## Posts tagged ‘conversion’

### Just Sayin’

Heidi Lang is one of the amazing teachers at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. When she’s not challenging my sons with interesting puzzles and problems, she’s entertaining them with jokes that make them think. On her classroom door is a sign titled *Just Sayin’*, under which hangs a variety of puns. Here’s one of them:

Last night, I was wondering why I couldn’t see the sun. Then it dawned on me.

That reminds me of one of my favorite jokes:

I wondered why the baseball kept getting larger. Then it hit me.

Occasionally, one of her puns has a mathematical twist:

Did you know they won’t be making yardsticks any longer?

And this is one of her mathematical puns, though I’ve modified it a bit:

When he picked up a 20‑pound rock and threw it 5,280 feet, well, that was a real milestone.

I so enjoy reading Ms. Lang’s *Just Sayin’* puns that I decided to create some of my own. I suspect I’ll be able to hear you groan…

- He put 3 feet of bouillon in the stockyard.
- When the NFL coach went to the bank, he got his quarterback.
- She put 16 ounces of poodle in the dog pound.
- The accountant thought the pennies were guilty. But how many mills are innocent?
- His wife felt bad when she hit him in the ass with 2⅓ gallons of water, so she gave him a peck on the cheek.
- Does she know that there are 12 eggs in a carton? Sadly, she dozen.
- When his daughter missed the first 1/180 of the circle, he gave her the third degree.
- She caught a fish that weighed 4 ounces and measured 475 nm on the visible spectrum. It was a blue gill.
- When Rod goes to the lake, he uses a stick that is 16.5 feet long. He calls it his fishing rod.
- What is a New York minute times a New York minute? Times Square.
- I wanted to dance after drinking 31 gallons of Budweiser, so I asked the band to play the beer barrel polka.
- The algebra teacher was surprised by the mass when she tried to weigh the ball:
*b*ounces.

And because this post would feel incomplete without it, here’s probably the most famous joke of this ilk:

- In London, a pound of hamburger weighs about a pound.

### The Math Humor of *Archer*

*Archer* is an animated comedy series about a spy agency. I shamelessly admit that I am a devoted fan.

The show’s protagonist, Sterling Archer, is a pompous, egocentric misogynist created in the image of James Bond. But don’t expect high-level humor or martinis that are shaken, not stirred. Instead, Archer offers off-color wit and binge drinking, with Sterling delivering such lines as,

Lying is like 95% of what I do.

and

Wait, does Vermont have liquor stores? It has to. It sucks there.

Who can blame you if you find it surprising that I would appreciate such low-brow humor? Especially given the prurient nature of material that I regularly offer on this blog.

Did you hear about the constipated mathematician?

He worked it out with a pencil.What kind of pencil?

A #2 pencil, of course.

But the show also occasionally includes a math reference, like this one.

Who am I, Alan Turing? He was also in

X-Men, remember?

Don’t blame me. I never said that the math references were used correctly.

In Season 2, Episode 5 (“The Double Deuce”), it appears that Archer has difficulty with measurement conversions…

Sterling Archer: “So, how much are we talking here?”

Woodhouse: “Oh, nearly 1,200 pounds.”

Sterling Archer: “What?! Nobody is getting killed over… however much that is in real money.”

But then in Season 4, Episode 12 (“Sea Tunt, Part 1”), he demonstrates an uncanny ability to convert between measurements…

Malory Archer (pointing to a map): The bomb is on the ocean floor here at a depth of 8,000 feet.

Sterling Archer: Or 1,333 fathoms.

Lana Kane: How do you know that?

Sterling Archer: How do you not?

A little later, Sterling remarks that the distance is 0.43 leagues below the surface.

So the show isn’t completely devoid of intellectual content. Just mostly.

Why did the spy hide inside a math book.

Because it was under cover.

I know. Painful. This one any better?

A young woman was having trouble finding a post-doc after getting her doctorate in math, so she applied for a job as a spy. At the interview, she was given a sealed envelope with confidential information. She was told that she shouldn’t open the envelope under any circumstances, and she should deliver it to the fourth floor immediately. She left the interview room and, unable to control herself, she opened the envelope. Inside, a message read, “Well done! You’re the kind of person we’re looking for. Report to the seventh floor.”

