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Posts Tagged ‘math and science’

Are You “Mathematically Challenged?”


picture of binary Sudoku

Some people have a great mind for math, and some don't. Until my last year of high school, I enjoyed my math classes very much and even did math problems from old textbooks from the late 1800's, just for fun. (So I was a nerd, okay?) 🙂 The further I went in math in high school, though, the less enjoyable it became to me. When Algebra 2 and Math 4 started going towards trig, sines, cosines, and calculus, it was beyond my interest and abilities and was really no longer fun. Now, besides grades for classes, the most I do with numbers is my game or two of Sudoku every evening. I loved base 2 in junior high, but I'm not sure how to solve the Sudoku puzzle from http://xkcd.com on the right.

I recently saw a pie chart that was an encouragement me for having abandoned Algebra, once I got deeper into it.

picture of pie chart

All joking aside, there really are many jobs that require one's being able to work accurately with numbers. For instance, if an engineer's calculations are off even slightly, the results can be disastrous, as seen below.
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Cat Laws of Physics


picture of kitten in a Pringles can

Even if you don't like them, you have to admit that cats are interesting creatures. Although they can be very animated and move silently at lightening speed, they spend about 20 hours out of every 24 sleeping. That is true not only of domestic cats, but also the big cats like lions and tigers. I didn't grow up with cats since my mom, for whatever reason, said she didn't like them. My wife, however, comes from a long line of "cat people." The first summer of our marriage I brought home an adorable kitten for her. Becka thought we should name her Elsa because she was free. (Think: Born Free....) It didn't take long till I was hooked. That kitten (and later cat) was just so much fun!

One reason some people don't like cats is that they don't understand that cats operate by a different set of laws from dogs. Maybe once those who don't like cats know what these laws are, they can appreciate cats more. But then again, these laws may clinch why cat haters don't like them. Anyway, here's a list of laws to which cats adhere, with an occasional personal story from my experience.

Cat Laws of Physics

Law of Cat Inertia
A cat at rest will tend to remain at rest, unless acted upon by some outside force, such as the opening of cat food, or a nearby scurrying mouse.

Law of Cat Motion
A cat will move in a straight line, unless there is a really good reason to change direction.

Law of Cat Magnetism
All blue blazers and black sweaters attract cat hair in direct proportion to the darkness of the fabric.
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Do You Understand Charts and Graphs?


picture of charts and graphs

Do you find charts and graphs more puzzling than helpful? As I was sitting at work yesterday (I started my summer job at IT Service Desk on Monday of this week), I looked at a flowchart taped to the wall and got an idea for a blog post. I hope that after reading today's post, you will either have a better understanding of how charts and graphs work, get a good laugh or two, or both.

My wife Becka says that she does not like pie charts. Here are several that I think are easy to understand.

If you are planning a road trip this summer, you might want to print this one out and keep it in the car to help you understand what's happening (or not happening) on the road ahead of you.

picture of chart or graph

If that chart was confusing to you, maybe this one will help you understand what pie charts are designed to help you understand.
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How Do We Measure Up?


picture of ruler

A family member called recently to ask my help in converting a measurement for some flooring they were getting ready to do. On the packaging the manufacturer had put the measurement in inches, rather than metric. That would have been helpful, had it not read 11.42 inches! Over the phone and through websites with conversion tables, we tried to figure out the closest fraction of an inch, rather than decimal of an inch. Crazy, huh?!

A reader sent me a picture of a sign that struck him funny in a grocery store:

picture of sign in grocery store

I wrote him back to say I wasn't able to read everything on the sign and so I wasn't sure what he was amused by. He wrote back to say that he found it amusing to say that they had 16 oz. pound cakes. If you live in a country that uses metric measurements, you might not get the humor in that (16 ounces = 1 pound).

Recently I came across a map of how Americans seem to view the world:

picture of world map

I also saw this map that shows how most of the world sees America:

picture of world map

With all of the preceding in mind, I remembered a classic iv that really should be part of my blog archives.

Useful Conversion Units:

2000 mockingbirds = two kilomockingbirds

Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi

2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton
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Falling Object Warning Signs


Do you ever go to Google and wonder what that day's Google picture means? Sometimes I know right away, but today I didn't. If you hover your cursor over the image, a tool tip tells you what it's about, or you can click on the image to go to a Google search for that day's feature. Below is today's image. Any guesses what Google is highlighting today?

picture of Google today

It's Sir Isaac Newton's 367th birthday! Happy happy, Isaac! I guess the significance today is that it's approximately one-third of a millennium? And the apples? Newton himself often told the story that he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree.

As I pondered Newton, gravity, and falling objects, I was reminded of our trips to and from Michigan past week and of the detour that was caused by a rockslide on I-40. According to the news reports, some of the rocks are the size of small houses, and the clean up will take several months. The detour added an hour to our trip each way, making a long trip even longer.

I'm posting today some pictures I have accumulated of signs warning of various falling objects. Try to retain all gravity as you view them.

Along the way we took seriously the signs warning us to watch for falling rock. The next two pictures make it clear it's a real danger.

picture of falling object sign

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