Tom Lehrer - New Math

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That's Mathematics

Tom Lehrer è un personaggio originale, matematico e cantautore, ha portato la matematica nel cabaret. Nato l’8 aprile 1928, ha studiato matematica ad Harvard, ma non ha completato i suoi studi e non ha mai ottenuto il PhD in matematica. Nel 1955 venne arruolato nell’esercito e lavorò per due anni alla National Security Agency. Un’esperienza dalla quale nacquero alcune delle sue canzoni come It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier. Nel 1951, quand’era ancora studente ad Harvard, realizzò uno spettacolo di canzoni sulla fisica, la matematica, la scienza e la vita di Harvard, iniziando così la sua carriera musicale, alternata al lavoro di ricercatore a Los Alamos, nel New Mexico. Abbandonò molto presto la sua carriera musicale stufo - disse - di dover ripetere ogni sera sempre le stesse canzoni, e ritornò ai suoi studi scientifici, con brevi e sporadiche apparizioni sul palcoscenico. Dal 1962 ha insegnato dapprima al MIT, nel Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e dal 1972 alla University of California, Santa Cruz, dove ha tenuto un corso introduttivo dal titolo La natura della Matematica. Nel 2001 si è ritirato dall’insegnamento, dopo aver tenuto un ultimo corso sull’Infinito. Il suo cabaret matematico ha avuto un grande successo. Quelle che proponiamo sono tre canzoni matematiche per ognuna delle quali alleghiamo, qui di seguito, il testo.

Chi fosse interessato ad approfondire la conoscenza del cantautore può proseguire con la sua pagina personale, http://www.tomlehrer.org/, e ascoltare tutte le sue canzoni su YouTube.
Tom Lehrer, poche settimane fa, ha compiuto 80 anni. Buon Compleanno Mr. Lehrer!

Tom Lehrer al tempo di Harvard, con alcuni componenti del Physical Revue, lo spettacolo di canzoni sulla fisica, la matematica, la scienza e la vita di Harvard.

New Math

You can't take three from two,
Two is less than three,
So you look at the four in the tens place.
Now that's really four tens
So you make it three tens,
Regroup, and you change a ten to ten ones,
And you add 'em to the two and get twelve,
And you take away three, that's nine.
Is that clear?

Now instead of four in the tens place
You've got three,
'Cause you added one,
That is to say, ten, to the two,
But you can't take seven from three,
So you look in the hundreds place.

From the three you then use one
To make ten ones...
(And you know why four plus minus one
Plus ten is fourteen minus one?
'Cause addition is commutative, right!)...
And so you've got thirteen tens
And you take away seven,
And that leaves five...

Well, six actually...
But the idea is the important thing!

Now go back to the hundreds place,
You're left with two,
And you take away one from two,
And that leaves...?

Everybody get one?
Not bad for the first day!

Hooray for New Math,
New-hoo-hoo Math,
It won't do you a bit of good to review math.
It's so simple,
So very simple,
That only a child can do it!

Now, that actually is not the answer that I had in mind, because the book that I got this problem out of wants you to do it in base eight. But don't panic! Base eight is just like base ten really - if you're missing two fingers! Shall we have a go at it? Hang on...

You can't take three from two,
Two is less than three,
So you look at the four in the eights place.
Now that's really four eights,
So you make it three eights,
Regroup, and you change an eight to eight ones
And you add 'em to the two,
And you get one-two base eight,
Which is ten base ten,
And you take away three, that's seven.
Ok?

Now instead of four in the eights place
You've got three,
'Cause you added one,
That is to say, eight, to the two,
But you can't take seven from three,
So you look at the sixty-fours...

"Sixty-four? How did sixty-four get into it?" I hear you cry! Well, sixty-four is eight squared, don't you see? "Well, ya ask a silly question, ya get a silly answer!"

From the three, you then use one
To make eight ones,
You add those ones to the three,
And you get one-three base eight,
Or, in other words,
In base ten you have eleven,
And you take away seven,
And seven from eleven is four!
Now go back to the sixty-fours,
You're left with two,
And you take away one from two,
And that leaves...?

Now, let's not always see the same hands!
One, that's right.
Whoever got one can stay after the show and clean the erasers.

Hooray for New Math,
New-hoo-hoo Math!
It won't do you a bit of good to review math.
It's so simple,
So very simple,
That only a child can do it!

 

Come back tomorrow night...we're gonna do fractions!
Y'know, I've often thought I'd like to write a mathematics textbook someday because I have a title that I know will sell a million copies; I'm gonna call it Tropic of Calculus.