Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Loosen up. Go Home. Smile.

In 1690, JOHN LOCKE said:  

The third branch [of Science] may be called Semeiotike, or the doctrine of signs ... the business whereof is to consider the nature of signs the mind makes use of for the understanding of things, or conveying its knowledge to others.

[paraphrasing to make this shorter, he finishes with]

... since the things the mind contemplates are not visible it is necessary that something else, as a sign or representation of the thing it considers, should be present. And because the scene of ideas that make up one man's thoughts cannot be opened to the immediate view of another, to communicate our thoughts to one another (as well as record them), signs of our ideas are necessary.

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Yesterday we talked about tightening bolts. When pondering what math subject I could address today, I thought about how we use signs and symbols as short-hand, to save on writing out full descriptions.


Here are a few less-commonly known symbols, used to save manufacturers the high cost of translating instructions into many different languages. They indicate which screws or bolts you can safely remove to take the back off a piece of equipment.

A similar set of symbols is used in public places. This meeting place symbol is used for emergencies - when you have to run out of the building due to a fire or earthquake. The spot where you gather to make sure everyone is safe should be marked like this:

I just heard we are taking off work early today, so I invented these symbols!

 I'll finish with this, and leave it to you to work out the meaning.



If you get stuck, try the Dictionary of Symbols by Carl Liungman