## How to Biff a Boffin!!!

December 24, 2009

Mathspigs we need a formula to work out how to biff a boffin. I have one in mind, but let me explain. Maths professors are now in the habit of coming up with some crazy formula to grab media attention.

‘Mathematicians’ who should know better (Show-Me-The-Money ethics may be involved) have produced formulae for The Perfect Sitcom ; The Perfect Joke; The Perfect Day; The Perfect Rugby Kick ; The Perfect Marriage (Yeah, right!); The Perfect Chip”  and so on. See : Britney’s Naughtiness Factor Calculated for Idiots  Sometimes the formula is rubbish because it includes impossible measurements such as N (the fraction of nipple shown in naughtiness calculations) or f (the funniness of a punch line for Perfect joke calculations.) Now Professor Simon Blackburn from the University of London’s Royal Holloway College has calculated the minimum extra length a parking space needs to be to parallel park your car in association with  - let me see – Vauxhall. Surpise! Surpise!

The following article by Murray Waldrop first appeared in the Guardian, UK and then The Age, Australia (17/12/09)

Mathspig calculated the extra distance needed to parallel her Mazda 3 behind Mr Mathspigs Land Rover Discovery.

r = 5.45 m

l = 2.63 m

k = o.76 m

w = 1.79 m

Minimum extra length needed to parallel park Mazda 3 = 1.64 m

The answer seems reasonable but you better check the calcs mathspigs as I was so boooooored I thought I might fall asleep and smash my face into the keyboard doing this calculation.

Why is Mathspig so angry with boffins? Because this is maths for idiots. No one in their right mind would stop and calculate how much space they need to park a car. A driver has a look and – depending on driving skills – says ‘I reckon that’s a bit tight?’ or ‘Yep! that’ll do.’ These crazy formulae make maths and mathematicians look dumb. Is this what mathematicians do? Stop in the middle of the road to calculate if they can park their cars???? D’uh! Or do mathematicians use iffy formulae to calculate funniness factors?

If we want kids to do maths we should convince them it is both useful and relevant (Mathspig’s Mission, my friends). Even in the classroom student’s are asked to complete useless calculations. eg. If a farmer was grazing a goat in the corner of a rectangular paddock on a 5m tether, what area would the goat graze? Who would do this maths? The farmer simply looks at the paddock and says ‘I better move the goat?’  Students must practise their skills. But they absolutely have to do some real maths too!!!!!

Mathspigs keep an eye out for dumb maths. Teachers purleasssse take these crazy formulae into class. Show your students they are rubbish!!!

Then show them some useful maths like I Got the Speed Camera Blues!!

What’s the formula to biff a boffin? Who cares but if you must here is a hint:

r = length of your arm with the boffins ear @ a point on the circumference of the circle.

## Man vs Auto: Car Maths

December 8, 2009

One classic Aussie bush song sung by Slim Dusty has the words:

But there’s nothin’ so lonesome, so dull or so drear

Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer.

To parody this song:

But there’s nothin’ so lonesome, so dull or so drear

Than to stand next to a car made in your birth year!

The Queen

1926 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

Prince Charles                1948 Standard Vanguard

Camilla Parker-Bowles      1947 Wolseley.

Kylie         a 1968 Leyland Mini

Britney Spears          1981 Corvette.

Cars are little time capsules that reflect the hopes and vainglories of an era. Your era. And most of us would be looking at some pretty quaint old models.

Here are some cars from mathspigs family.

This is an Australian  Model T Ford or Tin Lizzie produced in the 1920s with my Grandmother at the wheel. The boy (obscured) in the photo is my father. My grandparents owned a small wheat farm at Lalbert in the Mallee, Victoria near where my grandfather  was born at – wait for it – Tittybong. The fires came in the 1930s, burnt the crop and the banks forclosed as often happened in the Great Depression. The banks not only took the car but the bridles off the horses!!! The car is important because my grandmother, Eileen, mother of 4 at the time, broke both her wrists crank starting it and her sister, Maggie, reset her sisters wrists on the kitchen table . Top Speed: 45 mph. Fuel consumption: 25 mpg (UK gallon)

My father left school at 13 to work on the farm and went to war at 19 in WWII fighting throughout the Pacific. On his return he married my mother and joined the police force. In the 1960s we, parents and 4 later 5 kids, moved to live on the police station at Kyneton, Victoria. We had the police phone in our kitchen and our car, the FC Holden (right) – ours had a pink door -was the police car. With the police phone in our kitchen, mum feeding the prisoners and our car used as the police car, I grew up in a sitcom. Later I wrote 3 books about it. Fuel Consumption: 9 l/ 100km

In the early 1970s when I went to University I had my first car. It was Horris, the Morris Minor and it was made in 1952, the year of my birth!!!! A car of some character its shock absorbers were shot so it bounced when it hit bumps. When it rained water splashed through holes near the brake while the windscreen wipers tended to flop forward and hit the bonnet (ie. hood) so in rain I had to drive with my hand out the triangular vent window holding the windscreen wiper onto the windscreen. Top Speed: 64 mph (102 kph) downhill with a tailwind. Fuel consumption: 40 mpg (UK Gallon or 5.9 l /100 km).

So here is the challenge mathspigs. Who uses more CALORIES to travel 10 km? A car produced in the year of your birth or you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Note: If you were born during WWII (1939-45) car production was limited so I will assign you an army vehicle, a 1940 Wily’s Jeep. This includes George W Bush 1946 Willys Jeep.

Car fuel consumption data can be found at Fuel Consumption Data Base for Australian cars.

Calories consumed walking @ eHOw  (Note: On this website calories mean Calories or Kilocalories)

You can work it out mathspigs. Who uses more calories?????? Man or Auto?????????

Here are a few more celebrities with the birth year cars:

Elle Macpherson                                        1963 Lotus Elite

Zac Effron                                             1987 Ford Bronco

Tiger Woods                                     1975 Volvo

Miley Cyrus                                  1992 Honda Civic

Robert Downey Jnr             1965 Impala

Kate Winslet                      1975 Triumph Spitfire

Eric Bana                   1968 Holden Monaro

Cate Blanchett          1969 Toyota Corolla