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Math trivia

Ok, it's trivia time. How many of these questions can you answer?

  • What do mathematicians call a regular polygon with eight sides?
  • What mathematical symbol did math whiz Ferdinand von Lindemann determine to be a transcendental number in 1882?
  • What number is an improper fraction always greater than?
  • How many equal sides does an icosahedron have?
  • What two letters are both symbols for 1,000?
  • What Greek math whiz noticed that the morning star and evening star were one and the same, in 530 B.C.?
  • What handy mathematical instrument's days were numbered when the pocket calculator made the scene in the 1970s?

See this Math trivia page for more questions and answers to the above questions.

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Big numbers

One followed by 3 zeros is called a thousand.
One followed by 6 zeros is a million.
One followed by 9 zeros is a billion.

Can you keep going?

Answers at the Tricks and Trivia page.

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Are U.S. area codes random?

I had never given much thought to how area codes were selected. I always assumed they were random three digit numbers that, once upon a time, always had 0 or 1 as their middle digit. This morning I was browsing The Universal Book of Mathematics: From Abracadabra to Zeno’s Paradoxes and read an interesting article explaining how early area codes were determined. Here are some snippets from that article:

North American telephone area codes seem to have been chosen at random. But there was a method to their selection. In the mid-1950s when direct dialing of long-distance calls first became possible, it made sense to assign area codes that took the shortest time to dial to the larger cities. Almost all calls were from rotary dials. Area codes such as 212, 213, 312, and 313 took very little time for the dial to return to its starting position compared, for example, to numbers such as 809, 908, 709. The quickest-to-dial area codes were assigned to the places expected to receive the most direct-dialed calls. New York City got 212, Chicago 312, Los Angeles 213, and Washington, D.C., 202, which is a little longer to dial than 212, but much shorter than others. In order of decreasing size and estimated amount of telephone traffic, the numbers grew larger: San Francisco go 415, Miami 305, and so on. At the other end of the spectrum came places like Hawaii (the last state annexed in 1959) with 808, Puerto Rico with 809, and Newfoundland with 709…

At another time I will review the book - it is a wonderful encyclopedia of mathematical terms and concepts, and it is sprinkled with nice illustrations and puzzles.

Filed under: Books, Fun, Trivia 3 Comments