Science & Math

Concentrated Yuck

The bitterest thing in the world is denatonium, a compound discovered by Scottish researchers in 1958. Most people find its taste unbearable even in dilutions of 10 parts per million.

A New York chemist once went home with a trace of denatonium saccharide on his lip. He kissed his wife and she almost threw up.

Math Notes

1 + 4 + 5 + 8 = 18
18 × 81 = 1458

1 + 7 + 2 + 9 = 19
19 × 91 = 1729

The Eye of Sauron

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fomalhaut_with_Disk_Ring_and_extrasolar_planet_b.jpg

The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat’s, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.

That’s a quote from The Fellowship of the Ring, but this image is actually a star. Fomalhaut, 25 light-years away, is one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Draw your own conclusions.

DCLXVI

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is fear of the number 666, which is linked to Satan and the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation.

Unfortunately, it’s rather hard to avoid. 666 is the sum of the squares of the first seven primes:

666 = 22 + 32 + 52 + 72 + 112 + 132 + 172

Also:

666 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 567 + 89

= 123 + 456 + 78 + 9

= 9 + 87 + 6 + 543 + 21

= 13 + 23 + 33 + 43 + 53 + 63 + 53 + 43 + 33 + 23 + 13

In 1989, after his second term as president, Ronald and Nancy Reagan moved to a new home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles. They had the address, 666 St. Cloud Road, changed to 668 St. Cloud Road.

Math Notes

102 + 112 + 122 = 132 + 142

More Magic

If this magic square worked upside down, this one works when reversed, “mirrorwise”:

96 64 37 45
39 43 98 62
84 76 25 57
23 59 82 78
54 73 46 69
26 89 34 93
75 52 67 48
87 28 95 32

Fancy That

31415926535897932384626433832795028841 is a prime number.

It’s also the first 38 digits of pi.

“Self-Locating” Strings

In the decimal expansion for pi, the digits 16470 appear in position 16,470.

And the digits 44899 appear in position 44,899.

Math Notes

37 = 32 + 72 – 3 × 7 = (33 + 73)/(3 + 7)

Cosmic Irony

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:61-MR4-76.jpg

In 1961, astronaut Gus Grissom nearly drowned after a splashdown when his Mercury capsule opened prematurely. He recommended making the hatch more secure.

Eight years later he died when Apollo 1 caught fire. The hatch had prevented his escape.

Juvenile Chemistry

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arsole-3D-vdW.png

This compound, C4H5As, is known as arsole.

When it’s fused to a benzene ring, it’s called benzarsole.

No, I’m not above pointing that out.

Math Notes

371 = 33 + 73 + 13

Math Notes

5882 + 23532 = 5882353

The Haberdasher’s Problem

Can you make three cuts in a square of cloth and rearrange the pieces to form an equilateral triangle?

Fallow and Fertile

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:D%C3%BCrer_Melancholia_I.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_Melencolia_I_(detail).jpg

Albrecht Dürer’s Melancholia I might brood about thwarted creativity, but it contains one of the most brilliant magic squares in all of European art.

You can reach the sum of 34 by adding the numbers in any row, column, diagonal, or quadrant; the four center squares; the four corner squares; the four numbers clockwise from the corners; or the four counterclockwise.

As a bonus, the two numbers in the middle of the bottom row give the date of the engraving: 1514.

Math Notes

0588235294117647 × 1 = 0588235294117647
0588235294117647 × 8 = 4705882352941176
0588235294117647 × 3 = 1764705882352941
0588235294117647 × 2 = 1176470588235294
0588235294117647 × 7 = 4117647058823529
0588235294117647 × 5 = 2941176470588235
0588235294117647 × 9 = 5294117647058823
0588235294117647 × 6 = 3529411764705882
0588235294117647 × 4 = 2352941176470588

Overtime

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Victoria_crater_from_HiRise.jpg

Victoria Crater, on Mars. The black dot on the rim, at about the 10 o’clock position, is the Mars rover Opportunity. Expected to fail after 90 days, it has been exploring faithfully for more than three years.

Not So Fast

n2n + 41 produces prime numbers for all integers from 0 to 40 — but it fails when n equals 41.

Suburban Physics

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Balloons-aj.svg

You’re driving a car. The windows are closed. In the back seat is a kid holding a helium balloon.

You turn right. You and the kid sway to the left. What does the balloon do?

Click for Answer

Math Notes

25 × 92 = 2592

Math Notes

13 + 53 + 33 = 153

The Beverly Clock

In the foyer of the Department of Physics at New Zealand’s University of Otago is a clock that has been running continuously since 1864. The “Beverly Clock” is driven by variations in atmospheric pressure and by daily temperature variations, so it never needs winding.

Relax

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asteroidimpact.jpg

On March 23, 1989, a 1,000-foot asteroid missed the Earth by 400,000 miles.

If it had passed 6 hours earlier it would have struck us, creating the largest explosion in recorded history.

Math Notes

42 = 24