Archive for March 27, 2011

Plainly Stated

One of my favorite applets at Illuminations is the State Data Map, which allowed me to create the following map depicting the number of U.S. Presidents born in each state:

Note that the states are color‑coded. Those states in which the greatest number of Presidents were born are the darkest shade of red; those in which no Presidents were born are white. In addition to allowing you to enter data, there are also pre‑loaded data sets. My favorite is the “Letters in State Name” set, from which I concocted the following trivia questions:

  • Which state names have the most letters?
  • Which state names have the fewest letters?

Feel free to think about it a few seconds before reading the next paragraph.

As it turns out, there are three states whose names contain 13 letters, and there are three states whose names have 4 letters. For what it’s worth, the mean number of letters is 8.24, and the median is 8.

My sons have a collection of foam letters for the bath tub. When the letters get wet, they stick to the side of the tub, and Alex and Eli love to use the letters to spell the names of states. Tonight, Eli spelled WYOMING. We then played a game where I’d give them the name of a state, and they’d try to spell it — but they couldn’t spell many of the state names because the set contains only one copy of each letter of the alphabet. This led to the following trivia question: 

  • Which states have names that can be spelled with bath tub letters, i.e., the state name contains no repeated letters?

Feel free to cogitate on that a while, too, then read on.

There are nine states with no repeated letters in their names. (Don’t feel bad if you weren’t able to identify all of them. I had to look at a map.)

Finally, here is a state trivia question a pro pos of absolutely nothing. For each pair of states below, identify the only state that borders both of them. (Each question has a unique answer.)

  1. North Carolina, South Carolina
  2. South Dakota, Illinois
  3. New Mexico, Missouri
  4. Oregon, Wyoming
  5. Missouri, West Virginia
  6. Wisconsin, Ohio

For the answers to all questions, check a map.

March 27, 2011 at 11:43 pm 2 comments


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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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