Posts Tagged ‘fun with measurement’


10 You can out run a lava flow

November 16, 2009

Dantes_peak_ver2Every volcano disaster movie from Volcano (1997) with Tommy Lee Jones to Dante’s Peak (1997) with Pierce Brosnan someone somewhere tries to out run a lava flow. Is this possible?

The answer is maybe. You will find everything you want to know about lava flows @

On January 10,1977, at Nyiragongo lava sprang from the sides of the volcano moving at speeds up to 40 miles per hour (60 km/hr). About 70 people were killed.

lava temp Measuring the temperature of lava. Photograph by R.L. Christiansen, U.S. Geological Survey, January 9, 1973.
The fastest Lava flows recorded were in Hawaiiin 1950 when Mauna Loa erupted. The lava traveled at 6 miles (10 kilometers) per hour through thick forest. But once the lava flows became established and good channels developed, the lava in the channels was flowing at up to 60 km/hour (97 kph).

Speed of average sprinter = 19 – 24 kph

Can you out run lava?

Work it out mathspigs. You are 600m ahead of the lava flow and you need to get up a hill to escape, which is 1000m away. The lava is flowing at 30 kph and you are running at 18 kph.

running man

Will you make it??????

lava 2


But Baby, my Feets too Big!!!!!

September 22, 2009

Confused_tnsThose Hippie Statisticians at The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)  are Navel Gazing Again!!!! . Here are the statistics for the height of students belly buttons above the ground for Year 4 – 12 students. ABS  #mce_temp_url#





height chart Correction


tom & kate


policeman_stop_tns Stop!!! WARNING!!!

Before we do any maths with students height mathspigs, be warned. Students can be teased or embarrassed by their height. Mathspig has always argued that a lampost is tall but does not have much of a personality. And a bee is very small but you’d be crazy to tease one. Nevertheless we will use celebrity heights and average student heights instead. 

Here we go!!!!!




 Look at the data. It is useless. THIS IS THE POINT. You have to make sense of data not just sprout numbers. Foot sizes actually shrink!!!! There is insufficient information. The ABS random sample size used was too small. So baby your feet might be too big… but we can’t tell from this data.









 Q2: Does the ‘average’ Aussie student have divine proportions?Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour

 The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci around the year 1487. This sketch supposedly represents the perfect proportions in man. Measure Height and Belly Button Height of Vertruvian man. Divide his Belly Button Height by his full height.

We will call this the DIVINE FRACTION. 

How do Aussie Students compare? You have the data needed to calculate the DIVINE FRACTION for each year level.



Q3: How do the average heights of our  students  compare to students in other countries?

If we could took a very, very large number of student heights they would produce the graph below. It is a NORMAL DISTRIBUTION or A BELL CURVE. The curve below is for young adults in the USA. We do not know the actual number of students for each height.  

ADVANCED MATHSPIGS; You will find more data, a cute bar graph using students  and some interesting bimodal graphs (combining the Bell Curves for Female and Male heights) @#mce_temp_url#

How do Aussies compare? See the graphs below. We do not know how many students are involved. We can only say  our average Year 12 student is taller than the majority of their students!!! Ha! HA! If, that is, the data is reliable and the foot sizes suggest maybe NOT.

basket ball height Correction



height bell curve Correction


 Q 4:  How does the average height of  Aussie students for each Year level compare with celebrities? 

The pics and some stats come from The Sunday Age ( Coming Up Short 13th Sept 2009) . Here are some celebrity heights:

Lou Reed, Rock Star    1.65m

Nicolas Sarkozy  French President  1.65m

Napoleon   1.68 m

Syvester Styllone Actor 1.70 – 1.79m (No one is sure.)

Andrew Bogut, Aussie Basketball Champ (Pictured) now playing for the Milwaukee Bucks 2.13m

Tom Cruise, Actor  1.70 m

Katie Holmes, Actor  1.75 m

Nicole Kidman, Actor  1.79mmrocky

Keith Urban, Singer   1.78 m

Aaron Sanderlands and Peter Street, AFL Players    2.11 m

Gary Ablett jnr, AFL Brownlow Medal Winner 2009  1.80m

Roger Federer, Tennis Star    1.85m

Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimmer   1.95m

Grant Hacket, Olympic Swimmer  1.98 m

Liesel Jones, Swimmer  1.78 m

Tyrone Smith, Rugby Union, 1.78 m

Digby Loane, Rugby Union   1.79 m

Cate Blanchett, Actor  1.74 m

bell curve2 Correction


The shop is 50 Smoots on your left

June 4, 2009

According to the New Scientist  magazine ‘AS A prank in 1958, Matthew Dirckx tells us, a group of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology used the body of Oliver Smoot, the shortest smootnew recruit to their fraternity, to measure the length of a bridge across the Charles river connecting Boston to the MIT campus. The bridge was found to be 364.4 smoots long, plus or minus an ear.’ Fifty years later a plaque was placed in the new bridge officially recognising the Smoot.

Dr WhoMeanwhile in the most recent Dr Who episode “Planet of the Dead’ one scientist named a very big amount of weird energy after himself. Instead of Joules or calories he called his energy unit the Malcolm. Good idea.

Mathspigs we definitely need more units of length such as the Werner, Chinock, Wu and Clutz. Claim your own height as a unit of length. Name it and then convert the heights of the following monuments into your unit:

empire state



  Empire Ste Building: 381m



statueof liberty


  Statue of Liberty: 93 m




great pyramid  

 Great Pyramid of Giza: 147m



eiffel tower


 Eiffel Tower: 300m

  Gustave Eiffel was an engineer who not only designed the Eiffel Tower (Built 1889) but was also involved in the design and construction of the Statue of Liberty. 



twin towers

  Twin Towers New York: 420 m

 Mathspig travelled to the top of the Twin Towers in 1999 and found the view terrifying. But a little known fact about the Twin Towers is that they were built using half a dozen  Australian designed cranes called the Favco Climbing Crane. 





 Burj Dubai: 818 m