The Pleasure of Struggling

I can’t get this.
It doesn’t make sense.
What are they talking about?

I will never get this.
It’s crazy.

Wait…

Hmm…

Ah!
If I put this with this…

No…
Hmm…

Oh my!
Look at that!
How cool!

May I have another, please?



Imaginary Numbers Do the Trick, by Sue VanHattum, 12-15-08

What we call the real numbers
is everything on a number line
(positive, negative, zero).

If you're just thinking about real numbers,
none of the negative numbers can have a square root,
because anything times itself will come up positive (or 0).

But, once upon a time (for real),
there were people doing math things
who really, really wanted to have square roots of negatives.
It would make certain things they were working on
(I don't know what) sooo much easier.

So, with a wave of the magic wand of imagination,
they made up a new number.
This number is named i
(imagine it written fancier),
it's the square root of -1
(so i squared equals -1),
and it's the beginning of
the imaginary numbers.

Imagine, if you will, a new number line
of imaginaries
crossing the line of real numbers at 0.
(It looks just like x and y axes,
but now it's all one number system,
a bit more complex.)


2i, another step up the imaginary number line,
is the square root of -4. (It is?!
Why yes, 2i*2i equals 4 i squared,
and i squared equals -1,
so we get -4.
Cool, huh?)

Now all of this wouldn't really solve much
if there were no square root of i.
And that seems too weird to think about.
But, once you study trigonometry
(How'd that get in here?!),
the solution to that little problem
is actually quite elegant.


Desire In a Math Class (a grown-up's poem)