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### Math on Africa

```
Date: 01/03/97 at 19:19:35
From: Charles Napier
Subject: Math on Africa

We're doing an interdisciplinary unit on Africa.  My part is to do
something about math that would be educational as well as fun for the
cenapier@kih.net

Charlie Napier
```

```
Date: 01/04/97 at 01:25:49
From: Doctor Mike
Subject: Re: Math on Africa

Hello Mr. Napier,

My ideas of what is interesting may be a bit far out, but here goes.

1. We now know that any flat map can be colored with 4 colors.  Get
an absolutely current map of Africa, and also a mid-century map
of Africa where what's now Zaire was still the Belgian Congo, etc.
See what different coloring strategies are needed to color these
different maps with at most 4 colors (no 2 countries that touch
at all can be colored with the same color).

2. Get a printed copy of Alex Haley's "Roots" and look at the part
where the genealogy is traced back to Kunte Kinte by listening
to the African "aural historian".  Count the generations that
passed, and figure out how many ancestors there must have been.

3. For something completely different, research applications of
mathematics in ancient Egypt.  There must be some interesting
engineering applications for building the pyramids.  Also, I've
heard that because the Nile flooded each year, the farmers had
to use some geometrical applications to survey boundaries that
the floods washed away.

4. Find stamps from some African country that has existed throughout
the 20th century (a Public Library might have Scott's Stamp
collecting catalog) and find out what mailing a first class letter
cost at different times during the century. Do this for the USA
for comparison. Then graph the rate vs. the 19xx year to show a
measure of inflation during the century.

5. Figure out what percent of the area of Africa is above/below the
equator. Compare with South America.

6. List all the countries of Africa in order of area. List all the
countries of Africa in order of populations. Do any countries
occupy the same position on both list?

I can't think of any others now, but this is a start.  Good luck.

-Doctor Mike,  The Math Forum
Check out our web site!  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
```
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Elementary Math History/Biography
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