## Archive for February, 2014

### If I Had a Million Dollars…

The Daily Prompt at the Daily Post @ WordPress for December 28 gave the following hypothetical situation:

You’ve just won $1 billion dollars in the local lottery. You do not have to pay tax on your winnings. How will you spend the money?

I would have written about this sooner, but I’ve been too busy (a) fantasizing about how I’d spend that kind of money, (b) sending emails to the Daily Post telling them that they needn’t be so greedy; a million dollars would be plenty, and (c) sending more emails to the Daily Post telling them that the lottery is a tax on the mathematically challenged, that it’s insane to think that such a lottery would have no tax implications, that no lottery has ever had a billion-dollar prize, and that promulgating the possibility of winning such an unlikely sum only gives hope to those who should be putting their money in a savings account instead.

But I digress.

Part of me thinks I’d heed the advice of the Barenaked Ladies…

If I had a million dollars

I’d buy you some art

A Picasso or a Garfunkel

But I’m not sure that a million dollars would be enough to afford a painting by the world’s greatest cubist or to purchase the poet who rode Paul Simon’s coattails to musical fame, so instead I’d commission a mathematical sculpture by Zach Abel. Or maybe I’d just buy binder clips and construct some sculptures myself — at $3.68 per dozen, I could afford enough binder clips to make 746,268 copies of *Stressful*:

Part of me thinks I’d just withdraw the money in $1 bills from the bank. But how would I get it home? Do you have any idea how much that would weigh? Take some time to figure it out… the result will surprise you. The FAQ at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving might be helpful, as might this picture of a million dollars, although it’s $100 bills, not singles:

And here’s a great problem about $1,000,000, which I learned from Martin Gardner:

On January 1, I deposited $

xin a bank account. On January 2, I deposited $yin the same account. Every day thereafter, I deposited an amount equal to the sum of the previous two days’ deposits. On January 20, I deposited exactly $1,000,000. How much did I deposit on January 1?

### Specialized Language of Mathematics

The *High School Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics* says that materials aligned with CCSSM should emphasize mathematical reasoning by “explicitly attending to the specialized language of mathematics.”

I am greatly concerned by this, as there is much confusion about many of the most important words in mathematics.

Words like *dodecagon*…

…or *coordinate axes*…

…or *hypotenuse*…

…or *quartiles*…

…or *spheroid*…

The Common Core mathematics glossary contains 52 terms, yet none of the five listed above are on that list. I certainly hope the glossary committee will consider adding some of them.

### Math Travel Riddle

My wife has been traveling a lot recently. She’s been to Savannah, Miami, San Antonio, and Amsterdam — all in the past month. Reminds me of a riddle.

What travels around the world but always stays in a corner?

A stamp.

She had a strange encounter at one of the airports.

One of her flights was cancelled, and many inconvenienced passengers were being rebooked by just one agent. An angry passenger pushed to the front and said, “I have to be on the next flight, and I have to fly first class!”

“I’m sorry,” said the agent. “You’ll have to get in line and wait your turn.”

“Do you know who I am?” the man asked.

The agent grabbed the microphone and said, “Attention, ladies and gentleman, there’s a passenger here who doesn’t know who he is. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 43.”

The man glared at the agent and shouted, “F**k you!”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the agent replied. “You’ll have to wait in line for that, too.”

While talking about her trips, the boys were intrigued that she would get home just 3 hours after leaving the Netherlands: her flight departed Amsterdam at 11 a.m. and arrived in Washington, DC, at 2 p.m.

That leads me to your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it:

Describe a trip in which you arrive to your destination at the same time you left.

I think that’s a great Common Core classroom problem, because there is an unlimited number of possible solutions. Many solutions are correct — as long as students are asked to justify their answer, of course.

The following travel joke is your reward for solving that challenge. (You did solve it, didn’t you?)

A professor and a grad student were returning to New York from a conference in Puerto Rico. But fog forced the plane to divert to Washington, DC. As the grad student passed the cockpit, he complained to the pilot, “A little bit of fog never stopped a train from getting to its destination.”

“That’s right, John,” said the professor to the student. “And the next time you want to go from New York to San Juan, you should definitely take the train.”