## March 14: π Day! A π roundup, mostly pie

March 14, 2013

Of course you remembered that today is pi Day, right?

Happy π Day! Pi Day Pie – Slashfood.com

Oh, or maybe better, π Day.

We’ll start with the brief post from a few months ago, and then build on it with some activities and posts from around the WordPress-o-sphere.

Make (and Eat) a Pie – These pie recipes for Pi Day from NPR’s McCallister look incredibly tasty. But, there’s no shame in putting a frozen store-bought pie in the oven, or picking up a pie from your local bakery. Any kind of pie is great on Pi Day! If you’re making your own, get inspired by these beautifully designed Pi Day Pies. Tell us on Facebook: What’s your favorite kind of pie for Pi Day?

Hope your π Day is complete as a circle, and well-rounded!

How are others celebrating?  A look around WordPress:

At SocialMediaPhobe, a musical interpretation of pifeaturing the music of Michael Blake:

So Long Freedom:

Today is March 14th, also known as “Pi Day” for us math geeks out there because March 14th (3/14) is the first 3 digits of π (3.14159…).  To celebrate “Pi Day” I highly recommend doing something mathematical while having some pie at 1:59 pm.  I recommend Yumology‘s S’mores Pie as it has 3 main ingredients (chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker) and about 0.14159 other ingredients like sugar, butter, and stuff.  If you are not a math geek, its okay…you can still eat pie and count things like how many stop signs you pass on your way back to work from lunch.  Or you could go to the library and take out a book on something fun like binary code.  As we like to say, “There are only 10 types of people in the world:  Those that understand binary and those that don’t.”  Seriously, binary is as easy as 01000001, 01000010, 01000011.

So besides being  the cause of much techie “irrational” exuberance, Pi Day  is a great way to get some engagement with students.

Marymount High School has several activities, last year they had a design competition incorporating pi; the students then made and sold buttons of each design, proceeds going to the Red Cross.

Hmm- math subject matter, design, production, sales, accounting.

Sounds like what we do in manufacturing.
Maybe celebrating Pi Day is not so irrational as first thought.

Free said his pie is peach.

On March 12, 2009 your lawmakers  passed a non-binding resolution (HRES 224) recognizing March 14, 2009 as National Pi Day. It is one of the more legit holidays we discuss here, and it is actually an homage to geeks everywhere who see the date as a reason to celebrate due to its mathematical implications. We say any reason to celebrate anything is just fine by us.

Since we are predominately about food we will suggest a few places to actually enjoy a pie.

If you followed us at all this week you may have seen the pie at Bowl and Barrel pop up on our pages. This is the uber delicious Butterscotch Pie served as the solo dessert at the bowling alley and restaurant.  Go eat one of these.

He’s got more pi pie, if you click over there.

Gareth Branwyn at MakeZine offers more pie and a mnemonic:

How to Remember Pi to 15 Digits

By way of sci-fi author and mathenaut Rudy Rucker’s Facebook wall comes this:

One way to remember the first few digits of pi is to count the letters in the words of this phrase:

“How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics.”

[Image via FreakingNews]

b.love offers this clock image (is this clock for sale somewhere?):

A clock for pi day

Chirag Singh explains his “passion for pi.”

Daniel Tammet, “Different Ways of Knowing:

Geeks are really out in force today, flaunting pi for all they’ve got.

More:

## It’s raining crazy

January 12, 2013

Sheesh! Did climate change boost the crazy crop, or what?

