Posts tagged ‘age’

5 People Born in the 1800’s — and Still Alive!

There’s been a big deal made this week about the five people still alive who were born in the 1800’s, and rightfully so. As I wash down an A1 Peppercorn Burger from Red Robin and a bag of Cheetos with a Dr Pepper, I’m not even sure I’ll make it to 50, let alone 115.

I feel bad for these five women. The following internet math trick claims that it works “for everyone in the whole world,” but it doesn’t work for supercentenarians:

  • Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born.
  • Now add the age you will be this year.
  • The result will be 115 for everyone in the whole world.
Misao Okawa

Misao Okawa

For instance, the oldest living person, Misao Okawa, was born on March 5, 1898. For her, this trick yields 98 + 117 = 215, not 115 as promised.

As it turns out, this trick doesn’t work for anyone born after 2000, either. For instance, my sons were born May 2, 2007, and for them, 07 + 8 = 15, not 115.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Surely, something must be wrong. There’s not really an error floating around the internet, right? But it does appear to be the case.

Luckily, I have a solution for this problem. My modification of the trick is as follows, and then it really will work for everyone in the whole world:

  • Take the year in which you were born.
  • Now add the age you will be this year.
  • The result will be 2015 for everyone in the whole world.

Unsatisfying, sure, but at least it’s correct.

There are lots of reasons to which the very old attribute their longevity. Chief among them is having never taken a statistics course at a community college. But not far behind are eating healthy, exercising regularly, remaining active, having friends, and staying happy. Some simply attribute it to “living right.”

A reporter asked a centenarian, “To what do you attribute your longevity?”

“Simple,” said the man. “I never argue.”

“Oh, surely there must be more to it than that,” said the reporter.

“Well,” said the elderly man. “I guess you’re right.”

It’s not uncommon for reporters to interview centenarians and ask them about their longevity.

A 100-year old man was asked, “To what do you attribute your long life?”

“I’m not quite sure yet,” he replied. “I’m still negotiating with two cereal companies.”

And finally, to celebrate her 100th birthday, Dorothy Carchman was invited on-stage with the cast of Old Jews Telling Jokes. She delivered the following punch line with aplomb:

Becky, who was 90 years old, and her best friend, Dorothy, are driving down the road. Becky said, “Dorothy, that’s the third car you almost hit in five minutes.”

And Dorothy replied, “Wait… I’m driving?”

June 5, 2015 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

Passwords, Age Restrictions, and Computer Silliness

My computer has been a bad boy recently.

First, it told me that my password is going to expire approximately 11 months before I was born

Password ExpirationInterestingly, the folks at disagree with the number of days between March 31, 1970, and the date that screen capture was snapped (March 1, 2015). So much for the truism that, “Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes.” I thought the difference could be explained by excluding the end dates, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, so I’m not sure what ADPassMon is doing. (Then again, I’m not sure why I’m wasting my time checking the calculations of a piece of software whose warning messages suggest the existence of time travel.)

Then, when attempting to register my sons for ski camp, it gave one of the craziest age restrictions I’ve ever seen…

Ski Camp Math

check out the valid ages…

An age of 5.925 corresponds to 5 years, 11 months, 7 days, and 15 hours, which seems quite an arbitrary cut-off for a ski camp. Further, an age of 7.999 years means that kids are eligible for ski camp so long as they are not within 15 hours, 14 minutes, and 24 seconds of their eighth birthday. The framers of the Common Core would be happy with the consideration paid to MP.6: Attend to Precision. Where else have you seen ages expressed to the nearest thousandth? Not even parents of newborns use this many decimal places.

Both of these issues remind me of a childhood friend who wanted to be a writer. He said he wanted to write stuff that would be widely read, cause an emotional reaction, and make people scream and cry. He now writes error messages for Microsoft.

Here’s wishing you an error-free day!

March 2, 2015 at 7:46 am Leave a comment

Another Bad Email Math Puzzle…

It happened again. I received another email with a number trick that makes the ubiquitous claim, “This will work for everyone!” Sadly, it won’t, but it was kind of cool:

Calculate 39 × (your age) × 259.

The email said, “The result will surprise you.”

It didn’t. I suspected what the value of 39 × 259 would be, so I predicted the result. But if you don’t know the value of that product, then maybe you’ll be surprised.

The trick works well enough if you have a double-digit age. But my friend Ferdinand is 107 years old. His result was 1,080,807, and that just looks like a mess. The results for my six-year-old sons were better, albeit rather unsatisfying.

Ha-rumph. So much for the Internet providing mathematical inspiration.

Here are some similarly uninteresting puzzles that I created:

Calculate 7,373 × (your age) × 137.

Calculate 9,091 × (your age) × 11,111.

Calculate 101 × (your age) × 1,000,100,010,001.

To create more puzzles like this, enter factor(101010…10101) into Wolfram Alpha.

