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USA Today, you are also on my list

It bothered me when USA Today, in an article celebrating “math holidays” centered on the numerology of certain dates, linked to a post I had written about how these holidays are stupid, without even mentioning my contrary opinion. However, I was willing to let it slide, since I was able to say that I was linked in an article from USA Today. Unfortunately, an article posted today is just too much. USA Today, you have officially made it onto my list.

The headline for the article really speaks for itself: “Rare time/date alignment could mean opportunities.” This refers to the fact that in the wee hours of the morning today, it was 4:05:06 on the date 07/08/09.

Money quote:

Although the alignment may not mean anything specific, it could be a good day to do something for yourself and others, said Betsy Carlson, a Palm Springs tarot card reader . . . → Read More: USA Today, you are also on my list

Ron Gordon, you are on my list

Not this again. I’ve now discovered that the mastermind behind these so-called math “holidays” is a teacher named Ron Gordon. Not only was he the one to spearhead the Odd Day initiative 2 months ago, but he’s gone so far as to double dip and call today Odd Day as well, citing the fact that standard date notation for most of the world is DD/MM/YY, rather than MM/DD/YY.

Thanks for double dipping, Mr. Gordon, so that I can read these pointless articles yet again. Mr. Gordon has even set up a web page and a contest, with cash prizes for those who can celebrate Odd Day the most enthusiastically. Needless to say, I don’t think I will be the recipient of any such prize.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Mr. Gordon. I’m just sayin’.

When will this stop?

Ok, now it’s just getting annoying. Odd day? Give me a break.

My thoughts on this irritating trend can be found here, here, and here.

Numerology Goes on Holiday (Again)

I made my reservations fairly clear regarding the double dose of math holidays last month. Despite my objections, I remained confident that the headlines they gathered would quickly fade away, and I wouldn’t have to worry about these faux math headlines for the next 12 months. In this way, I was able to sleep peacefully at night.

Unfortunately, it seems there are those who wish to disturb my slumber.

Dan Vergano over at USA Today recently wrote a brief article which highlighted the fact that this year there are a whopping 2 “square days,” one of which is today, 4/01/2009. The day is called a square day because if you read the date as a number, the number turns out to be square. In this case, 4,012,009 = 2003 * 2003.

The article attempts to be relevant by making a tenuous link between this sort of mathematical wizardry and the . . . → Read More: Numerology Goes on Holiday (Again)

Pi Day

Hot on the heels of Square Root Day comes Pi Day, a day held in honor of arguably the most famous mathematical constant, π. And like Square Root Day, I am forced to approach this holiday with a certain degree of hesitation.

There is no doubt that Pi Day is the most prestigious mathematical holiday, but this recognition usually only serves to illustrate the sad state of mathematical literacy in this country. For example, one year I remember reading a news article about Pi Day where the author described π as a number whose decimal expansion “was believed to go on forever.” Of course, belief has nothing to do with it – this is a simple consequence of the irrationality of π, a fact which is apparently lost amidst the pie eating hubbub of this holiday. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident – for as much as Pi . . . → Read More: Pi Day

Square Root Day?

I just noticed this article on the front page of Yahoo, which discusses the pending celebrations for tomorrow, in honor of the square root function. Tomorrow is given the name “Square Root Day,” naturally enough, because the date is 3/3/09. Seeing as how there are only 9 square root days per century, apparently the sparsity of this phenomenon is enough to make some people excited when such dates do occur. Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 3,996,0011/2.

I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but I’m not really sure who deemed this story worthy of inclusion on the front page of Yahoo. Similarly, I don’t know what it means when the article says that tomorrow’s “holiday” is met with great enthusiasm by “math buffs.” The article seems to suggest that a celebration like this falls within the realms of mathematics, when it more appropriately falls into the realm of . . . → Read More: Square Root Day?

Math Gets Around: Holiday Treats

At this time of year, many people push their studies to the side in favor of roasted animals and pie. However, the activities of enlarging your waistline and mastering some mathematics need not be mutually exclusive. For evidence of this claim, I need only turn your attention to the culmination of thousands of years of human evolution: the Pecan Pie-cosahedron.

Pecans + math = crazy delicious.

This masterful work of craftsmanship was created by an individual known by the pseudonym of turkey tek over at The pie is so named because it has the shape of an icosahedron, arguably the most beautiful of the five1 Platonic Solids (so named because of the Greek philosopher, not because the solids are just good friends). Even better, this isn’t turkey tek’s first foray into mathematically inspired baked goods: also on display is the formiddable Giant Fractal Pecan Pie.

Yes, even pie . . . → Read More: Math Gets Around: Holiday Treats

Math Goes Trick or Treating

Update (Octoboer 2010): 2010 costume ideas can be found here!

Update (October 2009): I’ve written a follow-up article with more math themed costume ideas.

With Halloween but a few short days away, many of you with a love for both dress-up and mathematics are probably thinking hard about what you should be this year. I thought it would be fun to find some good math inspired Halloween costumes using the transformative power of the internet, but unfortunately there really wasn’t much to get excited about. After spending some time scouring, the only costume ideas that were even tangentially related to math that I could find were the following:

1) Nerd Costume Kit

By far the most offensive of these costume choices. Of course, this offers a broader stereotype than that of the mathematician, but the mathematician and the nerd trade at about the same cultural currency value.

What’s most disappointing . . . → Read More: Math Goes Trick or Treating