Without much comment, a few stories that cropped up in the browser today; as the comic writer Dave Barry says, you can’t make this stuff up.  If you were trying to sell it as fiction, they’d laugh you out of the room.  Nobody could be that crazy . . . and yet:

1. Creationists visited the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found they don’t like what science knows about nature, especially evolution.  Why did they even bother to go?  Story at the Sensuous Curmudgeon.
2. At Slate, David Weigel wrote about Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan to eliminate the state tax on gasoline — the tax that pays for roads and bridges — and instead tax hybrid cars.   It’s stupid, because it dramatically increases taxes on clean air machines, and it creates the wrong incentives for a tax system.  But it’s dramatically crazy because it sucks money out of the funds to build and repair roads and bridges.  As best I can tell, it takes a tax that collects about \$100/vehicle now, and imposes a tax on about 5% of cars, of about \$100.  There can’t be enough money coming in to replace the tax.  In short, McDonnell’s plan damages jobs, hurts business, and leaves Virginia in the back row of well-run states.  With patriot plans like McDonnell’s, who needs al Quaeda, the Soviet Union, or China?

Fox News’s Eric Bolling calls the distributive property of multiplication “liberal bias.” It must be embarrassing to flunk algebra so publicly on national television. RawStory image

3. Sometimes the excess of stupid makes you feel embarrassed for them.  Fox News distorter Eric Bolling accused teachers (natch!) of indoctrinating students in algebra classes.  (See what I mean?  You can’t make up this sort of crazy — oh, you don’t see what I mean?  Read on).  Seems Mr. Bolling has discovered — this is exclusive — that there are problems in algebra books that teach the distributive property of multiplication! Can you get much more liberal that that? Bolling wonders.  The rest of us wonder, can Fox News sink any lower in the stupid sump.  (Distributive property.)
4. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, James Yeager who claims to be a consultant and instructor in security, urges people to arm up for civil war because, Yeager is sure, Obama is coming to get everybody’s guns.  His profanity-laced YouTube rant is off of his site, but preserved for us (fortunately? unfortunately?) at RawStory.  This is a bit too crazy even for West Tennessee — the state suspended the man’s handgun carry permits. (Would he have been so persecuted, had he been living in East Tennessee?)
5. Hackers exploited a flaw they found in Java 7 — the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can’t figure a fix, and neither has Oracle, so Homeland Security urges businesses to disable Java on their browsers.

There’s a statue to Frank Zappa in Europe, another in Baltimore; Rep. Gingrey, not so much. Frank Zappa-Statue von Vaclav Cesak in Bad Doberan Quelle: selbst fotographiert Fotograf/Zeichner: Hei_ber Datum: 2003 Sonstiges: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Another Republican Member of the House of Representatives made a burro of himself with comments about rape.  In a bad paraphrase of Frank Zappa, “Rep. Phil Gingrey, what’s gotten into you?”  Gingrey misrepresents a district in Georgia.
7. The House GOP is still threatening to shoot America’s economy in the head unless Democrats agree to crash the economy in the ditch with draconian, unnecessary and damaging spending cuts.
8. Anthony Watts already has a half-dozen posts up denying the recent findings that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous 48 United States.  James Delingpole, at The Daily Mail is just making stuff up.  (Should it be “Gourdian?”) I hadn’t realized there was a King of Denial crown up for grabs.
Update, January 15, 2013:  Greg Laden reported that the Watts blog has taken crazy to cosmic proportions.

There is good information out there.  I hope there is an army of sane people to get the good information, and sort it from the bad.

I’m going to sleep on it.  Good night!

More:

This one’s for you, Eric Bollinger; from Khan Academy, the Distributive Property of Multiplication:

(Did you notice that the answer was the same under the “liberal” distributive law as it was without its use?)

## The anti-teacher, anti-lawyer, anti-education, anti-math, anti-civil rights truth behind “Kill all the lawyers”

March 10, 2012

Mostly an encore post — something we shouldn’t have to repeat, but thoughts that deserve a place in everyone’s mind in an election year.  I originally posted this back in 2006.

All this murder of lawyers, teachers, accountants, education and civil rights, is bloody business. Poster from Michael Boyd's 2000 production of Henry VI, Part II, at Stratford; PBS image via Wikipedia

In an otherwise informative post about a controversy over alternative certification for school administrators, at EdWize, I choked on this:

The Department leaders, Klein, Seidman and Alonso, lawyers all (perhaps Shakespeare was correct), are rigid ideologues who have alienated their work force as well as the parents of their constituents

Did you catch that? Especially the link to the Shakespeare line, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers?”