For your centenarian friends, try these:

Calculate 101,101 × (your age) × 9,901.

Calculate 3.3 × (your age) × 33.67.

Let’s not forget the little people whose age is still in the single digits:

Calculate 3 × (your age) × 37.

Calculate 41 × (your age) × 271.

And a math joke (or is it?) about age:

I’ve been good with numbers my whole life. When I turned 2, I realized that my age had doubled in one year. This concerned me… at that rate, I’d be 32 in four more years!

And another:

What goes up but never comes down?
Your age.

September 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

You Say It’s Your Birthday…

Well, no, actually it’s not my birthday. And it’s not my friend Jacqui’s birthday, either, but she did just celebrate a milestone with us that she wanted to share. Via email, she announced,

I’ve been alive for two billion seconds, a milestone I passed this morning.

This reminded me of a problem from Steve Leinwand’s book, Accessible Mathematics, in which he tells kids his age as a unitless number, then asks them to identify what units he must be using. Along those lines, here are some questions for you.

  • How old (in years) is my friend Jacqui?
  • What is her date of birth?
  • If I tell you that my age is 22,333,444, what units must I be using? Assuming I’m not telling a fib, of course. And what is my age in years and my date of birth?

This reminds me of two math jokes about birthdays.

Statistics show that those who celebrate the most birthdays live longest.

An algebraist remembers that his wife’s birthday is on the (n – 1)st of the month. Unfortunately, he only remembers this when he is reminded on the nth.

September 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Serious Math, Seriously…

“Patrick, I have to ask you a question,” said Martha. “You have written a book of math jokes… so, how are you so very serious?”

In my 41.82 years, this is the first time that anyone had ever used the word serious to describe anything about me.

Clearly, Martha doesn’t know me.

Then again, perhaps Martha’s perception is based on me doing things like stating my age as a decimal to the nearest hundredths.

Martha and I had only been introduced two days earlier. We were both asked to participate in a quality review session for the Math Snacks project at the Learning Games Lab at NMSU — which, by the way, is a great project; I particularly like the Bad Date video and the Gate video game — so she hadn’t really had much time to get to know me.

Math Snacks Logo

But it made me wonder… do other people think I’m too serious, too?

To correct this false perception, here are some non-serious things I’ve done:

  • I regularly pretend that one button is broken on my calculator, and then have to figure out alternate methods to calculate the value of long expressions. (On one particularly zany day, I pretended that two buttons were broken. Boy, did that ever lead to some crazy misadventures!)
  • One afternoon — when the curtains were not drawn — I danced if no one were watching. The tune that put my backfield in motion? New Math by Tom Lehrer.
  • I once used the phrase “backfield in motion” in a math blog post.
  • In an academic paper submitted to a prestigious journal, I once reported a result to three significant figures, even though I was well aware that only two significant figures were justified.
  • At a bookstore, I paid for a copy of Innumeracy entirely with pennies.
  • On my way to a lecture, I asked a passer-by for directions to the lecture hall. She pointed straight ahead… and I turned around and walked the other way.
  • I regularly wear a hat that reads, “Shut your πhole.”
  • When someone enters the elevator and says, “Seven, please,” I push the 2 and 5 buttons and say, “There ya go. That makes 7.”
  • When a telemarketer asks, “How are you doing?” I usually say, “I’m great, thanks. And I’m glad you called, because — boy! — do I have an exciting offer for you! Do you like to laugh? Do you like math? For $12 — or the cost of just two venti, non-fat, no foam, no water, six pump extra, hot chai tea lattes at Starbucks — you can have a personally signed copy of Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks delivered right to your door! That’s right, just $12! How many copies can I put you down for?”

Gee, I sure hope Martha reads this…

January 13, 2013 at 8:40 am 6 comments

Is It Yours? It’s Not Mayan…

Maya CalendarIt’s December 21. You’re here. I’m here. So much for the prophecy of the Mayan calendar.

So, will someone please call Ms. Angelou and tell her she had it wrong?

Actually, the Mayan calendar never predicted the apocalypse. (Nor was it developed by Maya Angelou. Or Maya Rudolph. or Maya Lin. Or anyone else named Maya.) In truth, one cycle of the Mayan calendar is ending, so a new cycle is about to begin. It’s not a like a time bomb that will explode when the cycle ends. It’s more like the odometer of a car rolling over.

While I can forgive folks who misread the Mayan calendar, I have less patience for folks who misunderstand our calendar.

I recently received an email that stated the following:

This year, December has five Saturdays, five Sundays, and five Mondays. This will only happen once every 824 years.

Oish. Really? I wish that folks who forward this kind of nonsense would, at a minimum, look at a calendar. (At a maximum, I wish they would lose my contact info.)

