## Archive for August 7, 2010

### Rounding the Bases

Last week, I saw an amazing presentation by Jim Tanton. It involved an “exploding machine,” where dots placed in a box couple and explode, forming a new dot (or dots) in an adjacent box. For instance, he described a 1 ← 2 machine, in which two dots placed in a box explode and become one dot in the box to the left. Playing with these machines leads to a lot of mathematics about bases. Honestly, I’ll never be able to do this justice with a text description — so if you have an hour to spend with some cool math, check out Dots and Boxes for yourself.

Speaking of bases, I’ve recently heard a couple of new twists on old jokes. Nearly everyone knows this old classic:

Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9.

But I recently heard a fantastic twist:

Why don’t jokes work in base 8? Because 7 10 11.

And another golden oldie, which I first saw on a t-shirt:

There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

But I happen to think the following meta-joke is much funnier, although that could be a result of having just recently discovered it:

There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary… and nine others.