This is not exactly history we’re fisking here — it’s drama, I suppose. Still, it falls neatly into the category of debunkings, not too unlike the debunking of the story of Millard Fillmore’s bathtub.

The line from Shakespeare is accurate. It’s from Henry VI, Part II. But it’s not so much a diatribe against lawyers as it is a part of a satirical indictment of those who would overthrow government, and oppress the masses for personal gain.

It is Dick the Butcher who says the line. Jack Cade has just expressed his warped view that he should be king, after having attempted a coup d’etat and taken power, at least temporarily. Cade starts in with his big plans to reform the economy — that is, to let his friends eat cheap or free, while other suffer and starve.

Dick chimes in to suggest that in the new regime, the lawyers ought to be the first to go — they protect rights of people and property rights, and such rights won’t exist in Cade’s imagined reign. Cade agrees. The purpose of killing the lawyers, then, is to perpetuate their rather lawless regime.

At that moment others in Cade’s conspiracy enter, having captured the town Clerk of Chatham. The man is put on trial for his life, accused of being able to read and keep accounts. Worse, he’s been caught instructing young boys to read.

There is no saving the poor Clerk at that point.  Cade orders the Clerk to be hanged, “with his pen and inkhorn around his neck” (even the pen was considered dangerous!).

Thus Shakespeare relates how terrorists of old steal government and rights, by killing the lawyers, the educated, and especially the teachers.

It’s still true today. Those who would steal rights from people, those who would oppress others, assault the rule of law, education, and those who spread learning. Beware those who urge death to law and learning; they are related to Dick the Butcher, philosophically, at least.  (No offense to honest butchers, I hope — especially to members of the UFCW.  Dick the Butcher was not a member of any butcher’s union.)

Here is the text, from the site “William Shakespeare — the Complete Works”:

Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows
reformation. There shall be in England seven
halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped
pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony
to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in
common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to
grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,–

ALL
God save your majesty!

I thank you, good people: there shall be no money;
all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will
apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree
like brothers and worship me their lord.

DICK
The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable
thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should
be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled
o’er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:
but I say, ’tis the bee’s wax; for I did but seal
once to a thing, and I was never mine own man
since. How now! who’s there?

(Enter some, bringing forward the Clerk of Chatham)

Smith the Weaver and Dick the Butcher seize the Clerk of Chatham, in Act IV, scene ii of Henry VI, Part II. Engraving by Henry William Bunbury, from collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library; original published by Thos. Macklin Poets Gallery, London, 1795

SMITH
The clerk of Chatham: he can write and read and
cast accompt.

O monstrous!

SMITH
We took him setting of boys’ copies.

Here’s a villain!

SMITH
Has a book in his pocket with red letters in’t.

Nay, then, he is a conjurer.

DICK
Nay, he can make obligations, and write court-hand.

I am sorry for’t: the man is a proper man, of mine
honour; unless I find him guilty, he shall not die.
Come hither, sirrah, I must examine thee: what is thy name?

CLERK
Emmanuel.

DICK
They use to write it on the top of letters: ’twill
go hard with you.

CLERK
Sir, I thank God, I have been so well brought up
that I can write my name.

ALL
He hath confessed: away with him! he’s a villain
and a traitor.

Away with him, I say! hang him with his pen and
ink-horn about his neck.

>Exit one with the Clerk

More, Resources (some from Zemanta):

## Bored in class? Do some math, for fun.

December 22, 2011

This is a good video that all math teachers ought to see (heck, I can figure out how to use it as a bell ringer in social studies, I think).

I had to mention it, just because of Michael Tobis’s wonderful headline at Planet 3.0:  “Bored in class?  Do some math instead.”

I confess to being caught doing math instead, in English, in history — and in art we often made mathematical games to create patterns.  From the stuff I see on walls in schools, that’s still popular.

