September 5, 2006

Caltech bistromathics

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at September 5, 2006 11:32 AM

I'm totally working on my talk for this afternoon, and not even connected to the internet, but take note of this article from The Onion (via Cheryl): Caltech Physicists Successfully Split The Bill

PASADENA, CA—Sequestered in a private booth at a Pasadena-area Cheesecake Factory for nearly 25 minutes, a party of eight California Institute Of Technology physicists emerged exhausted but visibly excited Friday evening after successfully splitting the bill.

"This is an important day for us, not only because it marks Professor [Wayne] Newbury's birthday, but because we have accomplished a feat thought unimaginable ever since [late computational physicist Philip] Eisenreich found that it was impossible to calculate how a group of paired bodies, set in motion by the presence of a solid-state check, could come to rest at a non-variable, evenly distributed mathematical constant," said lead party organizer and theoretical physicist Dr. Cynthia Dreyfuss.

Before the arrival of the check, several early bill-splitting theories were proposed, including a simple process of dividing it into eight identical fragments, the Random Contribution Model, and a theory posited by Newbury himself—who insisted that he was bound to treat everyone—which was widely rejected on the basis that it would undermine the whole objective of the evening.

In reality, this problem is traditionally assigned to the youngest non-math-major.

Tags: Caltech, Life
Comments

I'm amused, but this one is even better. (I'm also biased, but that's just the way it is.)

Once or twice, I've been assigned the problem because everybody else at the table was pure math.

Also, for some reason, the youngest-non-math major deal is only a Caltech thing. Maybe it's not such a surprise, but I used to think this was a bit more universal (and then I was subjected to blank stares a few times before finally figuring it out).

Posted by: Mason | September 5, 2006 11:44 AM

Assign the problem to the human calculator, if you have one. Stimpy was good for this, back in the day...

This youngest non-math-major thing must be a tradition that arose since I graduated (or maybe a Lloyd thing instead of a Caltech thing?). It seems reasonable, but this is the first I'd heard of it.

Posted by: Justin | September 5, 2006 12:46 PM

It might be a Lloyd thing, although I suspect you just missed out. (Any of the non-Lloydies out there want to weigh in on that?) It definitely did not start after you graduated, as it was going very strong when I arrived as a freshman.

Posted by: Mason | September 5, 2006 11:14 PM

It's not just a Lloyd thing. My freshman year, I was a math major partly in self-defense, since I was younger by a year (or more) than my classmates. (Which didn't reliably chnage until I was a junior, come to think.) Anyway, I had the rule called on me by members of most of the hovses.

Posted by: Wren | September 6, 2006 7:06 AM
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