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13 May 2005

nincompoop forgets PEPAGS Rule 3


I know the entire Vleeptron Community remembers The PizzaQ Besbol Problem: On a regulation baseball diamond, what's the distance between the Pitcher and First Base?

It was a Pythagorean Triangle Thing, and if you took eleven aspirins and didn't mind a little trickle of blood coming out of your ears, you and your nifty $125 Hewlett-Packard Graphing Calculator would have come up with 63.717008348466090387092475740644 feet.

But those 32 ridiculous digits of precision weren't precise enough to win the pizza.

On Vleeptron, we want the Perfect, Exact, Precise Ancient Greek-Style Answer before we send you the pizza overnight via VPS.

And we said the PEPAGS Answer

1. must contain only Whole Numbers

2. arranged in any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and square root.

Well, we screwed up.

Don't worry, Amy, you answered the Besbol PizzaQ Just Perfectly, your Nobel Mathematics Prize is safe (and we're still waiting for your Acceptance Speech).

Last night I plugged in the old ungrounded plug of my Heathkit TM-212 Time Machine and visited Alexandria, Egypt in 230 BC to meet an old hero of mine, Eratosthenes -- the Ancient Greek guy who invented the Sieve for finding Prime Numbers, and who also was the first dude to measure the size of the Earth accurately. (The Earth is still pretty damn close to the size E. said it was, and supercomputers still use his Sieve to hunt for them pesky Prime Numbers.)

I showed E. the Besbol Problem and my PEPAGS Rules.

"You forgot a rule," he said in that math-teacher voice, the one they use to tell you you're a totally inadequate nincompoop.

So, there's a pizza slice ready for VPS to pick up and ship to you if you're the first to remember Rule 3, the rule I forgot about
Perfect, Exact, Precise Ancient Greek-Style Answers.

Eratosthenes' Day Job was as the Head Librarian of the Great Museum and Library of Alexandria. When Alexander the Great (in a rare sober moment) founded the port city of Alexandria, it quickly became the greatest seaport on Earth, and they had a very cool law. Every ship that docked in Alexandria was searched for all books and manuscripts and maps, they were taken to the Great Library, copied for the Library's permanent collection, and then returned to the skipper. That's how the Library got to be the greatest Library on Earth real damn quick.

Anyway, Eratosthenes showed me around the Library, and later we went out for a great Greek dinner, and got pretty drunk on retsina. Man, that stuff packs a wollop!


Blogger billnye said...

Well, your comment about primes got me thinking, and your PEPAGS sounds a lot like what we were taught in school (long ago, but not so long for me as some, I suppose...) as "simplest form" of an expression.

Unless I miss my guess, the rule you left off has to do with reducing roots and powers, just as you'd reduce common factors in the numerator and denominator. Thus, 24/8ths would go down to 3, and something like the square root of x^12 would be... roots to powers is additions and subrtractions... x*Sqrt(x^10)?

I had teppanyaki for dinner, so I'm still pretty satisfied at the moment, but if that's pizza-right then I'll gladly take a raincheck for when I'm hungrier.

Also, a word puzzle that I stumbled across the other day, from back in my School Days, that I've always liked: Find the one word for each pair some sense of the answer word can mean the same as some sense of each of the paired words. (Por exemplo, KIND can mean the same as sort, and KIND can mean the same as benevolent.)

sort - benevolent
results - belongings
curtsy - prow
stays - corpse
railing - duel
tresses - fastens
dissertation - try
ray - timber
intersect - peevish
raise - back
eruption - reckless
calculate - shape
hoodwink - cliff
tied - leap
wearied - drilled
scrape - grille
ravine - stuff
stockings - tube
spiritualist - average
cataract - drops

Some of these I got right away in the classroom, and others took me much later until I stumbled across the list again. I'd made a copy because it caught my fancy so, and came across it scribbled on a 3x5 card with some other ancient paperwork.

Such a lovely language we have.

John M

Blogger billnye said...

Wow, I went back and changed something in the edit box, and a gibberish sentence snuck in behind me as the door closed.

Try "Find the one word for each pair where some sense of the answer word can mean the same as some sense of each of the paired words" on for size.

John M

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

hiya hiya billnye!

hmmm okay the part of my brane that can do puzzles like your word puzzle shut down about a half hour ago. (On these puzzles, I can dish it out, but often can't take it.)

Okay, that "simplest form" isn't the forgotten Rule 3 of the Ancient Greek Perfect Answer rules.


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