# Month: February 2020

## Can We Find the Area of a Sphere Exactly?

(An archive question of the week) While gathering answers to questions about volume and surface area formulas, I ran across this question that applies to all of them: Given all the approximations and assumptions we make in the derivations we show (without calculus), how can we claim that the resulting formula is exact? Or can …

## Volume of a Pyramid – Without Calculus

Last week we looked at ways to derive the formulas for volume and surface area of a sphere, without using calculus. Let’s do the same this time for a pyramid. We’ll be seeing one method that comes very close to calculus (slicing and infinite series), and another that is fully geometrical (dissection, which we’ll do …

## Making a Sphere from Flat Material

(A new question of the week) A recent question asking how to make a sphere out of flat material called for a look at an old question on the same topic, and some new ideas, including thoughts about approximation. And we actually get to see the physical result of our assistance, which is rare! Designing …

## Volume and Surface Area of a Sphere – Without Calculus

We often get questions about deriving formulas for area and volume; usually when the question is about a sphere, the context is calculus, so we talk about integration, the usual modern method. But for students who only know geometry, “wait until you learn calculus” can be unsatisfying. Fortunately, there are a couple ways to do …

## Supply, Demand, and Proportion

(A new question of the week) Since we looked at a question about economics last week, let’s examine another, which is very different, relating the supply and demand curves to the concept of variation or proportion. We are not economists, so we can’t go deeply into that subject, but it makes us think about some …

## Derivative as Instantaneous Rate of Change

(An archive question of the week) Last week we looked at a recent question that touched on the idea of the derivative as a rate of change. Let’s look at a long discussion from a few years ago digging into what that means within calculus. Instantaneous rate, or rate per inch? Here’s the question, from …

## Marginal vs Derivative: Same or Different?

(A new question of the week) Economics can be a deeply mathematical subject; but as a separate field, it has its own terminology and notation which can sometimes be confusing. Is marginal revenue (or cost, etc.) the same as the derivative of the revenue function, or is it something different? That will be the issue …

## Summing Divisors

In searching for answers about counting divisors over the last couple weeks, I found a few that are about the similar question of finding the sum of a number’s divisors. In fact, a couple questions and answers confuse the two problems. Let’s finish off the topic by looking at these. (Keep in mind that “divisor” …