Thursday, September 27, 2007

Half Nerdy Thursday: Installment II

First, the winner of the Smart @$$ Question of the Week... FTN writes:
Why is the square root of two so irrational? I'm always trying to have a nice, polite conversation with it, and it always starts screaming and going off on me.

Also... Fermat's Last Theorem: Better than Schwartzeneggar's Last Action Hero? Yes or No?

FTN, the secret to the irrationality of the square root of 2 lies in some oft forgotten wisdom of the ancients. In earlier times, numbers had a gender associated with them.

Had the there been a more rigorous understanding of real numbers back in those days, I'm sure that they would have deemed the set of irrationals to be masculine.

An irrational number is a number that cannot be expressed by the ratio (or fraction) of two decimal integers.

In this base 10 world of ours, the decimal representation of an irrational like the square root of 2 decimal is nonterminating and nonrepeating. He can't fully express himself, and is likely to be irritated when you prod him to do just that.

To him, you're like a wife who keeps prodding him with expressive questions like, "What are you feeling?" After a while, he'll lose his cool and withdraw.

Your best bet is to to accept the square root of 2's personality and appreciate how he expresses himself in non-decimal ways, like slicing squares of length one into beautiful right triangles. It is there that he can find harmony with the rationals.

I'm sure that Dr. Laura might also recommend supplying him a steady diet of home cooked meals and regular wild monkey sex.

As for Fermat versus Schwarzenegger, I think I'd pick Fermat just because the theorem had a larger body count than Last Action Hero. Of course, when your story lasts a century or two, you can rack up those numbers pretty easily. But, then again Ahnold probably got paid more for that stinker than Andrew Wiles, the guy who proved Fermat's Last Theorem, will make in a lifetime.

GodsKid writes:
You could tell us a little more about elliptical curve cryptography -- if there is a layman's sort of explanation. It sounds interesting!

I might save this for another installment since such an accessible, yet concise, exposition will take some time to edit.

Anais writes:
I think I'd really rather have a "traditional" HNT from you. :-)

(sighs) Trust me, my dear, you don't want to see me exposed. Maybe if I lose some weight first. ;-)

Therese asks:
I would love to ask a really good math or tech question, but I don't know enough about either to do so. Now, if you made a Half Nosey Thursday where you allow bloggers to ask you impertinent questions, well, then I might be able to contribute better. :)

Oh, wait. I have one. Is it possible to add sound files to a blog in a post?

I'll give the nosey angle some thought.

As for adding sound files to a blog, the answer probably depends on the blogging service you're using. Last time I checked, Blogger does not provide a built-in facility for posting sound files, but I did find a third party blog posting that shows how to put streaming audio on your blog. Maybe you will find it useful for your purposes?

Keep those cards and letters comin', and stay tuned for next week's installment of Half Nerdy Thursday.

(nerdy NPR voice over)

Support for Half Nerdy Thursday is brought to you in part by the Digger Jones Foundation, promoting scholarly inquiry into clashing libido relationships for a really long time.

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(flip the switch before the beggathon guy comes on to offer premiums)
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