20 Questions Tuesday: 43 - By the Numbers

I have done letters so now it is on to the venerable topic of numbers. Many people think that since I am a math major I am all knowledgeable about numbers. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am increasingly more unfamiliar with numbers. So today’s topic was an interesting one for me to try and answer. I have to answer well enough to seem like I haven’t forgotten all that much, but, you see, I have.

Thanks this week to Lord Pithy, Lsig, Tree Monkey, Dr B-Dawg, JW, WV Slim, and ACW.

To the questions!

1. a. If 1 is the loneliest number, and two can be as bad as 1 (it's the loneliest number since the number 1), what is 471?
b. If, as songs would have us believe, One is the loneliest number and Three is the Magic number, what is Two?
c. The Beatles claimed that one was the loneliest number, but it really seems to be better than say 3, 5, 7 in terms of the effect of the group dynamic on your un-coupledness. So shouldn't there a better mathematical development such as:
L = 1 - N/N!
According to this little guy: 1 and 2 have a loneliness factor of 0. As the number of people increase, the loneliness factor increases also. For even numbers the loneliness factor isn't zero. I'm guessing that this reflects jealousy or the desire to be with someone in the group than with the current partner. Interestingly, 11 is the plateau number. So, in a group with a minimum of 11, that is when you are truly the loneliest. Thoughts?
a. According to part c, 471 has an L value that is almost equal to 1. So 471 is significantly lonely.
b. Two can be as bad as 1 (as stated above), but 2 is only lonely if the 2 are not together or have been for a looooooooooong time.
c. The basic premise of your function is not valid. The function you describe is asymptotic to
L = 1 – (1/(N-1)!)
Your premise is that as you add people, loneliness increases. That just does not hold true. Sure there is a capping function where loneliness kicks back in because as more people are added the individual relationships break down. I would suggest something more along the lines of L = 1 – ((N+1)!/(N-1)^N)). It is still asymptotic towards 1, but there is more fluctuation. In this instance 2 and 3 are more lonely than 1, but what the heck.

2. There are word problems in math; give me an example of a math problem in grammar.
Too plus too equals FORE!!!!

3. If you have three apples, and I take three apples away, what law of capitalism have you failed to uphold?
Retention of my personal property. I am charging interest on those apples, by the way. They were not a gift. Oh, I am all about the usery.

4. What is funny about 72?
Oh, 97 knows. Oh yes, 97 knows indeed. Let's just say it involves coughing, penguins, blue painters tape, and an artichoke.

5. How many pickled peppers could a woodchuck chuck?
18, but that is "up-chuck".

6. Aesthetically, I think 8 is the nicest-looking number. Do you have a favorite?
I like 9 when it is hand-written.

7. Why, if numbers are so cool, did mathematicians decide to start using letters in algebra? Other than to totally confuse the math illiterate, of course.
Mathematicians needed place holders, and the most denigrating thing they could do to languagey people was make their symbols empty and meaningless.

8. What’s your lucky number?

9. What number(s) seem to recur for you in phone numbers, DL#, zips,...
8’s, 5’s, and 7’s

10. Why didn't natural selection gives us 12 fingers and 12 toes. Was there someone with 12 fingers and toes (let’s call him Chad)? Did we remove Chad from the herd because of his smug superiority? If, for some reason, the base-ten numbering system had to be abolished, what would you advocate in its place?
Chad was a jerk. All uppity with his counting more than others.
Oddly (not in honor of Chad... he was suck a jerk!) I would go with a base 6 or base 12 system. We already use it for circles and calendars.

11. Have you seen spiderman 3 yet?
Nope, I will see it when it makes it to TBS in a year and a half.

12. What is the number of merit badges that you earned?
I think it was 21

13. What is the Historic/religious significance of pi 3.14?
Mmmmm pie…. I’m sorry what was the question again?

14. What is the highest number that little man can count to?
He has on occasion gotten to 17. he typically stumbles around 11, and 12.

15. Who sang "Baby Don't Forget my Number" since it wasn’t really Milli Vanilli?
Brad Howell and John Davis (not of Garfield fame)

16. What do you think is the biggest number people are willing to pay for a gallon of gas?

17. What's up with that magic number in nature....the Golden Ratio. Do you think it hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe?
It is all about measuring stuff and comparing it. It is pretty impressive when you see how many things in nature have that ratio, and how many unrelated things seem to have the ratio embedded within them as well. I do not, however, think that it is a key to unlocking the secrets of the universe, I think it is a proportion that has some evolutionary merit for movement and balance.

18. How do you feel about you age? Are you where you thought you would be?
I really feel pretty okay with my age. 32 is not as bad as I thought it would be. I am moderately active. I only have a few chronic aches and pains. Little Man is not surprisingly old for my age. I guess I am about where I thought I would be around now.

19. Please explain the chaos theory. Who is that guy Mandelbrot (he is quite the looker)?
Chaos theory is more aptly defined as non-linear dynamic systems. It is where you use the output of an equation as the input for the next step of the equation. So an equation like X =|(N^N)-1| in linear terms goes along like (0, 0, 3, 26, 63, …..), but non-linearly it depends on what number you start with. If you start with 0, it goes (1, 0, 1, 0,1,……). This system is considered non-choatic for the numbers 0, and 1, but chaotic for 2 and above. That is one of the basics of chaos theory without looking at the stuff holistically.

Looking at non-linear dynamic systems as a “big picture” you find that technically chaotic things tend to follow a certain amount of pattern and while they cannot be exactly predicted there is a pattern to the systems that can be predicted.

Mandlebrot, was the first person to “map” all the quadratic functions tendencies towards chaotic systems. Summarily, the Mandlebrot set is that map.

20. To graduate as a math major did you have to complete some kind of freaky proof?
Nope, I just had to do some coursework. Had I continued on and gotten a masters in mathematics, I would have had to do some more intricate studying and proofing.


21. Why is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. That bastard ate 9! Do you hear me, 7 went all Hannibal on 9!

22. Come on, who really thought the elf from The Santa Claus would be able to solve crimes using some highly improbable math?!
Not me. I love math and I couldn’t get into Numb3rs.

23 Why can you "play with the numbers" to get something to make sense, but you can't "play with the letters" to finish a report?
That is a good question, and one for which I do not have an answer.

To recap:
I am quite tired today
And sore
Stupid exercising
I couldn’t sleep at all last night
Doot doot doo doo doo doot
I think the room was too hot
That doesn’t bode well for this evening
It is going to be much warmer today
Little Man ate 3 plates of spaghetti last night
He isn’t a boy, he’s an eatin’ machine