10 January 2012


This list is apparently going viral among sciency-mathy types.  Thanks to Carin Bondar, Jennifer Ouellette, and Andrea Kuszewski for passing along 6 Small Math Errors That Caused Huge Disasters.  The bottom line ~ there's a good reason for your teacher's insisting on math accuracy when you were in school.  I spent eight years as a land survey instrument tender and filled in as survey party chief, back during the Punic Wars.  It was not only normal but expected that we would check each other's math and drawings.  Even those with years of experience in simple math, algebra, trigonometry and engineering goof up sometimes.  The consequence may be tiny, or it may be huge and costly.  Witness the disasters in the article, which could have been avoided with just a little more thought, or another set of eyes looking at the design ~

~  Airliner crashes due to window design.
~  Military jets crash due to aircraft carrier deck design.
~  Hotel walkway collapses due to the strain on a single bolt.
~  Hundreds die in a nightclub fire due to inward-opening doors.
~  The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses because it had no air holes for wind.
~  The Titanic sinks because its central propeller doesn't work in reverse.

So do all those math drills, kids, until you can do the math in your head.  Then get someone to check your work anyway.  And do check out the disaster link for illustrations, videos, and a fuller explanation of the causes of each 'learning moment'.

This via Carin Bondar, with tongue only half in cheek ~ 5 Things You Should Know Before Dating a Scientist.  "So you've been eyeing that smart, attractive scientist you're lucky enough to know personally.  You're intrigued.  Your scientist is smart, funny, confident .... Who can blame you?  Science is a sexy occupation.  But scientists aren't like the bimbos you usually pick up at the bar.  Nor are they the a-holes you ladies continually fall for.  No, scientists are different beings (which is why you're attracted to them in the first place), and you should realize that this isn't going to be a run-of-the-mill, boring, lame relationship you're used to."

Why?  Click on the link for a fuller, and rather earthy, explanation.  Here's the summary ~

~  We can figure things out.
~  At some point, you will be a topic.
~  Yes, we think we're smarter than you.
~  You're not less important than the job.  The job is just more important than anything else.
~  You won't be disappointed.

Lastly, just for fun, here is an interactive, color-coded illustration of the human spine and its component vertebrae (illustrated above, click to enlarge).  At the linked website, position your cursor over each vertebra in turn to see what parts of the body it supports and its attendant nerves connect to, and what symptoms may occur when it is out of alignment.  Caveat ~ do not respond to "click here for an appointment".  Chiropractors want your money.  That doesn't detract from the information provided.

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