In English, every odd number contains the letter e.
Between the 762nd and 767th decimal places of pi there are six 9s in a row.
It’s called the Feynman point, because physicist Richard Feynman said he’d like to recite 761 digits and end with “… nine, nine, nine, nine, nine, nine, and so on.”
32 + 42 = 52
33 + 43 + 53 = 63
2646798 = 21 + 62 + 43 + 64 + 75 + 96 + 87
The world’s slowest science experiment is the “pitch drop experiment” at the University of Queensland. In 1927, physics professor Thomas Parnell poured some pitch into a funnel to see how long it would take to drip out. Pitch is pretty viscous: When Parnell died in 1948, only two drops had fallen.
The experiment is still going on. The eighth drop fell on Nov. 28, 2000, allowing experimenters to calculate that the pitch has a viscosity about 100 billion times that of water.
Famous people with HIV:
- Isaac Asimov
- Roy Cohn
- Michel Foucault
- Greg Louganis
- Robert Mapplethorpe
- Rudolph Nureyev
- Anthony Perkins
This is a jaglion, a cross between a jaguar and a lion. Big cats interbreed pretty easily, which makes for some confusing nomenclature.
Cross a lion with a tiger and you get a liger or a tigon, depending on the parents’ sexes. Cross a leopard with a jaguar and you’ll get a jagulep or a lepjag. And if you cross a puma with a leopard you get the magnificently named pumapard.
You can even make hybrids of your hybrids. Cross your new jagulep with a lion you’ll have a lijagulep. Keep going and eventually you can make liards, jaguatigers, doglas, leotigs, tigards, tiguars, and liguars.
And theoretically, if you crossed a jaguar with a tigress … you’d get a jagger. Hmmm.
No one knows much about Diophantus, the Greek mathematician, but in the sixth century a math puzzle purported to give his epitaph:
“This tomb holds Diophantus. Ah, what a marvel! And the tomb tells scientifically the measure of his life. God vouchsafed that he should be a boy for the sixth part of his life; when a twelfth was added, his cheeks acquired a beard; He kindled for him the light of marriage after a seventh, and in the fifth year after his marriage He granted him a son. Alas! late-begotten and miserable child, when he had reached the measure of half his father’s [total] life, the chill grave took him. After consoling his grief by this science of numbers for four years, he reached the end of his life.”
At what age did he die?
Martin Kallikak was a youthful soldier in the Revolutionary War. At a tavern frequented by the militia he met a feeble-minded girl by whom he became the father of a feeble-minded son. In 1912 there were 480 known direct descendants of this temporary union. It is known that 36 of these were illegitimates; that 33 were sexually immoral; that 24 were confirmed alcoholics; and that 8 kept houses of ill-fame. The explanation of so much immorality will be obvious when it is stated that of the 480 descendants 143 were known to be feeble-minded, and that many of the others were of questionable mentality.
A few years after returning from the war this same Martin Kallikak married a respectable girl of good family. From this union 496 individuals have been traced in direct descent, and in this branch of the family there were no illegitimate children, no immoral women, and only one man who was sexually loose. There were no criminals, no keepers of houses of ill-fame, and only two confirmed alcoholics. Again the explanation is clear when it is stated that this branch of the family did not contain a single feeble-minded individual. It was made up of doctors, lawyers, judges, educators, traders, and landholders.
– From Mental Defectives and Sexual Offenders, report of a committee appointed by New Zealand’s minister of health, 1925
Decimal arithmetic is a contrivance of man for computing numbers, and not a property of time, space, or matter. It belongs essentially to the keeping of accounts, but is merely an incident to the transactions of trade. Nature has no partiality for the number 10; and the attempt to shackle her freedom with them [decimal gradations], will for ever prove abortive.
– John Quincy Adams, recommending against the metric system in 1821, as reported in Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal, May 15, 1852
Psychological diagnoses of inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood, according to an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2000:
- Winnie-the-Pooh: ADHD, inattentive subtype; OCD (provisional diagnosis); borderline intellectual functioning (Very Little Brain)
- Piglet: Generalized anxiety disorder
- Eeyore: Dysthymic disorder
- Rabbit: Narcissistic personality disorder
- Owl: Reading disorder
- Tigger: ADHD, hyperactivity-impulsivity subtype
“Pooh needs intervention,” the authors conclude. “We feel drugs are in order. We cannot but wonder how much richer Pooh’s life might be were he to have a trial of low-dose stimulant medication. With the right supports, including methylphenidate, Pooh might be fitter and more functional and perhaps produce (and remember) more poems.”
