I posted recently about Christmas math, but in digging around it turns out that there is more out there than I’d realized (and I also found a Hanukkah Math Song, so check back Dec 21, 2008!). Here are some more Christmas math tidbits, including one from the TV series Futurama:
- There’s the Christmas Stocking Theorem (also called the hockey puck theorem) which references a pattern in Pascal’s Triangle.
- Apparently there’s a whole slew of items you can buy that say for the mathematicians in your life. Or you could just ask them “What’s purple, round, and doesn’t get much for Christmas?”*
- The blog Let’s play math! has a post on Christmas math puzzles and activities with interesting links geared towards younger mathematicians.
- And finally, in Season 2 of Futurama, Bender gets a card which reads MERRY XMAS SON #1729 (see screen shot here). The number 1729 was made famous by a story that G. H. Hardy told about Srinivasa Ramanujan in his book Ramanujan (published in 1940):
I remember once going to see him when he was lying ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. “No,” he replied, “it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.”
(1729 can be written as or as .)
As an aside, in the recent movie Bender’s Big Score the number on the taxicab is 87539319, which can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in three different ways: or (Check out The Geekiest Show on TV from Wired Magazine.)
* A finitely presented grape.