Some time ago I ordered a poster from Max Temkin, the brilliant poster propagandist/artist.  It says that the universe is easy to understand if you speak its language, and that language is mathematics.  True.

Also true that in most of the disciplines that work into classes we call social studies, we do not have the ability to discern the cool patterns like Fibonacci numbers in pine cones, pineapples and sunflower blossoms.  People look for those pattersn in history anyway, and that poses a key problem to policy makers.  People want to see a pattern, expect to see a pattern, and historians cannot meet that expectation, other than quoting Santayana.

Maybe one of my students will be the one who discerns a key pattern.  It’ll be one of the slackers, if it happens.

## New in tattoos: The formula of Wall Street doom

May 11, 2011

Here’s one the prof won’t even care about — you can’t cheat with this one, and if you do, you get burned:

Tattoo of the formula that created the 2008 financial crisise, from Marketplace.

The financial crisis in one handy tattoo: surely you remember the formula that caused the financial crisis. But you haven’t seen it like this, from a creative friend of Marketplace who works for advertising firm Wieden + Kennedy, based in Portland. He enlisted “the ever-brilliant designer James Tung, computational typeface author Donald Knuth, and the steady hand of Cheyenne at Atlas Tattoo, according to his Facebook post[.]

Earlier, Marketplace interviewed Felix Salmon, who wrote about the formula for Wired.

RYSSDAL: This guy, David Li, what was he trying to do?

SALMON: What David Li was trying to do was look at lots of different bonds and try and work out whether they were all moving in the same direction or not. Whether they were correlated or not. Whether they were independent of each other or not. And he created this astonishing piece of mathematics called the Gaussian copula function, which sought to answer that very question.

RYSSDAL: What does that mean — Gaussian copula? I mean, if I can just take a little sidebar here for a second.

SALMON: People get very scared when they hear the word Gaussian. But this is just one way of looking to see whether one set of probabilities is associated with another set of probabilities. The really key part of the Gaussian copula function is the copula bit. It’s what’s known as a multivariant copula. You can take lots of different bonds or stocks or any kind of securities you like, and you can throw them all into one big equation and out the end get a single number which is easily manipulable and trackable as they say in the world of quantitative finance.

If you mention “Gaussian copula functions” at a cocktail party, you might do well to avoid anyone who appears to know what you’re talking about . . .

## March 14: π Day!

March 14, 2011

Of course you remembered that today is pi Day, right?

Happy π Day! Pi Day Pie - Slashfood.com

Oh, or maybe better, π Day.

Make (and Eat) a Pie – These pie recipes for Pi Day from NPR’s McCallister look incredibly tasty. But, there’s no shame in putting a frozen store-bought pie in the oven, or picking up a pie from your local bakery. Any kind of pie is great on Pi Day! If you’re making your own, get inspired by these beautifully designed Pi Day Pies. Tell us on Facebook: What’s your favorite kind of pie for Pi Day?

Hope your π Day is complete as a circle, and well-rounded!

## Texas ranks ahead of Indiana in higher level math proficiency!

December 26, 2010

That’s not really great news — Texas loses to Lithuania.

But without changing the captions on this great cartoon from McLeod Cartoons, it’s about the best we can say.

Bragging with little to brag about -- your child left behind

McLeod’s inspiration came from The Atlantic’s report, “Your Child left Behind.”

## Powers of Ten day coming: 10/10/10

August 30, 2010

### TENTH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL POWERS OF TEN DAY

Santa Monica, California, August 27, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — The Eames Office announces with pleasure the Tenth Annual International Powers of Ten Day on October 10, 2010 (10/10/10). Powers of Ten Day promotes and encourages Powers of Ten Thinking, a form of rich, cross-disciplinary thought that approaches ideas from multiple interrelated perspectives, ranging from the infinitesimal to the cosmic—and the orders of magnitude in between.

