- On why a liberal arts education is important for STEM majors, by Claudia Clark

"Why STEM Majors Need the Humanities," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 January 2017 - On
*Discover's*top 100 stories, by Claudia Clark

Top 100 Science Stories, #23, 35, and 48,"*Discover*, January/February 2017

**On why a liberal arts education is important for STEM majors, by Claudia Clark**

In this article, mathematics professor Neal Koblitz makes the case for science, math, and engineering majors to study the humanities. He laments the "weakening of liberal-arts traditions and the corporatization of higher education," which includes the "nationwide trend toward education-on-the-cheap" in entry-level courses. This manifests itself in the increasing number of undergraduate courses being taught online—which he argues is "in most cases not good for the student"—and the increasing number of non-research faculty teaching introductory courses—which he asserts "creates further distance between students and the world of research and innovation." Koblitz's argument in favor of the liberal arts tradition is a simple one: "With few exceptions, in order for people in the STEM professions to have an impact, they must be able to write effectively and creatively." In essense, they must be able to "tell a story." He provides several examples of the importance of this ability, not just for writers of groundbreaking books and articles, but also for "rank-and-file" scientists and engineers: a well-written grant application may have a greater chance of success, and a journal article with an engaging introduction may attract more readers.

"How can a student learn to tell a story well?" Koblitz asks. "First and foremost by reading great literature. Another way students can learn how to analyze content and trace the development of an idea is through the study of history. And finally, one of the most effective ways to acquire a broad perspective and an appreciation for the nuances of communication is through the study of foreign languages and literatures."

See "Why STEM Majors Need the Humanities," Neal Koblitz, *The Chronicle of Higher Education*, 6 January 2017.

*--- Claudia Clark*

**On Discover's top 100 stories, by Claudia Clark **

Three of the stories included in *Discover *magazine's annual coverage of the top 100 stories in science describe mathematical discoveries.

- In a summary entitled "Picky Primes," Julie Rehmeyer writes about the discovery by
**Kannan Soundararajan**of Stanford University and**Robert Lemke Oliver**of Tufts University that "prime numbers…aren't quite as random as mathematicians thought…Primes especially dislike following primes with the same final digit as their own." The researchers submitted a paper in March in which they "showed that the pattern holds among the first 400 billion primes and offered an explanation for it." - In a summary entitled "Mathematicians Find the Answers," Rehmeyer discusses elliptic curves and the interest in determining how many of an elliptic curve's solutions it is necessary to know in order to find the remaining solutions. She reports that "a new model published in February found that 21 solutions will almost always suffice, based on a statistical approach that simulates the behavior of elliptic curves."
- In a third summary, "Babylonian Tablets Tracked Jupiter," Jonathan Keats describes the "baffling references to trapezoids" in instructional texts that were written by Babylonian priests about planetary motion. He then explains the realization made by science historian Mathieu Ossendrijver: these trapezoids were actually formed by drawing a graph of Jupiter's "apparent velocity in the sky over 60 days," with velocity represented by a downward-slanting line (with time measured along the horizontal axis, and velocity measured on the vertical axis). "Combined with the chart's vertical [and horizontal] axes, that makes a right-angled trapezoid [whose] area then equals the distance Jupiter has traveled."

See "Top 100 Science Stories, #23, 35, and 48" by Julie Rehmeyer and Jonathon Keats. *Discover*, January/February 2017, pages 31, 41, and 54.

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