Just returned from a week in the Magic Kingdom, where I learned a lot. Like this tidbit:
A recent government study just confirmed that six of seven dwarves is not Happy.
That’s so good, it deserves a graphic:
I also learned that relativity is a novel concept for kids who are 6 years old. When asked how fast we were traveling on The Barnstormer junior roller coaster, one of my sons replied, “It felt like we were going 100 mph!” The other said it only felt like 50 mph. When asked how fast we were traveling in the airplane on our ride back to Virginia, one son suggested 10 mph, the other suggested 20 mph.
Depressingly, the ratio of bottles of Coke to bottles of water consumed at Disney is almost 6 to 1. According to a Walt Disney World fact sheet, tourists to Disney consume 75 million bottles of Coke and 13 million bottles of water annually. My sincere hope is that most folks use refillable water bottles, which would explain the discrepancy in sales.
And finally a math question.
The fact sheet states that the Earffel Tower, which is the water tower at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, would wear a hat size of 342-3/4, although another reference says that the hat size would be 342-3/8. What is the approximate radius of the Earffel Tower?
When my wife gave birth to our sons, Alex and Eli, I was so excited that I called the minister immediately. “Reverend,” I said, “Nadine just gave birth to twin boys!”
“That’s fantastic!” he replied. “Why don’t you bring ‘em down to the church on Sunday, and we’ll baptize ‘em.”
“How ’bout we just baptize one,” I said. “Let’s keep the other as a control.”
It can be difficult to tell that my sons are identical twins. The picture below, for instance, is a red herring — though they’re identical, Alex is using a TI Math Explorer purely for computation, while Eli clearly prefers the graphing capabilities of a TI‑73.
Prior to their birth, I tried to imagine mathematical names. There are, of course, many pedantic possibilities…
- Area and Perimeter (Ari and Peri, for short)
- Max and Min
- Vector and Scalar
- Radius and Diameter
- Abscissa and Ordinate
- Sine and Cosine
But I’m not one to settle for low-hanging fruit. I pushed myself to find better options.
- If and Only If
- Radius and Apothem
- Vector and Sector
- Perp and Dicular
- Johann and Jakob
- Catenary and Parabola (Cat and Perry, for short)
- Lucas Cameron Maximilian and Gregory Caliban Farquhar (aka, LCM and GCF)
Today, my perfect sons turn the perfect age — six! And though I wasn’t able to convince my wife that Epsilon and Delta would have been perfect names, I have to admit that Alex and Eli suit them just fine.
What are your suggestions for mathy twin names?
The median age of the Reader’s Digest audience is 53.5, and 60% of their audience is female. So if I admitted to you that I’m a regular reader of the magazine, it’d be reasonable for you to assume that I’m an elderly woman.
In the “Laughter, the Best Medicine” column in the April issue of Reader’s Digest, two jokes were mathy. In case you missed them…
People with math anxiety actually feel pain when doing arithmetic, according to a study. The Week asked its readers to name this condition:
- Percentile Dysfunction
- Add Nauseum
According to a global study, American kids are way behind Asian kids in math and science. But American kids are ahead in buying stuff made by Asian kids. – Conan O’Brien
And in the “Quotable Quotes” column was a relevant quote worth sharing…
The moment you think of a joke is the best moment. – Judd Apatow
Jim Rubillo has been a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematic (NCTM) for more than 1.4 billion seconds. For his four decades of service to improve mathematics education, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 NCTM Annual Meeting.
Jim was the Executive Director of NCTM from 2001 to 2009, and he was my supervisor for the last five of those years. But he was more than just my boss — he was also a mentor, friend, and problem-solving companion. So when Ann Lawrence, chair of the Mathematics Education Trust, called to ask me to prepare a tribute video for Jim’s award ceremony, I was honored by the request.
I didn’t want to prepare a talking head video — I have a face for radio — yet I don’t have access to elaborate film equipment. Consequently, I opted to create a PowerPoint presentation with narration, which I then uploaded to authorSTREAM. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.
Prior to its showing at the awards ceremony, Ann Lawrence mentioned that the tribute video had been created by me. Upon hearing this, Jim murmured, “Oh, no…” (Truth be told, I think I was rather kind.)
One of the many reasons that I loved working with Jim is that he always had a good math problem at the ready. He shared more problems with me than I can count, but here are two of my favorites:
- What percent of the numbers in Pascal’s Triangle are even?
- Many years ago, it was believed that the Earth was the center of the cosmos. This was a reasonable hypothesis — it appears that the Sun rotates around the Earth. But if Earth were the center of the solar system (instead of the Sun), and if Mars rotated about the Earth, what would it have appeared that the path of Mars was?