The Milky Way Galaxy from the film, Powers of Ten, by Charles and Ray Eames. For use only in conjunction with press about Powers of Ten Day 2010. © 1977 Eames Office, LLC (eamesoffice.com) (caption provided)

Powers of Ten Day is inspired by the classic film Powers of Ten by designers Charles and Ray Eames. The film, a nine-minute visual journey of scale, takes the viewer from a picnic out to the edge of space and then back to a carbon atom in the hand of the man sleeping at the picnic. Every 10 seconds the view is from 10 times further away. In all, more than 40 Powers of Ten are visualized seamlessly. One of the most widely seen short films of all time—at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for decades and still widely used in schools around the world—Powers of Ten has influenced pop culture from The Simpsons to the rock band Coldplay, from Hummer commercials to the movie Men in Black. But Powers of Ten received perhaps the ultimate accolade in 1998 when the Library of Congress selected it, along with Easy Rider, Bride of Frankenstein, and Tootsie, for the National Film Registry—one of the 25 films of great cultural value chosen each year.

And the film’s importance only grows. Scale is not precisely just size, it is the relative size of things. As Eames Demetrios, director of the Eames Office, has said: “Scale is the new geography. So many of our challenges today are ultimately matters of scale. To be a good citizen of the world and have a chance to make it a better place, a person must have a real understanding of scale.”

Powers of Ten Day is for teachers, librarians, architects, designers, store owners, webmasters, business people, scientists, filmmakers, meditation gurus, parents, kids, and anyone wanting to extend the boundaries of their thinking. Participating can be as simple as watching the video (showing online throughout October [the tenth month] at www.powersof10.com), or putting together a screening of the film for friends or co-workers—at home, in a school, or at a library. Our goal is for as many people as possible to watch or share the film on that day. Some will be seeing it for the first time. Some will be revisiting a favorite classic. Everyone can be part of the conversation.

Powers of Ten Day can also be a lot more. Activities are happening worldwide throughout October. With the help of the DVD Scale is the New Geography as well as a Powers of Ten Box Kit, individuals (teachers in the broadest sense) can lead engaging workshops for kids and/or adults that let participants create their own scale journeys. Although those materials may be purchased at www.eamesoffice.com, as Eames Office Education Director Carla Hartman notes, “We’ve set aside some sets to be available at no charge for inquiring schools and teachers.” Those supplies are limited—and some are already being put to use. To inquire about availability of Powers of Ten supplies at no charge, email info@eamesoffice.com.

The Eames Office also encourages you to create and share your contributions. Over the years art has been created, music shared, global pilgrimages performed, and more. But most of all there has been hands-on learning. Events can be registered, and photographs, drawings, and writings uploaded. Sorted by power and by event, these will serve as inspiration and fodder for other events around the world—more than 1,000, possibly 10,000.

Anyone living in or visiting Southern California is welcome to visit the Powers of Ten Exhibition at the Eames Office in Santa Monica from now until the end of the year. There will be an event each day the exhibition is open during the month of October. Many more fun and thought-provoking activities will be available at www.powersof10.com by the end of the summer. The exhibit includes such things as a box that can hold 1 million pennies; as of mid-August, there were already 250,000! All the pennies collected will be given to TreePeople, an environmental nonprofit that unites the power of trees, people and technology to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles.

Powers of Ten Thinking extends beyond this unique date of 10/10/10. As Demetrios says, “There is a little bit of the numerologist in all of us, so we love celebrating this date, but empowering people to explore and make connections between scales is a year-round goal of ours.” The Eames Office looks forward to tracking and inspiring another decade’s worth of Powers of Ten events. Towards that end, a map of the Earth on the website (and at the Office) will track events around our world.

The Eames Office is dedicated to communicating, preserving, and extending the work of Charles and Ray Eames. Additional information is available online at www.powersof10.com, as well as at www.eamesoffice.com and www.eamesfoundation.org.

The Powers of Ten Exhibition is open from 11 to 6, Wednesday through Saturday at the Eames Office, 850 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405; 310/396-5991.

