Posts tagged ‘zero’

A Gridiculously Clever Blog Post

Do you know what the following graph represents?

Sine on the Dotted Line

Sine on the dotted line.

If you tell that joke to the right audience, you’ll likely hear a triggle. (If you tell it to the wrong audience, you’ll likely hear the sound of tomatoes whizzing past your head.)

Triggle is a portmanteau, a combination of two or more words and their definitions.

trigonometry + giggle = triggle

In a similar vein, when the expression

13 + 5 · 0 – 4

is simplified to

13 – 4,

you might say that it has suffered from zerosion — the removal of a term because of multiplication by zero.

The following portmanteaux may be useful for your next math discussion.

bi·sect·u·al
adjective
attracted to both halves of an angle

grid·ic·u·lous1
adjective
inviting derision on the coordinate plane

cha·rad·i·us
noun
a segment from the center to the circumference based on false pretenses

bi·zarc
noun
an unusual curve

graph·ish
adjective
diagrammatically disreputable

sub·line
adjective
inspiring awe in only one dimension

trig·a·ma·role
noun
a complicated and annoying trigonometric process, such as verifying that
cot x + tan x = sec x · csc x


1 It came to my attention after the publication of this post that Gridiculous is (a) a trivia game developed for Windows 8 and (b) an HTML5 responsive grid boilerplate (though the link to the site seems not to be working).

September 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Things I Learned on a Boston Duck Tour

Dirty Waters

ConDUCKtor Dirty Waters

Dirty Waters led our Boston Duck Tour yesterday and told us a little about himself:

I’m wicked smaht. In fact, I was valedictorian of my high school. Of course, I was homeschooled… but my mom says it still counts.

Dirty was a veritable fountain of math-related trivia. For instance, he told us that the movie Good Will Hunting, in which Matt Damon roams the halls of Ford Building at MIT solving difficult math problems, wasn’t actually filmed at MIT. Rather,

The hallway scenes were filmed at Beacon Hill Community College… and let’s be honest, anyone can answer the math questions that are asked there.

Incidentally, the math problem that Damon solved involved drawing all the homeomorphically irreducible trees of degree 10. While I don’t know how well the typical BHCC student might react to this problem, I do know that my seven-year-old sons were able to solve it — once I helped them understand what a homeomorphically irreducible tree was.

Irreducible Tree of Degree 10

Irreducible Tree

We also learned the following non-math trivia about Paul Revere:

  • Paul Revere didn’t actually make it to Concord. He was captured by the Redcoats and sang like a songbird — he divulged the entirety of the colonists’ plans.
  • He didn’t yell, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” That would have made no sense. At the time of his midnight ride, all of the colonists considered themselves British. Instead, he probably yelled, “The Regulars are coming!” a term used to describe British soldiers.
  • That’s not Samuel Adams on the front of a Sam Adams bottle. It’s Paul Revere, who was much more handsome than Adams.

This made me realize that a lot of the things we learn(ed) in school are complete bullshit:

  1. Paul Revere informed the folks in Concord that the British were coming. In fact, Samuel Prescott was the only rider to reach Concord. A third rider that night, William Dawes, accompanied Revere and Prescott, but he was thrown from his horse and walked back to Lexington.
  2. Humans have five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing). Actually, no… most social scientists also include pain, hunger, thirst, pressure, balance, acceleration, and time, among others.
  3. Sentences cannot end with prepositions. Not true, and sometimes you’ll sound like Yoda if you try to do otherwise (e.g., “Rained out was the baseball game”). The classic joke is, “What is a preposition? A preposition is a word one must never end a sentence with.”
  4. Division by zero is impossible. It’s not impossible; it’s just a bad idea. Weird stuff happens when you divide by zero, and it’s easier to avoid it by calling the action “undefined.”
  5. Chameleons change color to blend in. ‘Twould be awesome were it so, but they actually change color to communicate. While you might flip someone the bird to let them know you’re unhappy, a chameleon would just change to a darker color.
  6. Columbus thought the world was flat. No, he didn’t, and neither did most educated people at the time. Columbus’s mistake was actually underestimating the size of the Earth. He was lucky to have found the West Indies, lest he and all of his crew would have died of starvation.

Why do these inaccuracies persist? I suspect most of the errors are legacy content from hundred-year-old curriculum; the alternative is that it’s willful deceit on the part of educators, and that’s hard to swallow.

What other complete bullshit is still perpetuated in American classrooms?

Leave a comment.

August 7, 2014 at 8:07 am 2 comments

The Twelve Days of Crisp Math – Day 3

It’s December 14, the Third Day of Crisp Math, and students all over the country are hoping for inclement weather.

Teacher: We will have a test tomorrow, rain or shine.
Student: Great! It’s snowing!

I can imagine the conversations that will happen following that test…

Student: Ma’am, I don’t think I deserved a zero on this test!
Teacher: I agree, but it’s the lowest score I’m allowed to give you.

December 14, 2012 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

What’s So Funny? Oh, Nothing

If Charles Seife can write a book about nothing, and Jerry Seinfeld can have a show about nothing, then certainly I can create a blog post about nothing.0

The following quote is attributed to Les Dawson:

There is a remote tribe that worships the number zero.
Is nothing sacred?

Here are some other jokes about nothing.

What do you get when you cross a pigeon and a zero?
A flying none!

Why was the number zero fired?
Because he added no value to his company.

Black holes are where God divided by zero.

Finally, here’s a longer joke about nothing that did not receive the approval of PETA.

A scientist is attempting to determine the relationship between the number of legs a frog has and how far it can jump. The scientist sets a frog on the ground and yells, “Jump, frog!” The frog launches itself a good distance. In his notebook, the scientist writes, “Frog with 4 legs: 6 feet.”

The scientist then removes the frog’s front legs and again yells, “Jump, frog!” Though hobbled, the frog still puts forth a reasonable effort. In his notebook, the scientist writes, “Frog with 2 legs: 2 feet.”

The scientist then removes the frog’s back legs and again yells, “Jump, frog!” Not surprisingly, the frog does not move. Again, the scientist yells, “Jump, frog!” And again, the frog does not move. In his notebook, the scientist writes, “Frog with 0 legs: Inconclusive results. The frog has become deaf.”

No animals were harmed in the telling of this joke.

June 26, 2011 at 8:14 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.

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