Math in Everyday Life

I write a regular monthly column on the Science page of Chronicle Herald, Halifax's newpaper. Each article sees current events and issues with a mathematical eye (or two!). Here are some recent articles:

"Social math of bullying" (November 16, 2013)

"Antics like the Cyrus sidshow insults women's smarts" (October 19, 2013)

"Chant shows perils of poor decision-making" (September 20, 2013)

"Sad tale of train wreck numbers" (August 10, 2013)

"Proper feedback vital for students' success" (July 12, 2013)

"In life, it's all work" (June 21, 2013)

"Math games can be a way to learn crucial life lessons" (May 10, 2013)

"There ain't no cure for math" (April 20, 2013)

"You are what you eat, dependiing on the variables" (March 22, 2013)

"Buyer beware: a penny lost does add up over time" (February 16, 2013)

"Crime statistics can be vastly misleading" (January 19, 2013)

"Let me play you a little number" (December 22, 2012)

"Math expert helped end WWII" (November 10, 2012)

"Dal grad inspires enjoyable teaching memories" (October 20, 2012)

"Math of money doesn't always add up as expected" (September 22, 2012)

"Vacation proves great art often defies rigour of analysis" (August 18, 2012)

"Deeper thought can pay off" (July 21, 2012)

"A calculating approach to my gym workouts" (June 16, 2012)

"Take a mathematician to court to fight a ticket" (May 19, 2012)

"Math students need to practise, practise, practise" (April 21, 2012)

"Two-person games and the science of negotiations" (March 17, 2012)

"Count the ways to make relationship a lasting one" (February 18, 2012)

"Van Gogh fakes yield to math" (January 21, 2012)

"12+12=6: That’s my sum and I’m sticking to it" (December 17, 2011)

"Sid the Kid’s value, based on the Pythagorean theorem" (November 19, 2011)

"Brilliant is as brilliant does: Words to live by" (October 15, 2011)

"In praise of early alcohol abstinence" (September 17, 2011)

"Leonardo: math, creativity align" (August 13, 2011)

"Try out your own six degrees of separation" (July 9, 2011)

"Opinion polls, like politicians, should be taken with a grain of salt" (May 28, 2011)

"Bullying by the numbers" (April 30, 2011)

"Trying to make sense out of chaos" (March 19, 2011)

"Mulling the math of romance" (February 14, 2011)

"Math isn't about getting right answer, but learning from problem" (January 22, 2011)

"Apple's Best Gift Was Beatles Catalogue" (December 21, 2010)

"Profiling Logical But Can Be Misused" (November 21, 2010)

"Families Need Ethical Axioms" (October 16, 2010)

"Math solid on climate change, steroids in baseball" (September 18, 2010)

"No sense in Tories' approach to census" (August 21, 2010)

"Mathematical mind appreciates the paradox" (July 17, 2010)

"Picture this: visuals put large numbers in perspective" (June 24, 2010)

"Celebrity Math Rehab" (May 15, 2010)

"Global warming game shows importance of public pressure" (April 22, 2010)

The opening chord of A Hard Day's Night:

That famous opening chord - is there any other chord in rock 'n' roll that is as instantly recognizable? Yet, how George Harrison got that sound out of his Rickenbacker 12-string was an enduring mystery. It took a bit of mathematics to uncover the rest of the story. The original article Mathematics, Physics and A Hard Day's Night appeared in the October 2004 issue of the CMS (Canadian Mathematical Society) Notes. The article provides the first scientific evidence for the intrumentation, notes and voicing of the famous chord that opened The Beatles' movie of the same name. It wasn't just George Harrison playing on that chord, nor was he the only George contributing!

An abridged version appeared in the January 2005 issue of Guitar Player Magazine.


The Half-Speed Mystery of George's Solo:

George Harrison's solo in A HardDay's Night is a feat of mastery, not only in its construction, but also in its technicality. How did George play it so fast and so accurately? The Half-Speed Mystery of "A Hard Day's Night" provides proof that the Georges (!) recorded the solo at half-speed down the octave and appeared in the November 2006 issue of Guitar Player Magazine.

The Mathematics of John's Left Hand:

The Beatles conquered America with I Want To Hold Your Hand, an amazing song. have you ever noticed that the melody is completely in key, with nary a blues note to be found? And yet the song rocks. In an article in Guitar Player Magazine (March 2009) I describe the mathematics that John and Paul used, subconsciously, when writing the bridge of the song. The very proof lies in John's left hand!

Deducing the Blues:

Everyone loves the blues chord progression. you hear it, you know it, you feel it. By why is the blues chord progression so good, so right? In Deducing the Blues (Notes of the Canadian Mathematical Society, May 2009) I show how the blues chord progression can be derived as the musical model for a thrilling roller coaster ride. Hop on board!

Let Me Take You Down - The Mathematics Behind the Most Famous Edit in Rock 'n' Roll:

John Lennon wrote his masterpiece in 1966, but despite several takes, he was unhappy with the result. How liked the first part of one take, the second part of another, and sked the Beatles' producer, George Martin, to splice them together. GM was incredulous,as the two takes were at different tempos and in different keys! What to do? Read why it worked, and why the solution could never satisfy Paul's keen sense of rhythm.

Authorship: In Whose Style is "In My Life"?

After The Beatls "divorced", various reporters asked John and Paul who wrote each song, as all of them were attributed to "Lennon and McCartney." They agreed opn almost all songs, except notably "In My Life", where Paul claimed to have written all of the music, while John said he wrote all of the song, except for possibly some help with Paul in the "middle eight". When so much tiem has past and memories fade, how can we determine matheamtically in whose style a song is? In (A) Data In the Life: Authorship Attribution in Lernnon-McCartney Songs (Harvard Data Science Review 1.1, 2019) we use machine learning and statistics to classify each song in question, including "In My Life"!