What happens if you start 32 metronomes at different times on a stable surface? Not much. They'll tick-tock out of sync until the cows come home. But what happens when you start the same 32 metronomes on an unfixed surface? You get to witness a nifty (and mesmerizing) example of coupled oscillations. Watch and learn.
Courtesy Victor van WerkhoovenWhat are the most popular PIN numbers people use? What are the least? How can you best ensure that your PIN is something crooks would have a lesser chance of figuring out? This is a pretty neat report that talks about what works, and what doesn't, when selecting a personal identification number to use with some financial or electronic devices. You'd be surprised how often people commonly make mistakes that lead to easy uncovering of their PINs.
Vi Hart and Khan Academy, both amazing online resources for mathematical inspiration and intuition, have decided to combine their efforts. Here is their official announcement:
Courtesy JGordonThe human body is more or less the density of water: 1000 kg per cubic meter. (I tend to sink, so I'm probably a little denser, but I think we're close enough here.)
I weigh about 150 pounds, or 68 kg (2.2 pounds per kilogram).
1000kg / 1m^3 = 68kg / ?m^3
? = .068
So the volume of my body is about 0.068 cubic meters.
Each cubic meter equals about 35.3146667 cubic feet.
.068 x 35.315 = 2.401
So the volume of my body is about 2.401 cubic feet
My file drawer is 1 foot wide by 9 inches high (or .75 feet) by 2 feet and 2 inches deep (or 2.167 feet)
1 x .75 x 2.167 = 1.62525
So the volume of my desk drawer is 1.62525 cubic feet
1.62525 < 2.401
So the answer is NO. If you were to blend me up in a giant food processor, and then pour me into my file drawer, I would literally be overflowing.
That's sort of a relief.
Then again, it depends on how much denser I am than water. Maybe I would fit.
Courtesy jimmowatt "101010 (base two (binary)) equals 42 (base ten). Oddly enough, this is evenly divisible by the number of days in a week (7 (lucky)); and equally oddly, is also evenly divisible by the number 6 (which is generally designated as being unlucky). Both a Ying and Yang situation seem to be incorporated into this date." HubPages.com
10 (base ten) = 1010 (base two)
(base ten): 10 x 10 = 100
(base two): 10 x 10 = 100
In Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the
"Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything" was 42.
Courtesy Theresa Thompson
Winston Churchill once quipped, "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." Though said tongue-in-cheek, a recent article in New Scientist shows that, mathematically at least, Winnie was on to something.
Every election has winners and losers. Different countries have different systems for determining the winners, and dealing with the losers. And, it turns out, each of those systems has mathematical quirks which prevent the results from perfectly matching the will of the people.
In 1963, American economist Kenneth Arrow considered all these quirks and tried to describe the perfect voting system. He then proved that it was mathematically impossible. (Of course, this assumes the system he described really is perfect--I'm not so sure.)
It seems to me, though, that the problem isn't with democracy, but rather with representative democracy. The people of Minnesota elect only one governor, only one senator (at a time). And there's no way one person is going to perfectly reflect public opinion--be 53% in favor of issue A and 61% opposed to issue B. And even if they were, they still have to make a series of yes-or-no decisions, and be either 100% for 100% against any given bill.
The only way to have a perfect democracy is to have everybody vote on every issue, a system that would be far too cumbersome to work. Churchill was right: democracy is messy, but it's the best thing we've got.
Courtesy Ian Hampton
There's been a lot of news lately about "unintended acceleration" -- cars suddenly gaining high speed and drivers unable to stop them. Some observers question whether the problem lies with the car or with the driver. But whatever the cause, unintended acceleration is a deadly danger to the driving public.
Or is it?
Popular Mechanics crunched the numbers. They found unintended acceleration causes 3.2 deaths per year. This compares to:
If you find your car accelerating, slam on the brakes, throw it into neutral, and steer to the side of the road. But don't waste time worrying about it. Instead, you should spend your effort avoiding bad weather, distractions, and above all not driving under the influence.
Courtesy gr8mattResearchers at the University fo Chicago have published a new report in PNAS that shows math anxiety in elementary school teachers (which are predominantly female) is passed on to the young girls in their classes. The research is reported on the Smithsonian's Surprising Science blog site.