Does anyone else? #1
Whenever I get a new math book, I do something I call “cigar sniffing.”
In the same way a cigar fancier (I’m told) enjoys a new cigar by smelling it before smoking it, I like to take a fresh book and flip to the back. In the back, you always find math that looks utterly inscrutable to you. You might be able to pick out some operations or mathematical “words” and “phrases,” but it probably, literally, looks like Greek to you.
To me, this is one of the best parts about learning – the knowledge that all the gibberish in the back will eventually be obvious to me. I suspect this is a big part of the difference between people who enjoy math and people who don’t. When I see a mathematical sentence that looks difficult, I get excited. I think a lot of people see them and think “I could never understand that.”
I do the same thing with mathy science books. For example, when I first got into physics, the big question I wanted to understand was (don’t laugh) “How does a refrigerator work?” And, of course, when I flipped to the back of the book there was a whole section on heat pumps. I deliberately waited to learn that until I had read every previous page. The process took close to a year, but when I finally got to thermo, it was a true delight – physics was my year long cigar.
So, how about you? Do you cigar sniff?
Taking a page from reddit, here’s a behavior I engage in: