Posts tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Thanksgiving Math Quiz

Five questions to get you geared up for Turkey Day.

Which weighs more?

  1. The weight of turkey that Americans will eat on Thanksgiving.
  2. The combined weight of the entire population of Chicago.

What percent of turkeys raised each year are eaten by Americans?

  1. About 90%.
  2. About 50%.

How close are humans to being pumpkins?

  1. About 75% genetically identical.
  2. About 90% genetically identical.

How often is Thanksgiving celebrated on the last Thursday in November?

  1. On average, 5/7 of the time.
  2. Always.

At your Thanksgiving dinner feast, you’ve placed a name tent at each plate for yourself and nine guests. But your Uncle Huey, who’s too old to give a damn, has chosen his seat at random. Your other guests decide that they’ll come to the table and sit in the proper seat if no one is sitting there yet; if the seat with that person’s name tent is occupied, however, he’ll choose a different seat at random. As the host, you’ll be the last to sit. What’s the probability that you’ll get your assigned seat?

  1. 50%
  2. 10%

I’ll place a spoiler in the Comments on Thanksgiving Day.

November 24, 2014 at 11:00 am 5 comments

The Math of Thanksgivukkah

Oish. Enough already.

I know it’s rare that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide. But if one more person tells me that it’ll be another 70,000 years before this happens again, I’m gonna scream.

This may be the single dumbest statistic I’ve ever heard. Here’s why.

Consider some of the reasons that cause Hanukkah and Thanksgiving to coincide this year.

  • Jews rely on the Shmuelian calendar for religious holidays, which is why Hanukkah seems to vary so greatly from year to year. It wouldn’t appear to vary quite so much if you followed the Shmuelian calendar, but if you’re like most of the world, you rely on the Gregorian calendar. (On the Shmuelian calendar, by contrast, it would seem that Thanksgiving varies a lot from year to year. For instance, Thanksgiving this year occurs on 25 Kislev, next year on 5 Kislev, in 2015 on 14 Kislev, and in 2016 on 23 Cheshvan.)
  • The Shmuelian calendar has a 19-year cycle, while the Gregorian calendar has a (roughly) 7-year cycle. So you might expect that the calendars would coincide about every 133 years. And they sort of do. However, the last time that the first day of Hanukkah fell on November 28 was in 1861, two years before Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an official U.S. holiday in 1863.
  • One year on Earth is approximately 365.25 days — but not exactly. In fact, it’s closer to 365.2422 days. That slight difference is about 11 minutes. Not a big deal, really, but over 400 years, the calendar would incur a discrepancy of about three days. That’s why Pope Gregory, in 1582, decreed that years divisible by 100 but not divisible by 400 would not be leap years. But Rav Shmuel, who organized his calendar in the first century, didn’t have access to such specific solar measurements, so the Shmuelian calendar does not make similar accommodations.

Put all that together and — voila! — an amazing coincidence.

Because the Shmuelian calendar gains one day on the Gregorian calendar every 165 years or so — see the third bullet point above — it’ll be tens of thousands of years before they coincide again.

But here’s the thing. It’ll never happen. Not a chance.

There are lots of reasons why not.

First, Thanksgiving has been around for 150 years, but there’s no reason to think it’ll last another 70,000 years any more than the Romans should have thought we’d still be celebrating Saturnalia today. Countries and empires come and go, and so do their traditions.

Second, smart money says that when the Shmuelian calendar gets far enough out of whack that Passover no longer occurs in spring, there will be an adjustment. Or maybe there’ll be an adjustment to the Gregorian calendar first, for as yet unknown reasons. Or perhaps an entirely new calendar will appear on the scene. Who knows?

Third, zombies. Just sayin’.

Dr. Joel Hoffman gives a more detailed and eloquent description of Why Hanukkah and Thanksgiving Will Never Again Coincide over at Huffington Post.

1.  what you should do when it starts to rain

Speaking of things that coincide…

Parallel lines meet at infinity — which must make infinity a very noisy place!

An unfortunate coincidence…

The grad student stood up in his cubicle and shouted, “Why do things that happen to dumb people keep happening to me?”

And a funny coincidence…

After a long day of teaching, grading papers, and doing research for a paper, a mathematician headed to the pub where he was supposed to meet his wife. Seeing her across the bar, he walked up behind her, spun her stool around, and kissed her on the lips. She pushed him away violently, at which point he realized the woman wasn’t his wife.

“I’m very sorry,” he said. “I thought you were my wife. You look exactly like her.”

“You rotten, good-for-nothing son-of-a-bitch,” she said, and slapped him across the face.

“Funny,” he said. “You talk like her, too.”

