Q&A #4927

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Pre-calculus

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From: Loyd <loydlin@aol.com>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2005013114:19:32
Subject: Re: Re: Re: jobs on imaginary numbers

Electrical Engineers are not the only ones who use imaginary numbers. 
Anyone who uses differential equations (all engineers and physicists)
will use imaginary numbers at times.  

Any mechanical system that vibrates and produces wave motion requires
the knowledge of imaginary numbers.  So, often in text books, a
circuit with resistance, inductance and capacitance is compared to a
mass oscillating on a spring.  The mass is equivalent to inductance
and If I remember right, the stiffness of the spring corresponds with
capacitance.  Some professors teach the mechanical system first and
then teach the more abstract electrical circuit later.  

So, bridges, like galloping gerty in the Tacoma Narrows that went down
about 50 years or so ago, can often set up oscillations that cause
disaster.  So, it would seem that bridge designers should have at
least a rudimentary knowledge of imaginary numbers.

Remember if you don't learn it, you will not use it.  Understanding
it, will open up lots of doors for you because not many people ever
really understand this properly.  People that understand, will command
the highest salaries.  


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