Friday, December 15, 2017
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Sorites Paradox or the Paradox of the Heap Something new to do when you are building summer sand castles. Tuning fork by John Walker stamped with note (E) and frequency in hertz (659) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) If you remove one grain of sand at a time, when does a heap of sand stop being a heap? Though this is a philosophy question, not strictly a math activity, my son, who double-majored in math and philosophy, tells me that eventually the two disciplines come together. Sorites, for Sorites paradox, is named for the Greek word for heap, soros. The Sorites paradoxes are attributed to a Greek philosopher... (Read More ...)

  Illustration from the play Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Jessie Braham White, Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, Edmond W Rickett, and Charles Buckles Falls. The caption read: “Here for nearly a year they have watched over and night”, this has been stripped in this derivative for transcription at another place. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Millions of Cats, Wanda Ga’g’s first children’s book, (1893 – 1946), was released in 1928. This must be the first place we heard, “millions and billions and trillions” that now is associated with the number of stars, as popularized by... (Read More ...)

The Whole Earth Catalog, first published in July, 1968, then published regularly until 1972 and irregularly until 1998, is a catalog of tools, with information about how to order them directly from the manufacturers. Fall 1969 cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Its founder, Stewart Brand, believed that information about the best tools would help people achieve independence in their lives. I have a yellowed copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog: Access to Tools, published in November, 1971. It won the first U.S. National Book Award for Contemporary Affairs, the first time a catalog had won such an award. I... (Read More ...)

How did you get your Grandma name? William Merritt Going to see Grandma (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Many new or about-to-be grandmas tell me they are not going to pick their Grandma name. They are going to wait for the first grandchild to pick a name for them. They do this in hopes they will have a story to tell about how they got their name. One Grandma I talked to recently said that her children were trying to get the new baby to call her Grandma, though she was waiting for her grandson to come up with something on his own. He started with Bink, since he couldn’t pronounce Grandma, but his parents... (Read More ...)

What Is Title IX? Tiger Stadium (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Title IX (pronounced Title Nine), part of the Education Amendments of 1972, became law on June 23, 1972. Why? When I was in elementary school, there were sports programs for both boys and girls. But, by high school, it was the boys’ sports programs, primarily football and basketball, that got all the support of the school, and, apparently, the money. Girls, except for physical education class, largely dropped out of sports after sixth grade. Title IX said, “Not so fast, schools. Where are your competitive sports teams for girls? And,... (Read More ...)

On June 11, 1982, days before my younger son turned three, the movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, was released. E.T.’s Communicator from the film E.T. Taken at Universal Studios Hollywood. (Photo credit: WikipedThe two brothers in the movie were six years apart. My own boys 11 years apart. Themes from this science fiction movie included: Friendship across different backgrounds Hiding stuff from your Mom Taking care of people both physically and emotionally Accepting the fact that you aren’t going to understand everything, like a bike that flies Government officials and scientists can do... (Read More ...)

Magic Square 4×4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Magic Squares: Even Do you know what a magic square is? It is a grid of numbers that add up to the same number whether you add up all the numbers across a row, or down a column, or diagonally. You can make your own. Let’s start with an even number of columns and rows in the square. We will make one with 4 rows and 4 columns, a grid design that is also described as 4×4 (four by four). Materials: Paper Pens or pencils Ruler or straight edge Instructions: Draw a grid that has four rows and four columns. Put numbers in each square of the grid,... (Read More ...)

Do you still have Betamax movies lying around? The case centered around Sony’s manufacture of the Betamax VCR, which used cassettes like this to store potentially copyrighted information (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I’ve never been an early adopter for the sake of having the latest technical toys on the block. I didn’t buy one of the first videocassette recorders (VCRs), which started coming out in 1972, with the introduction of a home VCR by Phillips. The ones our friends bought were clunky and awkward and had much poorer image resolution than their tv screens. Sure, it was cool that they... (Read More ...)

Last week, readers spent the most time on: A blank Betamax casette next to a blank VHS cassette for size comparison. Taken and edited by senork on 9/25/2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Memorial Day When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand How Long Is the Mississippi River? We’re Going to the Moon Grandparents. Poems. Loss. Last month, readers spent the most time on: Popcorn and Crowds When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand Who Invented the Computer Mouse? How Do You Make a Strong Toothpick Bridge? Memorial Day Coming up next week: Did you have Betamax? Monday, June 3, 2013  Do you... (Read More ...)

 Scatter plot. As long as my grandson has been willing to play around with graphs recently, we have been trying to come up with more things to graph. A scatter plot with trend line of baby age to height. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) After we graphed the number of letters in state names and the size of states in area and population, we turned to rivers and created scatter plots. One of the things I found out in all this graphing activity is that you have to figure out how many lines you have available on your graph paper, in both directions, across the top and up the side. Then, find out the highest... (Read More ...)