

Naxos Music Library

The Naxos Music Library is the world’s largest online classical music library. Currently, it offers streaming access to more than 46,000 CDs with more than 653,000 tracks, standard and rare repertoire. It also includes classical, jazz, classic pop, rock, and world music labels with more labels joining every month.

 

Fine Arts and Music Collection (Gale)

With more than 150 full-text magazines and journals covered in databases such as the Wilson Art Index and RILM, this collection will provide support for research in areas such as drama, music, art history, and filmmaking.

 

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New Mozart Edition

This project of the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum and The Packard Humanities Institute provides access to digital editions of Mozart’s works for personal study and educational use. PDF files of the works are available under the “Table of Contents” link.

 

Oxford Music Online

Includes the Oxford Dictionary of Music, Grove Music Online, and the Oxford Companion to Music. Search more than 50,000 signed articles and 30,000 biographies contributed by over 6,000 scholars from around the world, Grove Music Online is the unsurpassed authority on all aspects of music.

 

RLM Abstracts of Music Literature

RILM, a comprehensive, ongoing guide to publications on music from all over the world, is an indispensable tool for scholars, students, librarians, performers, teachers, and music lovers. RILM includes over 620,000 records; over 30,000 new records are added every year, covering all document types: articles, books, bibliographies, catalogues, dissertations, Festschriften, iconographies, critical commentaries to complete works, ethnographic recordings, conference proceedings, electronic resources, reviews, and more.

 

Donny’s Deductions: Super Smash Bros. & The Gender Barrier

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The library has books and resources on video games, too! Read Donny’s essay on what he’s learned about gender in the gaming community, and check out our eBooks on related subjects.

In competitive video gaming, there tends to be a gap between male and female competitors. In any professional team, one rarely sees a woman playing on a team or making it to the top of tournaments. This is quite surprising because women are scientifically better at quick decision making and hand-eye coordination. They should be represented better; however, the putting down of female gamers has caused women to feel unwelcome in most gaming communities. Hopefully, this is changing.

Super Smash Brothers, a two decade long fighting gaming series that has come out with 4 distinct titles (and a 5th coming out December 7th, 2018) focuses on popular characters fighting each other and has amassed a considerable following in the competitive scene. Smash Bros. Melee, the second game in the series, has the most dedicated followers, but the most recent one has brought in the most new players. For years, the Smash Bros. community faced similar problems that other gaming communities faced: segregation among genders. Often times, women would be looked down upon at tournaments or even made fun of simply because of their gender. More often than not, this dissuaded female competitors to participate in tournaments; they felt uncomfortable and harassed. Thankfully, this has been noticed recently and is being worked on.

The leaders in the competitive scene of Smash Brothers have worked hard to make sure everyone feels welcome. Some tournament organizers helped form Smash Sisters, a side event at tournaments specifically for women. This isn’t ideal, as the best situation would be for female players to just compete in the same tournaments as the male ones, but it is a stepping stone to getting to the right place, and many female competitors have noted that this has helped them feel more involved and accepted. The trend to fight sexism has also popped up greatly online.

On websites like Reddit and SmashBoards (a forum website dedicated to the competitive Smash Bros scene), many have started real discussion about how there must be more equality. In the most recent iteration of the game, there are many female characters. When deciding which characters are the best in the game, there has been no gender stereotypes. Female characters are placed just as high (or low) as other characters. The only determinant on the best characters is through merit, and their gender is not a factor. When character specific discussions have popped up, female character’s appearance is talked about more than the male characters. Thankfully, this discussion is focused primarily on the characters, and the sexualization of the female cast has dropped significantly over the last few years. If anyone starts to comment on the body of a female character in forums, others are more quick to rebuke them. There is no support for hypersexual discussion. This online focus has translated well into the real world.

Female competitors still face sexism at tournaments, but it has gotten better in the last few years. If any competitor is seen getting harassed, or if they ever feel uncomfortable, the harassing party is kicked out and often banned from tournaments. There is no tolerance for bad behavior. Also, when female players ask questions about certain aspects of the game, there is almost no condescending behavior towards the competitor. Their question is simply answered just like they would answer any other player. The gender barrier in the competitive gaming community still exists, but it is getting less and less prevalent. Through hard work from everyone in the community, this gap will, and should, disappear.

 

To read more on this subject, check out this eBook (available from the library)!

Female Fighters: Perceptions of Femininity in the Super Smash Bros. Community