### Conversion Perversion

“Be there in a jiffy.”

If someone says that to you, then you know that that person should arrive soon. But did you know that *jiffy* is a technical term? Similarly, the expression “two shakes of a lamb’s tail” used to indicate a short period of time, but the unit of time known as a *shake* now has a specific designation.

- 1 sec = 100 jiffies = 100,000,000 shakes

I’m big into conversions. I often tell folks, if you need to convert between televangelists and expatriate poets, the following picture may be helpful to you:

That is, 1 Ezra Pound ≈ 454 Billy Grahams.

The following are some other fun conversions.

- π sec ≈ 1 nanocentury

It’s interesting that this is so accurate. It is within 0.5%.

- 1 furlong per fortnight (FPF) ≈ 1 cm/min

This one is even better. The error is less than 0.000025%.

- 1 m/s = 1 Hz/dpt (Hertz/dioptre)

This is what can happen when common units are replaced with uncommon units. *Hertz per dioptre* is an inside joke among physicists and yet another reason not to hang out with them. (*Dioptre* is a unit of measure for the optical power of a lens.)

- 1 square = 100 square feet

The term *square* is used in the construction industry, typically to measure a roof. For example, if a roof has an area of 1,000 square feet, then the contractor would order 10 squares of shingles. But you wouldn’t want to use this unit in regular conversation, because it leads to awkward phrases like a “one-square square,” which would be a square that measures 10 feet on a side.

- 1 gal ≈ 3 + π/4 L

This is one of my favorite conversions. It’s accurate to 0.00000003%.

- 1 Hubble-barn ≈ 13.1 L

A *Hubble length* is the length of the observable universe (a very, very big length), and a *barn* is 100 square femtometers (a very, very small area), so it’s neat that their product gives a very tangible volumetric result.

- 1 stone = 14 pounds

When asked for my weight, I usually respond, “About 13 stones.” Such a reply leaves room for interpretation, and it could be assumed that I weigh as little as 175 pounds or as much as 189 pounds. And I’m fine with that. What kind of rude bugger asks your weight, anyway?

On a related note, the following formula can be used to approximate the U.S. population for a given year. Let *x* = the last two digits of the year, and let *y* = the projected U.S. population for that year (in millions). Then,

*y*= π*x*+ 276

This result is based on projections from the Pew Research Center. This formula provides an accurate estimate (within 1%) of the actual population for every year since 2000, and it should give a reasonable projection for the next several decades, assuming there are no major catastrophes.

### Is Car Talk Invading My Turf?

On Saturday, my friend Mark Stevens emailed me the following joke:

What is the ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter?

Eskimo pi.

Until now, this joke never appeared on the MJ4MF blog, though a similar joke appeared in a post on Pi Day 2010. This joke does, however, appear in the list of 57 conversions in the “Conversion Chart” on pages 65‑67 of *Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks*.

The subject line of Mark’s email was “Car Talk Mathy Joke.” I initially thought Click and Clack were pilfering my material, but a quick search for “conversions car talk” revealed that they had posted a list of 37 conversions on the Car Talk web site in May 2000. Not that I could have done anything, anyway. The list that appears in *MJ4MF* is not original. Conversions like this have been floating around the Internet for at least a decade.

However, at least one of the conversions in *MJ4MF* was a Vennebush original:

16 ounces of Alpo = 1 dog pound

In looking through the Car Talk list, I noticed one conversion in their list that was absent from mine:

The first step of a one-mile journey = 1 Milwaukee

(You have to put a certain drawl on the right side so it reads as “one mile walky.”)

My favorite joke of this ilk, which did not appear on the Car Talk list…

2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds

I rather enjoy these corny jokes. In fact, I used the following joke last month at the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (VCTM) conference:

Some people are frustrated by metric conversions, but not me. For instance, if you want to know how many televangelists are equal to one expatriate poet, the conversion is rather simple…