Stupid Math Tricks

One of the things Chad didn’t mention about me in his introduction is that in addition to being a physics major as an undergraduate, I also majored in mathematics. My research interests these days tend towards the exciting confluence of mathematics and high energy physics. So, in honor of that (but really completely unrelated), I give you:

60499999499 / 490050000000

If you like, consider it an easy puzzle to understand the significance of this number.


  1. #1 Brian Thompson
    August 17, 2007

    I don’t want to spoil it for anybody, but its one of my favorite numbers. Incidentally, I’m fond of 1/89 also.

  2. #2 PhilipJ
    August 17, 2007

    Hooray non-negatives! I don’t get the 1/89 at all, however.

  3. #3 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 17, 2007

    Ah, but you truncated too early.

    Thus you give us only an approximation to the far more interesting Champernowne’s constant 0.1234567891011… (Sloane’s A033307) is the number obtained by concatenating the positive integers and interpreting them as decimal digits to the right of a decimal point. It is normal in base 10 (Champernowne 1933, Bailey and Crandall 2003). Mahler (1961) showed it to also be transcendental.

  4. #4 Nathan
    August 17, 2007

    Vos Post, asympotically approaching bot-hood.

  5. #5 Cody
    August 17, 2007

    Gar, 1/81 is almost as impressive.

    Anyone else fond of 1/243 ?

  6. #6 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 17, 2007

    Nathan: but I still FEEL human. Of course, the best simulations always think they are. See Philip K. Dick, “The matrix”, “Simulacron-3″ and its adaptation as “The Thirteenth Floor” and the argument over whether or not we are all simulations, currently on the Neurophilosphy scienceblog.

    Also, directly related to the previous mathematical points:

    Copeland-Erdos Constant

    The decimal 0.23571113171923… (Sloane’s A033308) obtained by concatenating the primes: 2, 23, 235, 2357, 235711, … (Sloane’s A019518; one of the Smarandache sequences). Copeland and Erdos (1946) showed that it is a normal number in base 10.

    Further into the depths:

    I started as a Physics major too, at Caltech in 1968, before eventually morphing into a double B.S. in Math and English, and then a M.S. in Computer Science and then… What a moment. This blog is guest-hosted, so I shall be as polite here as to Chad. I just want to show solidarity with my fellow double- and triple-majors.

  7. #7 I Wunuppayou
    August 17, 2007

    Oh yeah? Well I was a quintuple major! Physics, Math, Chem, Biology and Modern Dance! I won’t even mention my 12 minors, three of which went on to have majors of their own…

    Boo! Bring back Chad!

  8. #8 Jamie Bowden
    August 17, 2007

    Nathan: Rename him Timmy since he even reacts almost the same way to the accusation.

    Is Dr. Sadun hiding in a corner around here somewhere?

  9. #9 Aaron Bergman
    August 17, 2007

    Wandering around the internet one day, I ran across this.

  10. #10 Novak
    August 17, 2007

    This is, um, not hard given that a calculator is always in easy reach of any platform I can use to make a web post….

  11. #11 Aaron Bergman
    August 17, 2007

    Wasn’t meant to be hard; just a bit of math fun. There’s actually some interesting mathematics behind it, ie, the existence of inordinately large numbers in the continued fraction expansion of the number. A type of transcendental numbers called Liouville numbers exhibit similar behavior, but I don’t know if there’s a connection. If anyone knows of an explanation for the existence of these large terms, I’d love to hear it.

The site is currently under maintenance. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.