Murphy’s Law and other sites


julia_set.jpgBecause apparently I have waaaaayyyyy too much time on my hands, one of my students introduced me to a new time sink: this list of Cool Math Sites. I had seen some of the sites on the list (which is organized by topic, and updated regularly) but there were quite a few I hadn’t heard of.

For example, you can get unique, rare, or common facts about whole numbers on Number Gossip: the number 21 is the smallest number of distinct integer-sided squares needed to tile a square, the number of spots on a standard die, and also a Fibonacci number. Number Gossip gives more detailed information about small numbers than large ones, but it’s still a great way to waste some time pick up some interesting tidbits to share at your next cocktail party. If you go to cocktail parties. Or, umm, talk about number facts at them.

Moving right along, as I think we should, one of Patty’s favorite sites was this list of Murphy’s Laws and Mathematics. It included:

  • Every problem is harder than it looks and takes longer than you expected.
  • Notes you understood perfectly in class transform themselves into hieroglyphics at home.
  • The answers you need aren’t in the back of the book.
  • The answer to the problem you couldn’t work on the exam will become obvious after you hand in your paper.

Their list is 17 items long, but I’m thinking it can still be added to. For example:

  • That brilliant insight to the problem you’ve been working on for weeks will disappear the moment you find some paper to write it down.
  • The set of GREAT exam questions from a teacher perspective and the set of GREAT exam questions from a student perspective are nearly disjoint.
  • If you wait until the last minute to print/photocopy something, the printer/copier will most surely break down.

And others…..?

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