Happy Binary Day! 63 ?

So much going on tomorrow!  But as much as the 111111 of tomorrow excites me as a math person, I did my “last binary day” spiel today – there’s a much more important celebration tomorrow: Veterans’ Day.  So, thank you ahead of time to all of you who served — wartime, peacetime, anytime.

I mainly talked about the fact that it’s the last time a date will have all 1’s and 0’s in it (mm/dd/yy format, anyway) until 01/01/00 — 88+ years!  Which in itself is kind of cool, right?  88 is divisible by 11?  We did some searching.  111111 binary = 63 decimal.  00111111 ASCII is ‘?’…This unfortunately led to yet another off-topic conversation about what ASCII is, etc, but also a useful circuitous route to talk about a little bit of combinatrics — if there are 8 digits that can either be 0 or 1, how many combinations are there?  Sooooooo why do computers’ memories/speeds/pretty much anything to do with them have 256 (or multiples thereof) so often?  You got it.  I also made up a story about Lord of the Rings — which may be true, I have never heard of it though (so I assumed my students wouldn’t know, and would just think I knew a lot of random trivia so…victory for me, but sorry Mr. Tolkien if I am wrong.  No offense – it was in the name of education).  I said ELEVEN and ELVEN are only one letter different.  Which letter?  e.  So even (which is only an ‘L’ different then ELVEN) though he was a hobbit, it was due to Tolkien’s love of Leonard Euler that Bilbo had his 111 birthday, and it was called his “eleventy-first.”  It was a stretch, I know, I’m having a hard time with it myself, but they bought it.  Or didn’t, but they did ask “what’s e?”  Yay for mention logarithms when they aren’t even comfortable with lines yet.  What AM I doing?  Then I told them…”What’s the last digit of pi?”  People looked at me like I was odd.  Which I am.  But I said “e”.  I wrote it on the board … “pi-e”  Funny?  Probably not.  So why did they laugh!?  I’m winning them over, one by one.

I also said that Carl Sagan (I could be wrong, but I think I’m right…correct me if not) in Contact wrote about an alien message, in binary, hidden in the infinity of digits in pi.  So, as our computers got powerful enough to figure out pi to the trillions of digits that it takes to GET to such a pattern of 0’s and 1’s (nothing yet…)  the aliens will finally want to talk to us because we’re not so technologically inferior.  Disinterested?  Maybe.  But students DID ask me who Carl Sagan was.  Score one for math teacher getting student interested in reading.

BTW – if the aliens did send a message in pi, and it was in binary, and they’d somehow know ASCII?  And their message was a question mark?  The string 00111111 occurs at position 42,408,101 counting from the first digit after the decimal point. 91672506096553779962 00111111 19714125250218900090


I like this page.  And if I want to get to my birthday in pi?  08241982 is a string of digits appearing 181,815,097 digits after the decimal point.  It’s amazing how much time I can spend on this site…I’m going to try to find odd (or even) coincidences in the digits of pi.  Instead of doing a lot of other, more productive, things.  Oy…


About Mr. T

Well, I'm interested in math. Teaching it, learning it, describing it, living it. Creating it. Most importantly (to me) is helping others appreciate it as much as I do.
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