Powers of Ten Day is generously sponsored by IBM Corporation with additional support from Herman Miller Inc., Vitra, and Penfolds.

Your school should have one of the Eames versions of the film in the school library (they did more than one).  This is truly a classic, and it should be a good discussion starter for several different topics — map reading, map scaling, environmentalism, existentialism, transcendentalism, and more.

So what will you do for Powers of Ten Day?

## Stupid math tricks: Judge’s innumeracy screws defendant

June 4, 2010

Had difficulty with fractions in third grade, did you?

Which is larger, 1/4, or 1/2?

Nothing like the judge in this story, I’m sure.  From the depths of Europe, Zeno details how a judge’s seeming infacility with numbers took an injustice against a petitioner in his court, and made it worse.

It’s the sort of error you’d expect of a third-grade kid who hasn’t watched enough “Sesame Street.”  Which of these fractions is larger?  1/5, or 1/6?

Is the judge really that dumb, or is this an elaborate, sarcastic hoax on the petitioner?

Math teachers, can you use this to show the importance of learning math well enough to do simple math functions mentally, without paper and calculator?

While you’re at Zeno’s place, Halfway There, look around. Zeno writes well, has good stories to tell, and you could learn a lot about a lot of things — you know, just by observing.

## Calculus as fun

October 1, 2009

I used to love math tests.  And math homework. When I knew the stuff, I’d start hearing Bach in my head and get into a rhythm of solving the problems (though I didn’t know it was Bach until much later — “Aha!  That’s the math solving music!”).

But eventually my brain ossified, before I got calculus into it.  I believe (this is belief, not science) that at some point rather early in life our brains lose the ability to pick up new math ideas.  If you don’t have most of the stuff you need already in there, you won’t get it.  I frittered my math ability away in the library and traveling with the debate squad, not knowing that I’d never be able to get it back.  In my dual degree program, I ran into that wall where I had five years worth of credits, but was still a year away from the biology degree with a tiny handful of core courses for which calculus was a prerequisite.  Worse, I was close to completing a third major.

And I’d failed at calculus four times.

So I graduated instead, didn’t go to grad school in biology.

Earlier this last evening I sat with a couple of new teachers in math at a parents’ night function for seniors.  They commiserated over trying to make math relevant for students.  One said he couldn’t figure out how history teachers survive at all with no mass of problems to solve at the end of each chapter (that was refreshing).

It’s a constant problem.

Then I ran into this story by Jennifer Ouellette at Cocktail Party Physics:

Students need to feel inspired, particularly when it comes to a difficult subject. While I was at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics last year as journalist in residence, I got to know UC-Santa Barbara mathematician Bisi Agboola, who generously shared his own story with me. Bisi was educated in the UK and failed most of his math classes through their equivalent of high school. “I found it dull, confusing and difficult.” As a child, he was determined to find a career where he wouldn’t need any math, finally announcing to his skeptical parents that he would be a woodcutter. He was crushed when they pointed out that he would need to measure the wood.

But one summer he encountered a Time-Life book on mathematics –- Mathematics by David Bergamini -– that offered “an account of the history of some of the main ideas of mathematics, from the Babylonians up until the 1960s, and it captured my imagination and made the subject come alive to me for the very first time.” It changed his mind about this seemingly dry subject. He realized there was beauty in it. He wound up teaching himself calculus, and told me he is convinced most physicists also do this. Today he is a PhD mathematician specializing in number theory, and exotic multidimensional topologies. Ironically, he still doesn’t much like basic arithmetic: “I find it boring.”

Jennifer is writing a book on calculus, how it’s real-life stuff.  I hope it’s a great success.  I hope it works.  I hope some student is inspired to get calculus before her or his brain gets ossified.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Decrepit Old Fool.

Calculate how far you can send this message:

## The circle is unbroken, though there may be tangential lines

September 30, 2009

Do you recognize this?

No, it's not a slide rule - photo by Decrepit Old Fool

It sure looks like a slide rule, doesn’t it?

