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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

Questioning our common sense
The appeal of "Nature as Seen from Mathematics"

Yu Otsuka
5th year student at the School of Education
Kano Kase
2nd year student at the School of Education
Junichi Hadano
4th year student at the School of Sport Sciences
Maho Mikami
1st year student at the School of Sport Sciences

The appeal of a course in which debate never ceases, despite a small number of students

The main topic which we studied in the course "Nature as Seen from Mathematics" is the type of orbit that the earth follows around the sun.

Actually, the type of orbit can be verified from the very beginning. First, display the position of the planet as a vector and then apply Kepler's 2nd law. Afterwards, by distorting the resulting movement equation, it is possible to verify that the revolution of the earth's orbit is elliptical. As implied by the name of the course, students are able to experience how classroom theory corresponds to the actual natural world as the course name says. Furthermore, in the second half of the course, students conduct a presentation and consider solutions for mathematics which they questioned in the course of their studies.

The attitude of having a questioning mind is necessary to study in this course. Although the explanation given above uses some difficult terms, even students who have no knowledge of mathematics or physics are fine in the course. Students can ask any questions that they may have regarding the handouts distributed by the instructor, and they can continue to inquire until they are satisfied with the answer. The class environment is one in which Professor Shoichi Kondo and students thoroughly consider matters together in order to resolve questions. In addition to questions asked by us students, the instructor also asks questions to us. "Why do you think so?"-This simple question of the instructor has often led students to new realizations.

Even matters which seem to be common sense cease to be common sense when viewed from a different perspective. For example, we have learned that the sum of the interior angles of a triangle is equal to 180 degrees. However, a sum of more than 180 degrees is possible when drawing triangles which are aligned with the curve of the earth.

Our perception of common sense has been formed by the education which we have received at school. Therefore, we only view mathematics in the form through which we have been taught. This course provides an opportunity to consider mathematics through perspectives, aspects and points of view which students have never experienced before. Even in the case of basic mathematics learned in elementary and junior high school, questioning and reconsideration exposes the extent to which we have studied mathematics through limited debate. The ultimate appeal of this course is the opportunity to study the main topic of "Nature as Seen from Mathematics" through perspectives that encompass a number of different fields.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)