Being comfortable while doing math

  • #1
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Doing math for any extended period is very stressful on the neck. What do you guys do or suggest to combat this? I was thinking that maybe buying a book stand and using it to write while standing upright might take off some of the discomfort, but I haven't found one that would do very well.
 

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  • #2
strangerep
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Doing math for any extended period is very stressful on the neck. What do you guys do or suggest to combat this? I was thinking that maybe buying a book stand and using it to write while standing upright might take off some of the discomfort, but I haven't found one that would do very well.
I do very little math on paper anymore -- I do almost everything in latex on-screen. (That also banishes many silly copying errors from line to line, since I can cut-and-paste, then modify the pasted line.)
 
  • #3
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Whiteboard.
 
  • #4
Evo
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I saw a cool video of Feynman recently, where he has a bowling ball on a string and swings it out over the students and stands there without flinching as it swings back towards his face and stops just short of hitting him. He has a cool blackboard with two sections that slide over each other so he can quickly hide or expose what he has written.
 
  • #6
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Walter Lewin's cooler than Feynman...
sF-m3XZKvLI[/youtube] That's how you do physics... (Physics works I am telling ya!)
 
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  • #7
Evo
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Feynman had the ball swing out over the student's heads.
 
  • #8
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Feynman had the ball swing out over the student's heads.
Lewin had Lewin swing in the class.
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/images/lewin1.jpg
^OP is not advised to do this to treat neck pain.
 
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  • #9
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I do very little math on paper anymore -- I do almost everything in latex on-screen. (That also banishes many silly copying errors from line to line, since I can cut-and-paste, then modify the pasted line.)
I don't see how that's comfortable.
I have to restart too often when doing proofs etc.

My method is using a clipboard, sit tilted back in my desk chair (it's a rather good one) with my feet on the heater or whatever. It is a kind of relaxed position to sit in. Problem is after diner when my stomach is working I sometimes fall asleep.
 
  • #10
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I do very little math on paper anymore -- I do almost everything in latex on-screen. (That also banishes many silly copying errors from line to line, since I can cut-and-paste, then modify the pasted line.)
What math do you use it for? I can imagine it would be inefficient if it is a subject where you like to draw graphs and diagrams like in my PDE class. But higher up where it gets more abstract I can see it being helpful.

Whiteboard.
But you have to erase the information afterwards, what is your method of saving the information?

I don't see how that's comfortable.
I have to restart too often when doing proofs etc.

My method is using a clipboard, sit tilted back in my desk chair (it's a rather good one) with my feet on the heater or whatever. It is a kind of relaxed position to sit in. Problem is after diner when my stomach is working I sometimes fall asleep.
That sounds like a relaxed position. If you are tilting your desk chair back then what is your clipboard resting on?
 
  • #11
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But you have to erase the information afterwards, what is your method of saving the information?
Take a picture. Not my method, but I know it works well if you like whiteboards.
 
  • #12
BobG
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I saw a cool video of Feynman recently, where he has a bowling ball on a string and swings it out over the students and stands there without flinching as it swings back towards his face and stops just short of hitting him.
And this is relevant because he solves at least one math problem in his head during the time it takes the bowling ball to swing out over the students and back to within inches of his face, right?

I agree, that would certainly be a comfortable way to do math. (And given Feynman's ability to do calculations in his head, not totally unrealistic.)

Or, you could do like Rene DesCartes and invent a Cartesian system of vector notation while lying in bed and watching a fly flit about the corner of the ceiling above his bed.
 
  • #13
SteamKing
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Doing math for any extended period is very stressful on the neck. What do you guys do or suggest to combat this? I was thinking that maybe buying a book stand and using it to write while standing upright might take off some of the discomfort, but I haven't found one that would do very well.
Why is doing math so stressful on your neck? Is it as stressful on your neck doing any other activities? Do you take any breaks? Stand up, stretch your legs, etc...?
 
  • #14
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Take a picture. Not my method, but I know it works well if you like whiteboards.
Why is doing math so stressful on your neck? Is it as stressful on your neck doing any other activities? Do you take any breaks? Stand up, stretch your legs, etc...?
Because I tend to tilt my neck down and lean forward while I am doing my work. I've been trying harder to get over that habit and I am making good progress. When I have to go get a drink, food, use the bathroom, want a break, or I am finished. I don't get up to stretch though. I do like to take a nice break by working out (gym a block away).
 
  • #15
strangerep
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I don't see how that's comfortable.
I have to restart too often when doing proofs etc.
I have to restart sometimes too, or go back and revise things extensively. So what? I either delete back to the first error, or else start a new version in case I decide to go back to the earlier version. It's really quite easy after Latex has become 2nd nature.

Maybe my screen setup is different from yours. (I have a very large screen, elevated high enough so that I'm looking at it horizontally rather than down at an angle.)

My method is using a clipboard, sit tilted back in my desk chair (it's a rather good one) with my feet on the heater or whatever.
I sit like that too (though I don't need a heater). Actually, reclining is not good long-term, since blood flow to the lower legs can be restricted. So I try to sit properly upright until I forget...

It is a kind of relaxed position to sit in. Problem is after diner when my stomach is working I sometimes fall asleep.
Post-prandial somnolence. I know it well. :frown:
 
  • #16
strangerep
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What math do you use it for? I can imagine it would be inefficient if it is a subject where you like to draw graphs and diagrams like in my PDE class. But higher up where it gets more abstract I can see it being helpful.
Yes -- I'm not talking about diagrams. I hardly ever need them in my interests. When I do, then yes, I revert to paper-on-desk temporarily.
 
  • #17
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Nothing beats pen and paper.
 
  • #18
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That sounds like a relaxed position. If you are tilting your desk chair back then what is your clipboard resting on?
Just on my legs. That's why I use the clipboard, to have a hard, portable surface for writing.

@strangerep
I only have a 17 inch notebook. It is on an elevated stand so that's comparable.
My problem might be that I've never really learnt how to type.
Also my latex isn't 100%.

About the heater, it is more or less to keep me in that position.
 
  • #19
strangerep
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Nothing beats pen and paper.
Hmm. Have you done really long and complicated solutions or calculations where there's a significant probability of introducing errors merely by mis-copying from one line to the next? I almost gave up on attempting big calculations in advanced field theory because of that. :blushing:

JorisL said:
My problem might be that I've never really learnt how to type.
I never learned (formally) how to type. That doesn't matter -- just keep practicing...

Also my latex isn't 100%.
My latex skill only grew gradually, by accumulation and asking questions.
 
  • #20
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Whiteboard.
I think a blackboard is far superior to a whiteboard :smile:

I hate whiteboards :mad:

But, I defiantly recommend a blackboard,
I loved doing my math on a blackboard

Then, you can just take a picture of the board, if you need to save it for later
 
  • #21
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I think a blackboard is far superior to a whiteboard :smile:

I hate whiteboards :mad:

But, I defiantly recommend a blackboard,
I loved doing my math on a blackboard
Then you are definitely free to defiantly clean up the chalk dust.
 
  • #23
Dembadon
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Then you are definitely free to defiantly clean up the chalk dust.
Wouldn't not cleaning up the chalk dust be more defiant? :biggrin:
 
  • #24
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Wouldn't not cleaning up the chalk dust be more defiant? :biggrin:
Then after a while, the blackboard becomes a white_board.

Sorry, could not resist :D.
 
  • #25
DataGG
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I heard using one of these balls is comfortable for your back.. I haven't tried it yet, but I might buy one next week or so.
 

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