# Real life

## Distances on Earth 1: The Cosine Formula

Many students study trigonometry, but few get to spherical trigonometry, the study of angles and distances on a sphere. This is particularly useful in dealing with measurements on the earth (though it is not a perfect sphere). In this series, we will derive and use three different formulas for the distance between points identified by …

## How Much Does the Earth Curve?

We’ve looked at how to find the circumference of the earth, and how far we can see over the horizon. Another kind of question we’ve had about the curvature of the earth is, how much does it curve over a given distance? That has been asked in several different ways, which lead to some intriguing …

## How Far Can I See?

We have been looking at questions about the roundness of the earth, starting with the general fact, and then the determination of the size of the earth. A very common question is about how that roundness affects what we can see, sometimes as a challenge (“If I can see this, then how can the earth …

## Eratosthenes Measures the Earth

Last time we looked at a couple questions about proving the earth is round, which led into questions about how Eratosthenes measured the earth (though that in itself did not prove the earth is not flat). Let’s look at two questions about that project itself.

## Proving the Earth is Round … or Not

Can you use mathematics to prove that the earth is round? That’s a question we get from time to time, sometimes from people who want to prove the earth is flat, sometimes from people who want to convince their friends otherwise, and sometimes just from students. Let’s think about it.

(A new question of the week) Having just discussed several mathematical topics that lie behind the various graphs we have seen in the news lately, I want to depart from our usual style and answer my own current questions. We’ll look at several graphs of COVID-19’s growth and think about what we can learn from …

## Logarithmic Graphing

We’ve been looking at the math underlying some of the graphs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with exponential growth, and then logistic growth. I want to look in more detail at a feature I mentioned in the first post, viewing a graph logarithmically. This is a powerful technique that goes far beyond a button …

## Logistic Growth

Last time we looked at the meaning of exponential growth, a term commonly used in describing the initial spread of a virus such as the current SARS2 (which causes COVID-19). But exponential growth can’t continue forever, as it would soon exceed the total population. A slightly more complicated model for growth that takes into account …

## Exponential Growth

The term “exponential” has gone viral, so to speak. Do we all know what it means? In the next few posts I’ll look at answers we’ve given to questions about exponential growth and related concepts, some of them about the spread of diseases or rumors. (Disclaimer: I will be writing about the basic math, not …

## Oblique Triangles in Applications

Having just looked at how to solve oblique triangles, let’s look at a couple “word problems” (applications) involving such triangles. We’ll be using the Law of Sines, and also exploring alternative methods of solution.