Individual Entry

Irrational

After being unemployed for a year, I decided to stop job seeking and instead make my mark in mathematics.

There are a ton of numbers out there I figured, and you only need to find one unique concept and it gets named after you.

So I spent a month working during commercial breaks, gathered up all my hand-written notes, and brought them to the math professor of my local community college.

"Sir, I think you'll see I have done some groundbreaking work."

"You know how pi, is the ratio of a circle's line thing to it's round thing? Well I have applied the same principal to the square. I call it, 'Frank's Awesome Ratio'".

The mathematician, obviously impressed, asked if I was a student here.

"No sir, I am without formal training if you can believe it."

He then told me to get out, obviously unwilling to believe that such epic work could have come from outside his own profession.

"I'll just wait outside until you're capable of discussing this like adults."

And so I waited outside his door while students came and went. I held my papers close to my chest lest they attempt to copy my work.

Eventually a tall skinny kid with glasses and unkempt hair came out of the office, and introduced himself.

"Hey there, you must be the crazy guy. The professor said I should look over your work so you'll go away."

I refused to share it until he showed me some evidence of who he was, and he produced a pay stub proving that he was an actual teacher's assistant. Which seemed on the up and up.

So I spread the papers out over the hallway there and went over my work with him.

"I'm sorry sir, but the ratio you are talking about already has a name, it's called 'four'."

I explained to him that I had made the same mistake at first, but when I actually calculated it out, it was very close to four, but not precisely. Looking around to make sure no one else was looking, I pulled the most valuable piece of paper out, and unfolded it for him, hunching over it protectively.

"I think you'll find that, this, is the actual value".

He gave an impressed snort, and said, "This is just the number 4, followed by a decimal place and hundreds of zeros."

I had waited for him to fall into this trap, and trying not to be too smug, pointed at 2 of the "zeros" on the sheet of paper.

"What, why are you pointing at those?"

"Because they are actually sixes."

"That doesn't make sense."

"I know, I was surprised at first too."

"Are you sure just weren't just writing zero so fast that you accidentally made some zeros that looked like a six?"

I took the sheet away, saying that he obviously wasn't willing to discuss this at a mathematical level. I'll just have to wait for the professor to come around.

He sighed in defeat.

"Okay, let me construct a mathematical argument for you".

He then drew a square and then a line dividing it.

"Okay, all these sides are of length one."

I commented that they looked more like two inches to me, at which point he closed his eyes for a long time, before agreeing to label them as 2 inches.

"So, the perimeter of the square is 8 inches, the diameter of the square is two inch."

For some reason when he said the word "diameter" he made two bunnies in the air with his hands.

"Eight divided by two is..."

I gave him time to come up with the answer since he seemed stuck, and then began reciting My Awesome Ratio from memory, which is pretty easy if you remember where the two sixes are.

This made him scream.

"It's four. One, two, three, four! I don't know how to be more clear!"

He seemed sure enough to be angry about it, which gave me pause.

"Alright, maybe you're right, but what if the sides of the squares are 'pi' inches? What's the ratio then?"

"Still four."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"What about in base pi? Is it still four?"

This gave him pause before answering.

"I guess that'd be 1.3... something, probably repeating."

"Like pi?"

"Yes."

"Does that have a name yet?"

At this point his eyes lit up, as if he finally recognized my brilliance.

"No, it doesn't. But by the power vested in me as a community college math TA, I official dub it 'Frank's Awesome Ratio'".

"Can we call it Frank's Second Awesome Ratio, so that people don't confuse it with four?"

This made him scream again.

1 comment:

I confess that this story is totally copying the style and voice of the book "The Time Machine Did It" (which I recommend highly).

http://tinyurl.com/5o2pwv
by: Kyle (contact) - 04 Dec '08 - 10:03



 




Meta Information:

Title: Irrational
Date posted: 04 Dec '08 - 09:58
Filed under: General
Word Count: 778 words
Good Karma: 99 (vote)
Bad Karma: 96 (vote)
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