November 27, 2013 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

Gobble Up Some Math Fun

How’s this for a change? I’m actually going to start this post with a joke…

What did the mathematician say after finishing Thanksgiving dinner?
\frac{\sqrt{-1}}{8} (I overate).

The following turkey was made entirely from pattern blocks:

Pattern Block Turkey

For some wholesome family fun, try to construct a pattern block turkey with the following:

  • three hexagons
  • three trapezoids
  • four triangles
  • five fat rhombi
  • five skinny rhombi

If you don’t have a bucket of pattern blocks at your disposal, download the following template from the MJ4MF website, copy it onto cardstock, and cut out the 20 shapes you’ll need:

Pattern Block Turkey (PDF) 

If that puzzle doesn’t give you enough to think about, here are a few quotes that might:

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch,
you must first invent the universe.
~ Carl Sagan

Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Halftimes take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.
~ Erma Bombeck

Happy Turkey Day!

November 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

A Math Geek Gives Thanks

My life is pretty good. I mean, sure, I wish I were better at Scrabble®, or a little smarter, or a little faster, or a lot better looking. But don’t we all? Overall, I really can’t complain.

For instance, I get to write a blog about math jokes, I get to do math every day for a living, and I know that the proper amount of time t, in minutes, to cook a turkey is given by the formula t = 38 × w2/3, where w is the weight of the turkey in pounds. And all of that is pretty cool.

I’ve not been as happy lately as I probably should be. Thanksgiving seems like the right day to reverse that pattern and recount all the things in life for which a math geek like I should be grateful. Feel free to let me know what you’re grateful for, too.

  • For twin sons who love math almost as much as their daddy
  • For my sons getting so excited that they speak faster than I can possibly understand (especially when they’re excited about math)
  • For a wife who’s willing to tolerate a schlub like me, and who makes it very easy to keep loving her
  • For grocery store tiles of the perfect size, so that your natural stride length perfectly aligns with light and dark squares
  • For the wonderful safety of numbers
  • For getting lost in a challenging problem
  • For going to bed with a challenging problem, and waking up with the solution
  • For MathWorld
  • For cheesy math jokes
  • For people who appreciate cheesy math jokes
  • For good health
  • For Nurikabe
  • For friends who know what a scoober, a thumber and a blade are
  • For Excel®
  • For all of the amazing people at Penn State who are not currently garnering headlines but are doing wonderful things for society
  • For eyesight, to see the mathematical beauty in the world
  • For teachers, and for anyone else who is willing to share their knowledge
  • For disappointment, which reminds me to appreciate all the good things that I already have in my life
  • For cell phones and free long distance
  • For serendipitously changing the channel to a football game with five minutes left when Tim Tebow has the ball
  • For zizzes, and for the word zizz
  • For Scrabble® (and more recently Words with Friends)
  • For finding a parking spot with time still left on the meter
  • For placing the last piece of a puzzle
  • For having a really great original idea
  • For friends who save me six seconds by pulling a beer out of the cooler and tossing it to me rather than walking over and handing it to me; and, for friends who trust that I’ll catch it
  • For clever food names, like the “Muddy Pig” (mini-donut with Nutella and bacon crumbles) at Union Jack Pub in Harrisonburg, VA, or “Devils on Horseback” (chutney-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon)
  • For ordering a beer you’ve never heard of, and finding that it’s your new DOC (drink of choice)
  • For usually making good decisions
  • For having things happen that aren’t all that bad when I’ve made poor decisions

November 24, 2011 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Jokes

So, maybe they’re not mathy… but the following jokes are appropriate for today…

The young turkey graduated high honors with a math degree, but he returned home and seemed reluctant to look for work. His mother was distraught. Arriving home one day, she found him on the couch again, watching reruns of Mystery Science Theater 3000. “Jesus, look at you,” she said. “If your father could see you, he’d be rolling over in his gravy!”

Why don’t turkeys get invited to high society parties?
Because the hosts are worried they’ll use fowl language.

An octogenarian calls his daughter a few days before Thanksgiving and tells her that he and her mother are getting a divorce. “But, daddy,” she says, “you can’t do that!” He explains that even though they’ve been together 50 years, they’re miserable and it’s for the best. “Please tell your brother and sister,” he says, “because I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.” The daughter immediately calls her siblings; they agree that they will not allow their parents to divorce. The daughter calls her father back. “There’s no way you’re getting a divorce,” she says. “We’re coming there tomorrow to sort this out. Don’t say anything to mom before we get there.” As she hangs up, her father turns to his wife and says, “It’s all taken care of, honey — they’re all coming for Thanksgiving, and it isn’t costing us a dime!”

November 25, 2010 at 12:45 am Leave a 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.

MJ4MF (offline version)

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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