College Math Teaching

July 15, 2014

A quickie from Mathematics Magazine

Filed under: basic algebra, editorial, elementary mathematics, recreational mathematics — Tags: — collegemathteaching @ 9:35 pm

It has been a long time since I’ve posted; I’ve spent time doing various things, including revising a paper that a journal editor wanted revised.

I’ll speak more about that later.

I got the latest Mathematics Magazine in the mail (volume 87, No. 3, June 2014), and the article “Surprises” by Felix Lazebnik is chock full of delightful tidbits, many of which I didn’t know.

Here is a fun one that you can share with your non-mathematically inclined friends (other tidbits there require some mathematics background).

(Surprise 7): A watermelon is 99 percent water (by weight). One ton of watermelons was shipped and during shipment some water evaporated. The watermelons that arrived were made up of 98 percent water (by weight). What was the weight of the shipment when it arrived?

The answer is in the article, but I suggest you give it a go. It will take, at most, a minute or two (if that). This shows the power of basic algebra to discipline our thinking and how our intuition can deceive us.

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