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WITandWISDOM(tm) - July 22, 2003
"If you don't have a sense of humor, it isn't funny." - Fr. Theophane
Submitted by John L. Bechtel
~~~~~~~ SPECIAL THOUGHTS:
~~~~~~~ THIS & THAT:
Sunday July 6, 2003
Things You Always Wanted to Know about Numbers
If your precocious nine-year old daughter asked you to place one penny on the first square of a chessboard, two pence on the second square, four pence on the third, and so on, you would need to put £92 million billion on the 64th and final square.
Prime numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 13 and so on ...) are divisible only by themselves and the number one. The largest prime number yet discovered has 2,098,960 digits. If we were to print nothing except this number across all sections of today's and next week's Observers (containing around 250,000 words in each issue) we could just about fit the number in.
You would need just four colors to fill in the map of the world so that no two neighboring countries ever have the same color. And no matter how you redraw the borders, four colors will always be enough.
Abstract mathematics were a mystery to the Western world until the introduction of the number zero from Arabia in the tenth century. The concept was first proposed by the mathematician and astronomer Muhammad Bin Ahmad in 967 AD. Numbers had, until that point, been used to count, not to reason, and the idea of having zero goats, for example, was a nonsense - you either had something, or you didn't. But while, as a result, we call our system of numbers Arabic numbers, in the Arab world the numerals are called Indian numbers because they originated further east still.
3.141... Much of physics depends on the number of Pi, celebrated on 14 March (3/14) by American maths fans. It measures the ratio between a circle's circumference and its diameter and is a number which continues without end. Lancashire taxi driver Tom Morton's attempt to break the British record by reciting Pi's first 20,014 numbers, in sequence, failed after 15,220 digits due to a typo on his revision notes. Japanese researchers have calculated Pi to 1.2411 trillion places. Late at night, mathematical philosophers like to ponder 'What shape would a circle be if Pi were exactly 3?'
Infinity is the largest number of all. Except, of course, for infinity plus one.
For these and more visit:
Submitted by Sherri Rimmer
~~~~~~~ KEEP SMILING:
At a recent computer software engineering course, the participants were given an awkward question to answer:
"If you had just boarded an airliner and discovered that your team of programmers had been responsible for the flight control software, how many of you would disembark immediately?"
Among the ensuing forest of raised hands only one man sat motionless. When asked what he would do, he replied that he would be quite content to stay aboard. With his team's software, he said, the plane was unlikely to even taxi as far as the runway, let alone take off.
Source: Chapnotes, http://www.chaplainsnotes.org/
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Subm itted by Beth Freitas