3/06/2010

A head scratcher


I've been reading Astropixie off and on since before she was Dr. Astropixie, back when we were both just speedracers and Scientists United for the Global Advancement of Awesomeness (gimme some SUGAA!). Well, SUGAA has faded from view, and the speedracers are napping, but Astropixie is still going strong, frequently posting little bits of scientific awesomeness. A couple of weeks ago, she posted a painting by Nikola Bogdanov-Belsky (Counting in Their Heads, 1895, at right). It features a group of kids working through a math problem in their head.

Now I love doing mental calculations and estimations. I recall once mentally calculating with my roommate the number of silver dollars that would fit within the space occupied by the First Wisconsin Building (now the US Bank building, and soon to be the site of my fundraising climb to benefit the American Lung Association. Sponsor me here!) I don't remember the number we got, but I enjoyed the process... the mental calisthenics. So, when Astropixie challenged her readers to answer the chalkboard question themselves, I leapt at the challenge. Here's the calculation the kids are working:












I'm amazed to report that I actually got the correct answer - calculating in my head, and without taking notes! Given my poor memory, I never thought 'd make it. But the most amazing thing is the answer. I'll put it in the comments on the blog website. But give it a try first, see if you can do it.


The big question then: Is this an indicator of something? Or maybe of some other thing? I'm guessing not. Perhaps it's just a warning that not all beatufiul answers need be significant.

1 comment:

The Fishmonger said...

The answer, for those too lazy to even punch it into a calculator, is equivalent to the circumferance of a circle, divided by pi, divided by the circle's radius. What?!? Oh fine... it's two.

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