Every year I, as much of a Humanities person as the year before, show up to Splash and take a bunch of STEM classes. This year, intro to LaTeX joined the mix. I have next to no coding experience, and I’ve honestly forgotten what a Boolean is by now. I also have no idea what an integral is. I will not be handing in sheets upon sheets of dazzling latex-coded homework, for alas, I am in pre-calculus. So why, Yassie, why did you take this class if you’re not going to use LaTeX for what it was made for, pretty PSETs? I strolled into his class eager to leave with some knowledge about how to make math, and text in general, prettier, though this is too vague an explanation to fully capture my current uses for LaTeX. Let me explain.
I sat in class as my teacher put this scary equation on the board. ”Code it,” he said. “Okay,” we said and coded. Pictured at the bottom of Fig. 1 is this equation, hand-coded by yours truly. But what’s that on the top half? Art. While Ascii art has its limits, LaTeX art has none. The sky’s the limit. Code some bees.
Upon returning home, I decided that I should find some practical use for LaTeX. Biology lab reports were the way to go. I said goodbye to the monstrosities that are -Km*(V/[S])+VMax and hello to a nice equation. Gone are the days of excessive parentheses and ^-1. Do not fear, LaTeX is here! I look forward to temporarily decreasing the entropy of the universe in my lab reports as it increases in my peers’.
What is phosphofructokinase? As I and the rest of my biology class discovered a few weeks ago, it’s an enzyme that phosphorylates a fructose 6-phosphate in glycolysis. It has since become a meme. We fear no man, but we fear phosphofructokinase. With the help of LaTeX, I can turn phosphofructokinase into a textual form that better instills fear. On the other hand, LaTeX can also make smiley faces with $\smiley$.
Near the end of the class, one of my teachers told us about the realhats package. Instead of a chapeau or circumflex accent, ^, LaTeX gives a letter an actual hat. I no longer take French, but willingly peered into the depths of my brain to unveil some words with chapeaus. This task was well worth the reward.
As my knowledge of LaTeX (and math and biology) continues to expand, I look forward to using LaTeX for more practical things. For now, I indulge in hats and dynamic art forms.
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2 thoughts on “LaTeX applications for the STEM-uninclined”
Wow that was a great article. I love the emphasis on real fun rather than pretending that equations that you don’t understand are interesting and important.
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