Math Seminars

The Grand Rapids Community College Mathematics Department is pleased to announce that it will host its last Mathematics Seminar of 2017-2018 on Tuesday, April 17, 3:00-4:00 PM in 103 Cook.    

Our speaker, former GRCC student and current GRCC tutor Jeff Powers, will discuss the mathematics and science of Archimedes.  For the title and abstract of Jeff’s talk, please see below.

The mathematical and scientific accomplishments of Archimedes are impressive in their scope, depth and detail, often anticipating the work of others by many centuries.  This seminar will be accessible to everyone, regardless of their background in mathematics, and should also be of interest to those who enjoy history, astronomy, physics and science in general.  All are welcome.

Pop and cookies will be served at 2:45 PM.


“Archimedes: The Sand Reckoner

“There are some, King Gelon, who believe that the number of the sand is infinite in multitude…” begins The Sand Reckoner, a 3rd-century BCE manuscript by Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 BCE). Limited by Greek numerals, Archimedes sought a new number system capable of expressing quantities larger than the amount of sand that could fill up the universe. Of course, to do this, he had to first determine the size of the universe. The Sand Reckoner is significant not only for the extraordinary mathematics it contains, but also for its profound insights into the history of science. It cites the earliest account we have of a heliocentric solar system, contains adjustments for solar parallax and the anatomy of a human eye, and is regarded as the world’s first research-expository paper. This seminar showcases Archimedes’ genius via a detailed analysis of The Sand Reckoner, demonstrating his place as the greatest mathematician of antiquity.