Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives, math prof Jason Brown argues mathematics makes us more creative and can help us to effectively make decisions, solve problems and spot opportunities." /> Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives, math prof Jason Brown argues mathematics makes us more creative and can help us to effectively make decisions, solve problems and spot opportunities." /> Mathematical mystery book tour begins - Dal News - Dalhousie University

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Mathematical mystery book tour begins

- May 4, 2009 Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives, math prof Jason Brown argues mathematics makes us more creative and can help us to effectively make decisions, solve problems and spot opportunities." />

Jason Brown holds his new book, Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives.(Bruce Bottomley Photo)

When you meet Jason Brown, he strikes you as more of a musician than a mathematician. With his 12-string guitar close at hand and a framed copy of an old LP he recorded in his undergraduate days, it’s hard to make the math-music connection. But his new book Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives is all about making those connections, in music and daily life.

“Mathematics is everywhere in our lives,” says Dr. Brown, a professor of mathematics in Dalhousie’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “It starts for me in the morning when I get out of bed, and it’s with me until the end of my day.”

Dr. Brown’s interest in using math to analyze music led him to write the book. His article theorizing how The Beatles played the famous opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night using mathematical principles, published in Guitar Player Magazine, unleashed a storm of interest in newspapers and on music websites around the world. It’s no wonder that a literary agent approached him soon afterwards about a book. 
 

Book launch

WHAT: Book launch for Dal math professor Jason Brown's book, Our Days Are Numbered: How Mathematics Orders Our Lives
WHO: Dr. Brown will be performing with band mates Scott Ferguson, drummer; John Chiasson, bassist; and Hal Bruce, vocalist and guitarist.
WHEN: Monday, May 4, 7 p.m.
WHERE: The Learning Centre, Chase Building, Dalhousie University.

Having spent most of his undergraduate days working as a professional musician, Dr. Brown has always been drawn to the more creative side of mathematics. His current band, Proof, plays Beatles-inspired music based on the mathematics of how The Beatles created such a unique and universally appreciated sound.

“Mathematics, unbeknownst to most people, is not just a left-brained activity,” explains Dr. Brown. “It’s really a beautiful mix of analysis and creativity.”

Dr. Brown uses this approach to find connections in everyday life, allowing readers to use math to solve problems or understand what’s happening around them. From how to calculate the correct tip in your head to the more complex task of deciphering fame, he shows how math connects everything.

“One of the most interesting things to me in mathematics is not to dig as deep as you can in one area. It’s much more interesting to be closer to the surface and to look for connections amongst various theories of mathematics or amongst other areas of science and the arts.”

Much of Dr. Brown’s book focuses on how people can use math to make decisions. In the case of the lottery and gambling, Dr. Brown writes:

Winners

Kimberley Davies, Sandy Greenberg and Stephen Murphy Campbell have each won a copy of Our Days Are Numbered, courtesy of publisher McClelland & Stewart. They submitted the answer 29 to the skill-testing question from Prof. Jason Brown: What is the 10th prime number? Thanks to all who entered.

“The key is that casinos want the odds to be in their favour, but only slightly, so that individuals will lose their money, and feel they have a chance at winning. Having said this, if you’re still hell-bent on betting, you might want to look over the losing odds and payout odds for various bets for different games and choose the bet that has the smallest spread. Even though you will likely lose money over time, you’ll be able to enjoy the experience longer.”

Not all decisions are so clear cut, but from deciding on the right spouse to understanding how governments can ignore global warming, Dr. Brown’s book provides mathematical insight.

“I think the more mathematics you bring to all these endeavors and problems, the closer you will be to understanding them and finding solutions.”

VIDEOS: Math professor uses mathematics to decode Beatles tunes | Jason Brown and his band Proof perform A Million Whys

Rachel MacKeigan is a public relations student at NSCC who is doing an internship with Dalhousie's Communications and Marketing office.


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