Mathematically Unconscious

February 11, 2016 at 10:46 pm 3 comments

Both of my sons sleepwalk. At least once a week, one of them will wake up an hour after bedtime, walk down the stairs, and start speaking gibberish. They have no idea what they’re saying, because they aren’t awake — even though their eyes are open. (Freaky!)

During a recent somnambulation, Alex stood at the top of the stairs. He appeared frustrated. Finally, he said:

I just need to find the numbers. It shouldn’t take long.

As you might well imagine, it’s a little scary to have your son walking and talking while asleep. The only solace is that his subconscious thoughts are about math.

I don’t sleepwalk. But I recently had a dream in which I attended a cocktail party and asked the other attendees a most unusual question:

Time Express Answer

I suspect that my 7 years as an editor and 4 years as a question writer for MathCounts are to blame, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

I vividly remember a dream I had in college, on the night prior to my Linear Algebra midterm. Feeling unprepared for the exam, my nightmare consisted of two brackets pinching my head like a vice, while numbers floated past.

Lineart Algebra Nightmare

I awoke in a cold sweat at 5 a.m., and proceeded to a study carrel for more test prep.

I was happy to learn that other folks dream about math, too. While subscribed to a listserve for former instructors of the Center for Talented Youth, I received a message from Mark Jason Dominus that read, “I dreamt of the following problem while I was sleeping last night. When I woke up, I convinced myself that it was a good problem, so I’ve decided to share it.”

The volume of a 3 × 3 × 3 cube is 27 cubic units, and the volume of a 2 × 2 × 1 rectangular prism is 4 cubic units. Theoretically, six prisms should be able to fit inside the cube, with three cubic units empty. But can you arrange six 2 × 2 × 1 prisms so they fit inside a 3 × 3 × 3 cube?

2 x 2 x 1 Prism

Good luck, and sweet dreams!

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , .

4 Folds, 40 Theorems, and Chinese New Year Angle of Opportunity

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. puntomaupunto  |  February 12, 2016 at 8:00 am

    They should be cuboids, or it you prefer rectangular parallelepipeds: “prisms” is too generic.

    (I spent a lot of time searching for a proof before finding the solution… I am angry at me)

    Reply
    • 2. venneblock  |  February 12, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Sorry that you’re mad at yourself. Better than you being mad at me, though.🙂

      I’ve adjusted the wording per your suggestion. Thanks!

      Reply
  • 3. Quizzino della domenica: il cubo a pezzi | Notiziole di .mau.  |  February 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    […] (un aiutino lo trovate sul mio sito, alla pagina http://xmau.com/quizzini/p194.html; la risposta verrà postata lì il prossimo mercoledì. Problema di Mark Jason Dominus) […]

    Reply

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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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