Confessions of a math hater.

I love math!

No, but seriously, I now, thanks to Spherical Trigonometry, LOVE math. I hated math in high school. I hated everything about it! I hated sitting in a room for hours on end trying to figure out what the teacher was trying to say, what the point of all of this calculating and equations were and what they meant. Don’t get me wrong! I passed all of my classes, I did all of my work and I spent most of my free time in Grade 12 getting extra help for Pre-Calculus 12. But for some reason sitting in some room listening to someone go on and on and on in a monotone voice has just never excited me!

Then again, I’ve always had a hard time with math. I’m not to sure why, sometimes I just don’t get the concepts, other times I just didn’t care. But when I came to Quest, I knew that I wanted to again challenge myself and see if maybe, just maybe! My undying hatred for everything Mathematical could change!

When it came time for course selection I put down a math course that I had, by this time, heard many stories about. Spherical Trigonometry. My rational for this decision was, “Well I wasn’t that bad at Trig in high school, how different could this be?” To my surprise on the first day of class… they are completely different. Sure, they share similar principles but they are two very unique principles.

I was shocked and blown away by this world of Spherical Trigonometry. Not only were many of the concepts completely different but we had to prove everything we did before we could use it. Literally everything! On the first day of class I was terrified, I was practically praying for the next three and a half weeks to just skip by and hopefully I’d manage a passing grade by the end of all of this.

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Just a week later and I was sucked in. All of a sudden I was really enjoying Math. And not just like it’s not as bad as I thought, but I was really enjoying it. I was looking forward to doing my homework when class was done. No longer was I counting the minutes for class to be over to escape the clutches of equations and sine laws but I was counting them so I could finally get to that one problem on the assignment that I had been working on for days.

I owe this new found love of math not only to the now dying field of Spherical Trigonometry but to the wonderful math tutor Glen Van Brummelen. A math historian and one of the founding tutors at Quest. Glen opened my eyes to this whole world of possibilities of mathematics and what incredible things can be done with it. For the first time in my life I’m excited to do math. I’m excited to learn about this subject I once dreaded and hated.

Sure it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride, some days are better then others. The math is hard. It challenges me daily and I feel like I’m faced with some sort of impossible wall to climb over. But then I reach the top and I feel on top of the world. I feel accomplished and excited to tackle my next challenge and I owe all of that to Glen, and Spherical Trigonometry, but for his ego’s sake, to Glen.

Now a bit about what Spherical Trig is. As you may have guessed it is the Trigonometry of spheres. Now, there are so many differences between plane trig and spherical. Like the fact that a spherical triangle can have 3 ninety degree angles and can spread all the way across a sphere or that all the side lengths are measured in degrees.

We also use a lot of really cool mathematical tools in Spherical trig. Somethings that two weeks ago would have boggled my mind. Things like…

The Lenart Sphere

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or the Armillary Sphere

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Not only that but trying to think on a spherical world rather then a plane world can be a challenge itself. Some of the hardest questions are making those connections. And don’t get me started on the weird diagrams.

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In the end, Spherical trig has given me an appreciation for math and mathematicians. It’s hard work! But, it’s also fun work. It’s a wonderfully satisfying feeling when you finally get that equation that you’ve been working on, or you can all of a sudden derive that formula you’ve spent the last three days mulling over. If I could recommend anything for those math haters out there. I would say, take Spherical trig. It’ll convert you. Even if you fight it. It’ll get you.

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