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# Math Rules

Some equations touch all our lives--whereas others, well, not so much

This article was published in print as "Math Rules."

This article was originally published with the title Math Rules.

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### ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

Steve Mirsky has been writing the Anti Gravity column since a typical tectonic plate was about 33 inches from its current location. He also hosts the Scientific American podcast Science Talk.

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1. 1. pickenspilot 08:01 PM 4/18/12

equations:

What about the integral of e to the x power = function of u to the n power?

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2. 2. PNorton 12:01 PM 4/28/12

Related to the equation in the first comment, an oft-quoted equation while I was in college was
(M/F) + (3/4)Y = B
The B's, while few, have flourished over the decades.

-- Peter Norton, Reed College x65

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3. 3. promytius 10:04 AM 4/29/12

story=3/17
How many of the equations were actually revealed in your "review"
3/17 = 17.647058823529411764705882352941%, score for review.

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4. 4. geojellyroll 11:01 AM 4/29/12

Thumbs up! Take math out of the classrooms into the realm of 'fun'.

Math classes are like piano lessons...destroy the inate eagerness of kids to be creative.

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5. 5. And Then What? 04:51 PM 4/29/12

I remember one time we had university “ Physics Open House” and our Prof., who had a dry sense of humor, puts some equations on the board to make it look impressive to the public, and one in particular caught my eye. It was written out in scientific notation as: the integral of e to the power x = F of u to the power n. which of course makes no sense, except when it is translated into Sex=Fun.

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6. 6. And Then What? in reply to pickenspilot 04:54 PM 4/29/12

my apologies sir it looks like we had the same prof.

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7. 7. monk_the_dog 08:56 PM 4/29/12

That's not the punchline. It's:

“The squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the *sons* of the squaws on the other two hides.” (sons, not sums)

And that's nowhere near the worst joke in the history of science.

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8. 8. SCAMdan1 01:14 PM 5/2/12

The HA inequality reminds me of the definition of a horse show:

It's a bunch of HA's showing their HA's to a bunch of HA's!

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9. 9. JonnieBean44 10:44 PM 5/8/12

Not only is the punch line wrong, it is: "the sons of the s_____ on the hippopotamus are equal to the sons of the s_____ on the other two hides" but the word used for a Native American woman is offensive in the extreme, being the equivalent of calling a woman a c**t or a whore.

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10. 10. djangadjo 09:01 AM 6/19/12

Jonniebean44 is correct. This is an offensive joke to native peoples. Stewart and Mirsky might not have known that, but their editors should have. The same situation occurred with Carol Higgins Clark, who titled her latest mystery Gypped. What are editors for, anyway, if they don't have some cultural sensitivity? [Note: this has nothing to do with "correctness", political or otherwise. It's an ethnic slur.]

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