Off on a Tangent 
A Fortnightly Electronic
Newsletter from the Hope College Department of Mathematics 
April 1, 2016  Vol. 14, No. 12

http://www.math.hope.edu/newsletter.html 
Baseball data will be the topic of next week's colloquium 
Title:
Analyzing Baseball Data 

Speaker: Paul Pearson, Hope College Math Department  
Time: Thursday, April 7 at 4 pm  
Place: VanderWerf 102 
Hope students will present at three upcoming colloquia 
Title:
Proofs without Words 

Speakers: Hope Students from the Bridge to Higher Mathematics course  
Times: Tuesday, April 12 at
11:00 am Wednesday, April 13 at 7:00 pm Thursday, April 14 at 11:00 pm 

Place: VanderWerf 104 
Upcoming Colloquia 

There is one more colloquium that is currently
on the
schedule
for this semester.

Goldwater Scholars announced 
MCTM Scholarships available 

Since
1989 the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) has awarded
scholarships to college seniors and juniors who are enrolled in a
teacher prep program and have mathematics as their primary teaching
interest. The award of $2500 must be used for tuition, books,
labs, and/or fees necessary to fulfill requirements for a BA or BS
degree. Applicants must be Michigan residents, enrolled in a teacher ed program, have an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher, and have successfully completed our required calculus sequence. Applications are due May 15, 2016. Four Hope students are previous winners of this award including Prof. Kate Vance! For more information, further requirements, and an application go to https://www.mictm.org/index.php/scholarships/miriamschaeferaward/ 
Problem
Solvers of the Fortnight 
In
our last POTF we gave the following problem: Suppose three red checkers and two black checkers are arranged in an alternating pattern along a line (as shown in the figure below). You are allowed to move the checkers as follows: By placing the tips of the first and second fingers on any two touching checkers, one of which must be red and the other black, you may slide the pair to another spot along the line. The two checkers in the pair must touch each other at all times. The checker at left in the pair must remain at left; the checker at right must remain at right. Gaps in the chain are allowed at the end of any move except the final one. After the last move the checkers need not be at the same spot on the line that they occupied at the start. A. What is the smallest number of moves that will rearrange the checkers so that the three red checkers are on the left and the two black checkers are on the right (as shown in the figure below)  and how do you do it? B. Now answer the previous question assuming now that you are allowed to move two checkers of the same kind. Congratulations to Paige Bleicher, Owen Brooks, Josiah Brouwer, Matt Childs, Alex Dolehanty, Richard Edwards, Robert Ganzi, Zach Geschwendt, Alek Gohrmann, Aleah Hahn, Lindsey Hoaglund, Ryan Holman, Russell Houpt, Erik Johnsen, Cassidy Kessel, Jacob Knol, Mitch Konkle, Jessica Korte, Eric Krzak, Nolan Ladd, Chris McAuley, Sarah Mozdren, Miles Pruitt, Jessica Reichenbach, Ty Schreur, Kathryn Trentadue, Sam VanderArk, and Allie VanderStoep  all of whom correctly solved the Problem of the Fortnight in the last issue of the newsletter. 
Problem
of the Fortnight 

The
line y = mx, where m > 0, forms an acute angle with the xaxis, and
the point P = (a,b) lies in the interior of the angle. A line
through P intersects both the xaxis and the line y = mx to form a
triangle.
What
is the minimum area of this triangle? Express your answer in
terms of m, a, and b.
Write
your solution on a triangle of paper, 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,
April 8. As always, be sure to write your name and
the name(s) of your math professor(s)  G.O. Metrie, Professor Al G.
Bragh  on your solution.

Math in the News: Pi versus Tau debate has come to a resolution 

There has been growing discussion
that says we should dump the number pi in favor of tau (which is twice pi). The argument is that tau is easier
to work with than pi since one revolution of a circle would be one tau
instead of two pi. You can see this argument in a recent article in Scientific
American. Others argue that since pi has been used for so long and
is used so much, it should not be replaced with tau. Apparently this disagreement has been put to rest and a compromise was obtained. The symbol pi will still be used, but will essentially be enhanced. In a recent joint meeting of the International Mathematical Federation and the American Symbol Society, it was decided that starting on April 1 of next year, the symbol for pi will no longer be used to represent 3.14159... but it will now be used to represent twice that or 6.28318... and the symbol for tau would now be used to represent 3.14159....This decision was made because the symbols for pi and tau are very similar except pi has two vertical lines where tau just has one. Hence it would make sense that pi should be twice that of tau (and not the other way around). Calculators and formulas will have to be changed in the next year to reflect this decision. There was also a fair amount of support at the meeting for the need of other symbols to represent 3pi, 4pi, and so on. Joe King, a member of the board of IMF said, "It is such a burden to use formulas that include leading coefficients and we need to find a way around this nightmare." This led to further debate and a resolution. The symbol that has commonly been used for tau would now be called pi (since nobody really knows what tau is), the symbol commonly used for pi would now be called bipi. This naturally leads to an easy way to make and give names to further symbols of tripi, quadripi and so on. Unfortunately, after hearing that octopi would be used to represent a number, members of the Octopus section of the International Mollusk Society are now up in arms over this use and have called an emergency meeting over the matter. Perhaps this controversy isn't over. 
More
Math in
the News: Sleep
Number Bed introduces bed with a Pi setting 
The
Sleep Number Bed Company recently
developed a circular bed. After its development, they found that
the integer sleep numbers just didn’t feel right for anyone.
About ready to scrap the idea, engineer Betty Bie came up with an
idea. “Instead of using integers, it would make sense to use
multiples of pi,” stated Bie. “When we made this switch, everyone
loved the feel of the new bed. It really gives you a
transcendental sleep experience." Bie also mentioned that they have a new bed that uses logarithmic sleep numbers. While she wouldn't tell us the shape of the new bed she did say when she uses it, she sleeps like a log. In an offtherecord remark, a high ranking member of the design team at the Sleep Number Bed Company also said that they were secretly working on a bed numbering system that can be described as "unreal." 
Math Club Tshirts are delayed again 
This
year's math
club Tshirts have
been back ordered for over three weeks now. In the meantime, math
club members have created their own "attire" (i.e. body paint) to be
used during their
meetings. Club president Drew A. Blank stated, “We are making due
in
a
tough situation.” He went on to say, “I’m just glad some of our
members were able to get a little sun during spring break, so we don't
make complete fools of ourselves” Hopefully the shirts will be in soon and the math club will be able to come out of the dark hallways of VanderWerf sporting some more appropriate attire. 
Off
on a Tangent 