Thank you Phil

So dating back to 1887, a little rodent has (not very accurately) forecast the weather for the remainder of winter.

As I was looking up statistics for how many times he saw his shadow vs. didn’t (before today) I was thrilled to see 99 shadows, 16 no shadows.  Ahh, if only he’ll see his shadow.  Two square numbers.  Not possible again until 2021.  But wait, there’s more!  I was thinking about it, and 1887 was 124 ghd’s ago (before today).  99+16 = 115.  What about the other 9?  No record.  I didn’t even know that was an option.  But wait, there’s more.  Holy crap!  9 is also a square.  If only you’d see your shadow, Phil, there would be a trifecta of squares.  But wait, there’s more.  2012 is the 125th one.  That’s 5 x 5 x 5.  Holy crap!  If only you’d see your shadow, Phil.  The three possibilities (shadow, no shadow, no record) would all be square numbers, and the total number of years would be a cubic number.

Needless to say, I put a halt on the synthetic division during first period.  This was too important an occasion to miss!  I was THRILLED when he saw his shadow.  Sure, 6 more weeks of 60-degree winter would be great, but seriously?  The sum of 3 squares is a cube?

Thank you Phil, for seeing your shadow, even if it was a cloudy day.

Punxsatawney Phil, by the way, is the groundhog (or “are the groundhogs”- I don’t know if groundhogs live to be over 100 years old) who predicts the weather.


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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2 Responses to Thank you Phil

  1. ctkreider says:

    I heard today that Phil’s accuracy is at 39%. And the groundhog in the Poconos, Sammy, did *not* see his shadow. What does it all mean?!?!?

  2. Mr. T says:

    According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter-like weather will soon end. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow to sleep some more, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks. Groundhog Day has its origins in an ancient celebration of a point mid-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition has it that fair weather implied a stormy and cold second half of winter.

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