Jennifer Ouellette was an English major who long “avoided all math,” as she put it. Today, the science writer and author of The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse recalled asking her math teacher what every student wants to know: why does math matter in every day life? “He gave the usual stock answers,” she said. “But when you start to see where calculus is in the real world, that’s when you start to see where it’s useful.” Ouellette dropped by Zocalo’s offices to chat about how calculus can help you win in Vegas, anticipate the next dip or turn of a roller coaster, and why we should all aim for mathematical literacy to give us a richer view of the world around us.
*Photo courtesy Joe Penniston.