## Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In the past week or so, it has happened twice that people have asked me math-related questions for which I felt unqualified. Both times, it ended up being awesome. Here goes.

My housemate: "Hi, Diana. I really need your help. I can't understand the T-statistic that Excel is outputting for my data analysis."

Me: I don't even remember what a T-statistic is. I guess I can look it up online. "Sure, I can take a look at it."

Housemate: "I spent six hours today looking it up online and I still have no idea."

Me: Oh, no. "Okay, show me."

Housemate: "See, it says here 2.58E-10. What could that possibly mean?"

... so we had a little discussion about scientific notation, and he was good to go.

Dinner guest: "So, you basically do knot theory, right?"

Me: Um, no. "Well, I do geometry, and I study surfaces, which is kind of similar."

Guest: "I have a knot theory question for you. You might not know the answer, but I've been wondering this for a long time."

Me: This is highly unexpected. "Okay."

Guest: "Can you explain, in layman's terms, what an unknot is?"

... yes, that I can do. (It's a circle.)

That's all for this time! Diana's wealth of high-level mathematical knowledge, improving the world one question at a time!