The good folks at will gladly show you the calendar for December of any year you like. And if you look at the calendar for December in 2018, 2029, 2035, 2040, 2046, 2057, 2063, 2068, 2074, 2085, 2091, 2096, or any of 105 other years within 824 years of today, you’ll see that they all have five Saturdays, five Sundays, and five Mondays. Consequently, it doesn’t seem that December 2012 is terribly special.

The folks at also have a nice explanation of why the math in the email that I received is all wrong (though their article is based on July 2011 which had five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays, and they disprove an argument saying that such an occurrence happens once every 823 years; but, whatever).

I suspect that most folks are unaware that our calendar repeats in a 28‑year cycle. And I’d bet that even fewer realize there is a nice pattern of 6‑11‑6‑5 years when the calendar repeats… assuming you skip those nasty century years, like 1900 and 2100, that fail to include a leap day.

Still, I think most reasonably intelligent humans should recognize that a claim like “only once every 824 years” has to be an exaggeration.

But perhaps that’s the problem: I’m assuming that people who forward emails like this are reasonably intelligent.

Along similar lines, here’s a math trick that I’ve received several times via email:

  1. Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born.
  2. Now add the age you will be this year. (That is, if you’ve already had your birthday this year, add your current age. If you haven’t, add the age you’ll turn on your birthday this year.)
  3. The result will be 112 for everyone in the whole, wide world.

There’s only one problem with this trick: It doesn’t work.

For someone like Besse Cooper, who was born in 1896, the result will be 212.

For someone like my twin five-year-old sons, who were born in 2007, the result will be 12.

In fact, the trick won’t work for anyone born before 1900 or after 2000. Based on data about age distribution, the result will not be 112 for approximately 15% of the U.S. population. The yellow bars in the graph below indicate the ages for which this trick does not work.

Age Distibution U.S.

A better statement of this “trick” might be…

  1. Take the year in which you were born.
  2. Now add the age that you will be this year.
  3. The result will be 2012 for everyone in the whole, wide world.

Completely correct! But not much of a trick anymore, is it?

December 21, 2012 at 7:14 am Leave a comment

Live Longer: Have More Birthdays

Satchel Paige asked, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”

There are lots of quotes about aging. Age is an issue of mind over matter, they say — if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Or, you’re only as old as you feel. But the following is my favorite quote about age:

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

With each passing year, I learn more and more things. But I also learn more about how much I’ll never know.

Know Graph

The number of years on Earth is not an accurate measurement of a life. Many people fill their entire lives with trivial matters.

A graduate student saw a professor working on a proof of the Riemann hypothesis. On the professor’s desk were thousands of papers with various notes about the problem.

“My goodness,” said the student. “Have you been working on this problem your whole life?”

“Not yet,” said the professor.

And what is age, anyway? It’s just a number. For instance, Paul Erdös claimed to be two and a half billion years old.

“When I was a child, the Earth was said to be two billion years old,” he said. “Now scientists say it’s four and a half billion. So that makes me two and a half billion.”

Now in the computer age, it seems that no matter how much we know, machines may know more than we do.

A computer manufacturer unveils a new computer that supposedly knows everything.

A skeptical man asks, “How old is my father?”

The computer thinks, then says, “Your father is 57 years old.”

“See?” says the man. “This is nonsense. My father has been dead for 20 years, and if he were alive, he’d be 71.”

“No,” replies the computer. “Your mother’s husband has been dead for 20 years. Your father is only 57, he’s currently fishing on Lake Michigan, and he just landed a three-pound trout.”

July 3, 2012 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

At 41, I’m Pretty Happy

Happy FaceWonder when you’ll be happiest? You could look for statistical research to find the answer, but remember that 83.74% of all statistics are made up.

As it turns out, a large number of statistics that aren’t made up don’t really provide much help, either.

The Pew Research Center says that men are happiest over age 65 and that we are least happy in our 20’s. Friends Reunited says that people are happiest at age 33. A Gallup poll from 2009 said that men are least happy in their 50’s and late 80’s, but a different Gallup poll from 2008 claimed that people are happiest at 85. This last result agrees with a report from the National Academy of Sciences, which states that people are most depressed at age 44, as shown by the U-bend happiness curve below:

Happiness U Bend

Well, shoot. With all this conflicting information, how will I know when to be happy? Until I get this all sorted out, I’ll just have to keep doing the activities that make people happiest. (Are you really surprised by the first item on that list?)

Jean Jacques Rousseau once defined happiness as follows:

Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion.

But I would define it thus:

Happiness: a sharp pencil and some paper, a good problem, and a quiet place with some time to think.

It has been said that happiness adds and multiplies, as we divide it with others. But let’s not forget how subtraction can bring happiness, too…

Some people bring happiness wherever they go. But you? You bring happiness whenever you go.

[Update, 4/13/12: When I checked into a Comfort Inn hotel last night, I was given a bag with fresh cookies. On the outside it said:

Happiness is a warm chocolate chip cookie.

That might be the best definition yet!]

April 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm 1 comment

About MJ4MF

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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Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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