Saturday, December 16, 2006

Paging Dr. Calculus

Once again I am doing my part to reach out to the pre-health students who will partially populate my calculus class in the spring. They tell me again and again that they don't need to know calculus so I should just leave them alone and give them good grades so that they won't be weeded out.

Well, yesterday I was at the doctor's office about a skin infection, and she prescribed me an antibiotic cream. Neurotic that I am, I read the entire patient labeling. The cream's label went on and on about how, unlike a tablet, it acted locally and was able to kill the bad bacteria without as much of the antibiotic being absorbed into the body. In order to make this claim, it kept referring to a measure called "AUC" -- the Area Under the Curve.

Anyone know more about this measure? I'd like to give my students some real-world word problems to show them that calculus serves purposes other than weeding out the weak.