In order to test the mathematical pulse of the nation, the following questions were emailed to a highly selective target population.

1. What is your favorite math problem?

2. Has a math problem ever kept you up at night?

3. On a logarithmic scale, from 0 to 1, describe how positive you feel towards math?

4. If a polynomial was to breakdown on the side of the road, would you stop?

5. Have you ever used math in real life?

6. What is one question you wish math could answer?

I was underwhelmed by the number of responses. But the two emails I got were excellent. Jeff, a former student, has this to say.

1. What is your favorite math problem?

*Less of a problem, and more of a belief. There's a religion (I really wish I could remember which, or where I even heard this before), a secular Jewish religion I think, that believes the true name of god is revealed by the answer when a number is divided by zero*

2. Has a math problem ever kept you up at night?

*Surely you must by joking, Mr. Milward*

3. On a logarithmic scale, from 0 to 1, describe how positive you feel towards math?

*Is zero even a positive number? Is this a trick question?*

4. If a polynomial was to breakdown on the side of the road, would you stop?

*No, I'd keep on factoring by....*

5. Have you ever used math in real life?

*Real life? That's so limiting. I prefer to live in the square root of a negative world.*

6. What is one question you wish math could answer?

*Why are there two consecutive e's at the end of Hendree's name?*

Well done, Jeff. I pat myself on the back for having taught you so well. The only other response was from a colleague, who will remain nameless (but is directly across from me and has a Hello Kitty fetish). She answered "yuck-o-rama" when asked to pick a number between 0 and 1 to describe her feelings toward math. Don't worry. Sue and I are working on the situation right now. By early next week, we'll have her down to 'yuck'. By the end of the month, she'll be turning cartwheels for polynomials.

(pic from Kate Austin)

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