Off on a Tangent A Fortnightly Electronic Newsletter from the Hope College Department of Mathematics
 March 7, 2012 Vol. 10, No. 10 http://www.math.hope.edu/newsletter.html

 Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition takes place next month

 The 36th Annual Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition will be held at Calvin College this year on Saturday, April 14.  Students from colleges and universities in Michigan will gather to challenge themselves on 10 interesting problems, working together in teams of up to three people. The competition takes place in the morning and after lunch there is a discussion of the solutions.  You must sign-up by Friday, March 30 either on Prof. Cinzori's door (VWF 216) or send him an email at cinzori@hope.edu.  You may register as a team (of two or three) or individually (and you will be placed on a team). It has been a few years since Hope has held possession of the Klein Bottle Trophy and it is time to bring it back to campus!

 Math in the News: Do birds know how to add?

 In our last newsletter, we brought you information about pigeons that could distinguish between the size of various numbers.  It seems a parrot has now shown off some more complex mathematical ability.  The recently published final experiments involving Alex, an African grey parrot, reveal a talent for addition. According to Nature, “[The experiments] show that Alex could accurately add together two Arabic numerals to a sum of eight and the total number of objects under three cups, putting his mathematical abilities on par with (and maybe beyond) those of chimpanzees and other non-human primates.” Read the full article from Nature here.

 Problem Solvers of the Fortnight

 We had the following story in our last problem of the fortnight: "Well, I've come out second best in my battle with the union," said Noah van Ark. "How so?" asked his sister Joan. "Well, I needed to have the union workers move thousands of crates.  The exact number," said Noah, consulting his notebook, "was 69,489.  The job took nine working days.  I didn't think the union workers were putting all they had into it, but the union leaders thought otherwise.  Every day after the first day, I put six more workers on the job; and every day after the first day, each of the workers -- by arrangement -- shifted five fewer crates than was the quota for the day before.  The result was that, during the latter part of the period, the number of crates being moved actually began to go down." What was the largest number of crates moved on any one day? Congratulations to Allison Leigon, Eric Lunderberg, Melanie Leonard, Elisa Shibley, David Dolfin, David McMorris, Lisa McLellan, Megan Kelley, Danielle Maly, Rebecca Budde, Bobby Nash, Erica Budge, Lauren Warren, and Nicole Zeinstra -- all of whom correctly determined that the largest number of crates moved on any one day was 7980.

 Problem of the Fortnight