It’s a Square World For Maths Geeks

See also: In Defense of Math: 7 Reasons Numbers Rule

“What’s the cubed route of 125?” Leon Remphry asked Education Secretary Morgan on Sky News.

“I think it’s probably better that politicians don’t do maths or spelling on air,” she responded.

Not happy to leave it there, Remphry asked again, saying that he had to press her for the answer. But Morgan gave the same response.

For anyone left wondering about the answer, Remphry revealed the cubed route of 125 is 5. The cubed root of a number is a value that when multiplied three times, gives that number so in this case it’s 5 x 5 x 5.

Some geek replied:

Hagrinas Mivali 3 hours ago

It’s not an arbitrarily difficult question. It’s an elementary school question, and is no different from asking Dan Quayle how to spell potato. Even if she didn’t get it the first time around, she should have gotten it when pressed. It doesn’t require deep thought.

Square roots and cube roots are types of roots. If a root is cubed (assuming it was a cube root in the first place) you will end up with your original number. So the cubed root would be 125 assuming that the root is 5, and it’s cubed. I thought he said “cube root” but the smart ass answer to “cubed root” would be even easier.

It’s not a matter of being able to solve a problem but of knowing that by definition, she needs to find n where n times n times n = 125. It’s like a person not knowing that the square root of 25 is 5, or that if I give you five quarters, you will have 1.25.

If this woman is the Minister of Education, then she is in charge of determining the curriculum for schools. She should at least know what she is asking the kids to do. It’s not as if he asked her a calculus problem that needed a half sheet of paper to work out. In that case, I could excuse her for not remembering the formulas.

That’s all very well but my answer would have been “Who cares?” Not everybody is a maths geek, its nearly fifty years since I left school and I have never had to work out the cube root of anything despite my working in computers for thirty years.

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