Tom’s Restaurant, famous as the diner in Seinfeld, shares a building with the Goddard Institute of Space Studies in Manhattan.
“The Eiffel Tower as a Colossal Lightning Conductor,” photograph taken June 3, 1902, by M.G. Loppé. Published in the Bulletin de la Société Astronomique de France, May 1905.
Some paleontologists have a sense of humor. When Jenny Clack of the University of Cambridge discovered a fossil amphibian in the bed of an ancient swamp, she named it Eucritta melanolimnetes.
That’s Greek for “the creature from the black lagoon.”
In most lists of numbers, the leading digit 1 occurs about 30 percent of the time.
That’s Benford’s Law, named for the American physicist Frank Benford. It’s surprising, but it’s true, and it applies to most statistics relating to society and the natural world, from street addresses to the lengths of rivers.
It can even be used to detect fraud. When people make up lists of numbers, they tend to use too few leading 1s.
Tyrannosaurus rex closed its jaws with a force of 4 tons, the strongest bite of any dinosaur.
Only three nations have not switched officially to the metric system: Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States.
In 1994, 17-year-old Boy Scout David Hahn decided to build a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard shed in Michigan. He gathered radioactive material from smoke detectors, camping lanterns, clocks and gunsights, hoping to transform them into fissionable isotopes in a hollowed-out block of lead.
He should have stuck to homework. The experiment started to emit toxic levels of radiation, and he was trying to dismantle it when the police found him and brought in the FBI and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. To his mother’s dismay, her property was declared a Superfund hazardous materials cleanup site, and the shed was moved to Utah and buried as low-level radioactive waste.
On the bright side, Hahn made Eagle Scout.
An optical illusion.
The parallel lines are straight.
In 1979 University of Minnesota psychologist Thomas J. Bouchard studied a pair of twins, Jim Lewis and Jim Springer, who had been separated at birth. Here’s what he found on interviewing them at age 39:
- Both men had had first wives named Linda, divorced them and married women named Betty.
- Lewis named his first son James Alan; Springer named his James Allan.
- Both named their dogs Toy.
- Both had worked as gas station attendants and for the same hamburger chain.
- They drove the same type of car and bought the same brands of cigarettes and beer.
- They regularly took annual vacations at the same Florida resort.
- Both disliked baseball but enjoyed stock-car racing and woodwork.
- Both gained and lost weight at the same age, bit their fingernails compulsively and had had a minor heart attack.
- Both suffered from migraines.
“Our findings continue to suggest a very strong genetic influence on almost all medical and psychological traits,” Bouchard said. After an extensive study of separated twins, he concluded that shyness, political conservatism, dedication to hard work, orderliness, intimacy, extroversion, conformity, and a number of other social traits are largely heritable.
The coelacanth, a prehistoric fish, was thought to have died out 65 million years ago — until a museum curator noticed one in a South African fish catch in 1938.
When a second specimen appeared in 1952, prime minister Daniel François Malan exclaimed, “Why, it’s ugly! Is this where we come from?”
If you want to be really, really alone, head for 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W in the South Pacific Ocean. That’s “Point Nemo,” the point in the ocean farthest from any land. You’ll be in the middle of 22,405,411 square kilometers of ocean, an area larger than the entire former Soviet Union.
The point on land farthest from any ocean is at 46°16.8′N 86°40.2′E, outside the Chinese city of Urumqi, in the Dzoosotoyn Elisen Desert. It’s 1,645 miles from the nearest coastline.
Dr. Beeton, in a letter to Dr. Mitchill of New York, dated 19th of July, 1824, states, that the beech tree (that is, the broad leaved or American variety of Fagus sylvatiea,) is never known to be assailed by atmospheric electricity. So notorious, he says, is this fact, that in Tennessee, it is considered almost an impossibility to be struck by lightning, if protection be sought under the branches of a beech tree. Whenever the sky puts on a threatening aspect, and the thunder begins to roll, the Indians leave their pursuit, and betake themselves to the shelter of the nearest beech tree, till the storm pass over; observation having taught these sagacious children of nature, that, while other trees are often shivered to splinters, the electric fluid is not attracted by the beech. Should farther observation establish the fact of the non-conducting quality of the American beech, great advantage may evidently be derived from planting hedge rows of such trees around the extensive barn yards in which cattle are kept, and also in disposing groups and single trees in ornamental plantations in the neighbourhood of the dwelling houses of the owners.
– New Monthly Magazine, quoted in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, July 14, 1827
2002 was a palindrome year — it reads the same forward and backward.
They occur only once a century. The next one will be 2112.