When you hear the term mathematics, what comes to mind?
When I hear the words mathematics, I think of equations and using them to model phenomena that we experience in our lives.
Do you consider yourself a mathematician? why or why not?
I do not consider myself a mathematician because math has never been my strongest area. Even though, I have taken many math courses throughout my education, I feel like I do not often turn to mathematics to answer everyday questions. I believe the essence of a mathematician would be someone who actively applies mathematical principles to many different aspects of their life. Whereas, I tend to overlook mathematics when searching for answers.
When you hear the term biology, what comes to mind?
When I hear the term biology I automatically think of life and all of its nuances and intricacies that are connected by a complex web of interactions.
Do you consider yourself a biologist? why or why not?
I consider myself a biologist because I have studied it throughout my whole life and it is has truly been a passion of mine. I think about the connections I can make to biology while performing everyday activities such as muscle contraction while at the gym, the ability of the eye to focus while watching tv, or the process of metabolism while eating a snack. Studying and discussing biology excites me and allows me to make sense of the natural world.
What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Stewart reading?
I found Stewart's analogy between birds sitting on a wire and spreading themselves out evenly to the atoms in a molecule to be quite interesting. I had never thought about this relationship or how every aspect of nature relates directly to the fundamental atoms that create it. It forced me to question if all of the things that we observe with our human senses mimic the behavior of fundamental particles that constitute these observations.
What did you find most interesting or provocative about the Janovy reading?
The statement that Janovy makes about a biologist's beliefs not being based in commercial motives was somewhat provocative to me. I agree for the most part that many biologist's develop a deep connection with nature, due to their understanding of its importance. However, I think it would be ignorant to state that all biologist have this same agenda. Especially, this day in age with the increasing exploitation of nature to satisfy human needs. Another thought comes to mind, however, Janovy could be hinting at the idea that a biologist may only be defined as an individual who possesses an empathy with nature.
What does it mean to be a biologist? Do you consider yourself a biologist? Why or why not?
A biologist understands the equality of each of the living components of the world because they comprehend the contributions they have made and continue to make to our existence. A biologist is someone who acknowledges all forms of life and analyzes the relationships between them. I consider myself a biologist because of my dedication to understanding different forms of life and attempting to understand how each impacts the other.
What does it mean to be a mathematician? Do you consider yourself a mathematician? Why or why not?
To be a mathematician is to analyze the world around us and apply laws and patterns to explain them. A mathematician recognizes the omnipresence of math and attributes math to every corner of our existence. Rather than just observing the physical existence of various things, a mathematician seeks to understand how these things come about. After reading these chapters, I became aware that mathematicians manifest themselves in many different areas, but they all share the same ability to model the natural world with mathematical concepts. Before reading, I would not consider myself to be a mathematician. However, after reading I will claim myself to be a mathematician because even though I do not work well with specific aspects of math, this does not prevent me from trying to develop a deep understanding and appreciation for nature, beyond its beauty.
What are the similarities and differences between the two readings?
Both readings suggest the significance of applying science outside of the classroom and using the lessons we learn from our professors to create our own understanding of the natural world. One slight difference between the two readings is the connection to morality and ethicality of philosophy. I felt that Janovy's writing appealed a bit more to these disciplines than Stewart's.
Stewart, I. (2006) Letters to a Young Mathematician, New York, NY: Basic Books, pp. 1-10, 45-52.
Janovy, J. (1996) On Becoming a Biologist (2nd ed.), Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 1-33.
Assignment:Week 1 Assignment Page