The last really grand slide rule I had was a fancy aluminum job that my older brother Wes used at the Air Force Academy.  It was easily worth a couple of hundred dollars, and it had a very nice leather pouch.

Somebody stole it from me in the football locker room.  I never liked football as much after that.

At the University of Utah I got enough ahead to buy a smaller version that still resides somewhere in our house.  I actually used it once in a debate round to great effect — it was cross examination debate (not so big back then), on an energy topic.  The affirmative (UCLA?  USC?  One of those two) had a daylight savings case.  They rattled off some huge number of barrels of oil to be saved, and on c-x I got it out of them that the number was barrels saved per month.  Then I got ‘em to confess to how many barrels we actually use in the U.S., daily, and with the slide rule’s help calculated that they were saving one-half of one percent (0.5%), with some rather draconian measures and stiff fines and jail time.

I had the slide rule with me to do homework on the drive to and from the meet across the deserts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico; I was used it only to make sure I wasn’t off by an order of magnitude on the calculation — but when I looked up I feared the eyes of the judge were going to inflate and float out of his head.  We won the round, I won the speaker points that round, and the judge commented about how facile the negative had been with numbers . . .

But I digress.  A little.

Decrepit Old Fool posted that picture.  It’s an iPhone — with a slide rule application (“app” to the technoscenti).

Using electrons to mimic an old slide rule!  It leaves one speechless, and with a tear in one’s eye.

I’m sure I’d have to play with the thing for a few minutes to figure out how to do percentages again.  The slide rule use in that debate round a few decades ago was cutting edge application of the tool at hand.  It was not a fancy calculation, or difficult — it was overkill, really, because we all should have been able to do the calculations in our heads, with little fear of being inaccurate.  The judge in the round was probably a speech or rhetoric grad student, working on a masters or Ph.D., and hadn’t taken a math class since freshman year.  I don’t know if he thought to feel stupid; maybe he hoped the praise for our use of the thing would cover that up.

DOF makes the case that technology shouldn’t make us feel stupid, not if its makers want to sell it.    Maybe that has more to do with the demise of the slide rule than the rise of calculators does.  It’s a great post over there.  Go read it.

## What’s a henway? Practical testing

May 31, 2009

Evan at Two Dishes but to One Table provides some salient commentary on the New York Regents test and practical math skills, with a little bit of Henny Youngman thrown in.  Though, I must admit my physics chops are rusty:  How many newtons to a chicken egg?  I’m almost clueless.

Warning to dilettentes:  Link to actual released Regents test included.

## Equations, tattooed into our lives

May 2, 2009

Tattoo of Alison, a high-school physics teacher - from Carl Zimmer's Collection, at the Loom

Can’t tell which equation is the Mandelbrot Set, which the hydrostatic equation, which the description of entropy?  Can’t figure out why the delta, and otherwise confused?  Alison explains it all, at Carl Zimmer’s blog, The Loom.

It’s relatively clear that she didn’t get the tats to use them to cheat on any exams.

## π day forever

March 23, 2009

π day comes around every year on March 14, right?  3.14.

With all the other commemorative resolutions that zip through Congress, how could anyone vote against an official, federal designation of π day?

Quote of the Week

“How can you vote in favor of Pi Day, if it’s just one day. Pi Day should be forever,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Chaffetz was one of just 10 members of Congress to oppose designating March 14th as Pi Day, meant to encourage math education. It honors the famous number pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter), which starts as 3.14 and goes on forever.

When asked if this is really why he voted against the resolution, Chaffetz said, “Absolutely.”

391 other members voted for the resolution.  H. Res 224, Supporting the designation of Pi Day and for other purposes, sponsored by Rep. Gordon Bart of Tennessee and 15 cosponsors, passed.  Full text below the fold, from the Library of Congress tracking application, Thomas.

## Math: Language for a smarter planet

March 23, 2009

But will it inspire any kid?

Tip of the old scrub brush to P***ed Off Teacher.