Off on a Tangent
A Fortnightly Electronic Newsletter from the Hope College Department of Mathematics
 December 4, 2015 Vol. 14, No. 7

We will revisit that age-old question, "Do dogs know calculus?" in colloquium 

Title: Do Dogs Know Calculus?
Speaker: Tim Pennings, Davenport University  
Time:  Thursday, December 10 at 11:00-11:50 am
Place:  Schaap 1000

A standard calculus problem is to find the quickest path from a point on shore to a point in the lake, given that running speed is greater than swimming speed. Elvis, my Welsh Corgi, never had a calculus course. But when we played "fetch" at Lake Michigan, he appeared to choose paths close to the calculus answer. In this talk we form a mathematical model and reveal what was found when we experimentally tested this ability.

Math Club News

Math Club invites you and your friends to "A Brilliant Young Mind" at the Knickerbocker Theater (downtown Holland) on Friday, December 4. We plan to meet in the lobby at approximately 7:20 pm Friday and then find seats. Bring your Hope student ID for free admission. The movie has both math and romance, so it must be good!

Movie description (from the Knickerbocker website):

In a world difficult to comprehend, Nathan struggles to connect with those around him - most of all his loving mother - but finds comfort in numbers. When Nathan is taken under the wing of unconventional and anarchic teacher, Mr. Humphreys, the pair forge an unusual friendship and Nathan's talents win him a place on the UK team at the International Mathematics Olympiad. From suburban England to bustling Taipei and back again, Nathan builds complex relationships as he is confronted by the irrational nature of love.

For more info on the Hope Math Club's latest and greatest activities, visit their brand new FaceBook page (and request to join the group).

Math in the News: Christmas gifts for math geeks

Okay, this isn't news, but just some helpful advice on what to get that math geek on your Christmas list. Anyone would appreciate the Klein bottle opener shown here. Business Insider made a list of such awesome gifts that included the bottle opener, a telescope for your iPhone, chocolate gaming dice, and math joke t-shirts.

Esty also has a site devoted to gifts for math lovers that includes quadratic formula cufflinks, mathlete t-shirts, and golden ratio rings. Head over to Zazzle for prime number mugs, math symbol ties, and math formula night lights. Finally, if you take a trip over to Mathnasium you will find a cutie pi onesie, a hypercube paperweight, and protractor cuff links.

Remember it is only (the smallest number of distinct squares needed to tile a square)-days until Christmas!

Problem Solvers of the Fortnight

In our last problem of the fortnight we had you chew on the following problem. Find all real values of x, with x greater than or equal to 3, that satisfy the following equation:

Congratulations to Grace Ahlgrim, Luke Baus, Matt Childs, Natalie Deering, Brandon Derstine, Jessica Dornoff, Ania Dlugosz, Richard Edward, Kate Finn, Chris Gager, Joshua Gibson, Amie Hixon, Tom Johnson, Emily Joosse, Richie Kish, Alex Klunder, Noah Kochanski, Thomas Kouwe, Connor Kuhlmann, Nolan Ladd, Lyndsy Miller, Alec Nelson, Paul Nelson, Kim Palmer, Julian Payne, Ivy Peterson, Katie Reed, Jada Royer, Sam Savalle, Andrew Shay, John Stack, Kade Steffes, Caleb Stuckey, Jacob Verschueuren, and Laura Walker -- all of whom correctly solve the Problem of the Fortnight in the last issue of Off on a Tangent.

Problem of the Fortnight

A circle of radius 4 was accidentally dropped into the parabola y = 5 x2 and fell until it came to rest.  Find the coordinates of the center of this circle that is inscribed in the parabola.

Write your solution (showing all relevant work) on the back of a thirty dollar bill and drop it in the Problem of the Fortnight slot outside Professor Mark Pearson's office (VWF 212) by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, December 11.  As always, be sure to include your name and the name(s) of your math professor(s) -- e.g. Dot Snice, Professor Horatio Algebra  --- on your solution.

The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand fold.  


Off on a Tangent