One of the cooler, and more counter-intuitive, bits of statistics I know of concerns the question: “If your doctor performs a 95% reliable test on you, and it says you have a disease, how worried should you be?” (Spoiler alert: not as much as you think.)
Problem: you want to make coffee. In front of you is a coffee maker with freshly-ground coffee, and filled with water. It is turned off. What do you do? Answer: define a mapping from coffee to tea, thus reducing the problem to a previous joke.
Call me easily amused, but I thought it was funny that if you search Google Maps for Florida, the green arrow points at the Gulf of Mexico (and the one for Michigan points at Lake Michigan). Even better, if you search for Maryland, the arrow points at Virginia.
One of the departments at work is moving offices around, so there are piles of junk in the hallways, some of it cool, most of it not. One thing I picked up was a Gerber Variable Scale, invented by H. Joseph Gerber as a more elegant solution to an engineering problem that had originally required… Continue reading Retro-Toy
HT to for pointing me at Math Doesn’t Suck, by Danica McKellar. It’s a math book aimed at middle- and high school girls. The main message seem to be a) math doesn’t suck, and isn’t as hard as you think it is, and b) if you’re smart, don’t hide it. Both worthwhile messages. I haven’t… Continue reading Math for Middle-School Girls
I was just thinking of the phrase “lowest common denominator” in the sense of something lowbrow that appeals to the unwashed masses, rather than something refined. And it occurred to me that in math, the lowest common denominator of a group of (natural) numbers is always going to be 1. What’s more interesting is the… Continue reading Lowest Common Denominator
(Update, Aug. 6, 2007: Hey, this post appears in the 51st Philosophers’ Carnival. And I didn’t even submit it. How cool is that?) I didn’t think it was possible to write a Christian math textbook. I mean, math is math, right? But this comment at Pharyngula pointed to an article in Harpers that purports to… Continue reading Fundamentalist Math
I’m reading Douglas Hofstadter’s I Am A Strange Loop, and there’s something that doesn’t sit well with me. In Chapter 4, he discusses his fascination with self-reference and feedback loops of all kinds. He talks about the operation of a toilet, in which water enters the tank, which raises the floater, which in turn cuts… Continue reading This Article Is About Self-Reference and Complexity (but This Title Isn’t)
Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes. — Edsger Dijkstra Math is no more about equations than music is about staves and sharps. — me
There’s a stock market scam that goes something like this: make a list of 1024 people, and send them an “investment newsletter”. The copy sent to the first 512 people says that a particular stock will go up; the other 512 get a copy that says that that stock will go down. Let’s say it… Continue reading Stock Scams and Pascal’s Triangle