Both of these problems have non-obvious answers, which is a trademark of the problems that Jim likes to share. Jim often looks at things with a unique perspective, and he willingly talks math with anyone who’s willing to listen. Consequently, Jim was an exceptional choice for this award, and I’m proud to call this lifetime achiever my friend.
The following message appeared in my spam folder, submitted in response to a post about the math of cousins:
Why do guitarists tell so many one-liners?
So the rest of the band can understand them.
I unspammed the message. Although it isn’t mathy and has absolutely no relevance to the post, who am I to censor humor?
Further, it reminded me of a collection of drummer jokes. Of course, they aren’t mathy, either, but most are pretty funny, and many of them can be made mathematical by replacing drummer with grad student, math professor, or something similar. So, here you go: A bunch of drummer jokes modified to be mathematical, with the original words appearing in parentheses.
(And if you find the jokes just aren’t funny, try this drum sound.)
A son tells his mother, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to go to graduate school (be a drummer).”
The mom scoffs and says, “Sorry, I don’t think you can do both.”
What’s the difference between a grad student (drummer) and a savings bond?
One will mature and make money.
How do you tell if a grad student’s desk (the stage) is level?
The grad student (drummer) is drooling from both sides of his mouth.
What do you call a grad student (drummer) that breaks up with his girlfriend?
How do you get a grad student (drummer) off of your porch?
Pay him for the pizza.
How many mathematicians (drummers) does it take to change a lightbulb?
Five: One to screw the bulb in, and four to talk about how much better Andrew Wiles (Neil Peart) could’ve done it.
How many grad students (drummers) does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but only after asking, “Why?”
A mathematician (drummer) died and went to heaven. He was waiting outside the Pearly Gates when he heard the most incredible exposition about mathematics (drumming). He immediately recognized the topic (playing) and asked St. Peter if Pierre Fermat (Buddy Rich) was giving the lecture (playing the drums). St. Peter responded, “No, that’s God. He just thinks he’s Fermat (Buddy Rich).”
What do you call a grad student (drummer) with half a brain?
What does a statistician (drummer) use for contraception?
How is a bad math pun (drum solo) like a sneeze?
You know it’s coming, but there’s nothing you can do about it.
What do you call someone who hangs around with mathematicians (musicians)?
A grad student (drummer).
What did the grad student (drummer) get on his problem set (IQ test)?
Did you hear about the math professor (bass player) who locked his keys in his car?
He had to break the window to get his grad assistant (drummer) out!
I asked my grad assistant (a drummer) to spell Mississippi.
He said, “The river or the state?”
What do you call a dozen adjuncts (drummers) at the bottom of the sea?
A good start!
How many grad students (drummers) does it take to wallpaper a room?
Three, but you have to slice them really thin!
What should you call a grad student (drummer)?
It doesn’t matter. It’s not like they’ll listen.
What do grad students (drummers) and a mosquitoes have in common?
They both suck!
Given my surname, I suppose it was predestined that I’d like Venn diagrams. But nowadays, it seems that everyone likes them, especially the humorous kind. You can find a whole whack of them at www.thisinindexed.com, or just do a Google search for funny Venn diagrams.
Earlier this spring, Reader’s Digest featured 6 Questionable Relationships Stuffed Into Venn Diagrams. I particularly enjoyed this one:
The lottery is a tax on the mathematically challenged.
Though perhaps not as succinct, W. V. O. Quine was more eloquent in describing the phenomenon:
We can applaud the state lottery as a public subsidy of intelligence, for it yields public income that is calculated to lighten the tax burden of us prudent abstainers at the expense of the benighted masses of wishful thinkers.
Not wanting to be left out of all this fun, I decided that I should attempt to create a humorous Venn diagram. How’d I do?
Got a bead of sweat running down your forehead as you frantically race to complete your 1040? Here are a few math finance jokes to relieve the stress.
Financial Trigonometry: If someone asks you to cosine, don’t sine! Instead, go off on a tangent! That’ll save you $40,000!
Financial Algebra: My wife leaves Houston at 8:39 a.m. on a plane bound for Albuquerque. She arrives at 9:42 a.m. and spends the next three days at a hotel with my best man. If she then decides to leave me for him, how long will it take me to pay off the Visa bill from this trip of infidelity, assuming an annual percentage rate of 18.5%?
Financial Formula: Easiest way to determine your cost of living? Take your income, then add 10%.
And just in case you needed another reason to never trust a financial mathematician…
A pure mathematician asks, “Would $30,000 be too much?”
An applied mathematician asks, “How about $60,000?”
And a financial mathematician says, “How about $300,000? That’d be $135,000 for me, $135,000 for you, and $30,000 for a pure mathematician to do the work.”