Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Day Plus

For some reason, I haven't felt much inspiration for blogging lately. Perhaps it's because I've been spending all my alloted "blog-minutes" on reading other, more interesting blogs. Then, by the time I've caught up with everything in my Google-reader and feel like I have all kinds of comments, the guilt and panic for having just spent X minutes/hours on anything but homework starts to set in. Promptly, I shove my face in my fluid mechanics, or begin googling the numerical approximation we apparently learned about in last lecture, but now that I am supposed to implement it, I realize I actually have no clue what to do.

Nevertheless, I thought that today, being such an important day, one that we experience only once every four years (except at the turn of the century, unless it's the turn of a milennium), I should point out that I am still alive enough to recognize its significance and relish in my 7th leap day ever. That's a pretty significant achievement, if I do say so myself.

Something really interesting to think about **WARNING: this paragraph may involve some math** is how many times I will re-experience a leap day on the same day of the week as a previous leap day. So far, it hasn't happened yet. The leap days of my life (and yes, I figured it out the old-fashioned way: looking it up in Google calendar) have been on (in chronological order, starting in 1984) W, M, Sat, Th, T, Sun, and now Friday. It's interesting that it does actually hit every single day, which makes sense if you notice that it skips 5 days every time (Monday is the 5th day after Wednesday, etc) and there are 7 days in a week. (Note: it skips to the 5th day because there are 365x4=1460 days in between leap days, and you might just happen to notice that 1460 = 4 mod 7.) For all you group theory people out there, you know that a cyclical group can be generated by powers of groups relatively prime to it. So we see, since 5 and 7 are prime, they are obviously relatively prime as well, thus skipping 5 days will eventually hit all 7 days. (This turns out to be a great example of it)

Pretty dang awesome.

I do have one question, though. Why is it called "leap day"? To me, that makes it sound like we're skipping a day, but really we get an extra one. I think we should call it "bonus day", or "extended year", or in honor of Jay's vernacular: "day plus".

And now for a random leaping dude, in honor of this leap day:

Hope you get to make the most of your extra day :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eclipse eclipsed

I must say, I found the lunar eclipse last night to be a bit disappointing... granted, our sky was totally cloudy and it just looked like a little reddish, fuzzy blob, but ever since seeing Saturn through a telescope in my astronomy class in college (which was seriously, SOOOO awesome), I always have high expectations for announced "big happenings" in the heavens.

Something that I have always really wanted to see is a total solar eclipse. According to trusty Wikipedia the next ones that could possibly be convenient for me to view would be August 21, 2017, visible from Idaho and Wyoming-which are worth driving to, if I end up living in Utah. And if the East becomes my home, never fear, I have only to wait a few more years because on April 28, 2024 there will be another, visible from the Eastern US.

I've already marked my calendar :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I never used to be a big fan of "singles' awareness day", but this year I'm extremely excited about my very first Valentine's Day while living in the same place as my significant other. :) We started the day off right with a big eggs and bacon breakfast, and now that I'm done with class, we're going to head of to a matinee and grab something to eat.

Last year, Jay was still living in Rhode Island, so we decided to have what we call a "distance date". We both rented the same movie and bought the same kind of cheesecake from the cheesecake factory and started our movies at the same time. It was fun to text each other with our comments throughout. For all those not as lucky as we are this year, I highly recommend it.

And for those of you who are not attached, doorbell ditching is sooo much fun :)

Don't forget to spread the love! Happy Valentine's Day!! <3

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Math Marketing

Stuff like this really makes my blood boil! Our math education has enough problems as it is... we don't need people to go around screwing it up even more! I find a very good summary of the innate evil of this idea here.

Ever since learning about modular arithmetic, I cursed my elementary school teachers for not teaching me about it as soon as I understood clocks and division, so that it could be more intuitive for me as a college student. Is modular arithmetic generally useful? For most people, no. Is it any harder to learn about than fractions? No. Can it lead to talking about more interesting, fun things to do with math? Yes. Could it be a good head start to those who choose to learn about real math? Yes.

And what about prime numbers? There is sooo much that can be gained from spending more time on prime numbers and prime factorizations. Once you know have that, combine it with modular arithmetic and you're all ready for some basic number and group theory...

I think one of the biggest problems is that soooo many people just get it ingrained into their heads that math is boring or not fun before they even start, based on how adults around them talk about it. I firmly believe that if we could end all nay-speaking of math, more people would enjoy it and actually excel! Unfortunately, that will never happen, so I've come to accept the idea of proving to brainwashed kids that math can be, no, is fun and exciting and creative. I know there are many fun math activities that people have done to get kids excited about math, and it worked!!

I'm trying to build a repertoire of such activities. So please all, rack your brains for all those fun math things you did growing up and share them here :) Think macaroni and cheese colored blocks, think abacus, think making shapes out of paper, think clever math puzzles. What did you enjoy about math?