From Popular Mechanics
News of a subtle quadratic equation breakthrough has brought algebra forward from the very back of many people’s minds, and algebra is always part of the “when will I ever use this?” rubric people use to complain about math education. Not only do you already use algebra every day—like deciding how many reusable bags to bring into the store, or buying enough tile to cover the entire floor—but some simple equations could make your life better in other ways. Like so:
1. Leaving a Tip
Calculating a tip is still daunting for a lot of people, especially once you add in the discourse between pretax and taxed amounts on the bill. Honestly ... who cares? Instead of moving a decimal point or adding anything, just multiply the total by at least 1.2 (reflecting the current standard of 20 percent minimum, or go up as much as you want), and leave at least that much cash. You can also write the total on the credit card receipt without line-iteming the tip yourself.
2. Shooting a Basketball
Sports are full of inborn algebra opportunities, like choosing your trajectory to avoid a tackle or leveling your baseball swing to cover the most area. But the most common, simple trick to use math to improve your game is shooting a basketball.
During your next pickup game, get as straight directly in front of the basket as you can and shoot with a high arc. This maximizes the effective size of the bucket because you’re dropping the ball in from above, not trying to wedge it at an angle where it’s likely to bounce out. And by positioning in front, you’re doubling the effective size by adding the backboard without having to mentally adjust for it.
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